Your Air Conditioner Is Likely Making Your City Even Hotter


I try not to run my AC window unit too much, mostly because I’m always a little in dread of the summer spike in my electric bill and because the humming makes it difficult to watch TV. Really, I should be cutting down on my AC usage because it’s turning my city into a concrete hot box.

Cities are growing warmer because of climate change and people are naturally going to demand more indoor cooling. And while we’re trying to cool our homes and offices down, we’re in turn heating up the outdoors. Fast Company has highlighted a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, that points out that the excess heat generated by a city’s worth of AC units can raise temperatures by as much as 1 degree Celsius in the evening.

Considering that 87% of American households have an air conditioning and burn through 185 billion kilowatt hours annually, this kind of usage could pose a major problem if developing countries adopt the same practice. According to University of Michigan professor, Michael Sivak, eight countries could exceed the U.S.’s AC-related energy consumption: India by 14 times, China by 5 times, and Indonesia by 3.1 times. Sivak based his calculations on population, temperature forecasts and energy habit forecast, assuming higher incomes and rising temperatures will drive up AC demand. Over the last 20 years in China, homes with an AC unit have had a staggering jump from 1% of households to 63%.


Back to that part about your city being a full degree cooler because we’re all cranking the central air at 73 degrees 24/7. If you don’t think it makes a difference, think again.

Study co-author and Arizona State University mathematician Alex Mahalov brought his summer energy bill to a televised interview on local news channel KAET TV to demonstrate how this difference can translate to dollars spent on household energy use. “One to two degrees matters,” he told host Ted Simon. “In July, the average temperature was one degree higher, and my bill is $30 more. So now if we have 1 million households in the state of Arizona, multiplied by 30, $30 million per month. In waste heat.”

Ouch, that’s a nasty looking energy bill. Time to install a ceiling fan and start spending more time at the nearest pool.


Related Articles

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -