How Energy Spent On Cooling Down Is Heating Our Planet Up Faster Each Summer

Every summer, air conditioning units begin to blow through kilowatt hours, putting a drain on the power grid. The drain on drinking water is no less worrisome in warmer months, as it takes 25 gallons of water to produce each of those kilowatt hours at the local power plant.

According to the EPA, “If the nation’s climate warms by 1.8°F, the demand for energy used for cooling is expected to increase by about 5-20%, while the demand for energy used for heating is expected to decrease by about 3-15%. Net expenditure in annual heating and cooling could increase by 10% ($26 billion in 1990 dollars) with a 4.5°F warming by the end of the century, and by 22% ($57 billion in 1990 dollars) with a warming of 9.0°F.”

Power plants cannot produce electricity as efficiently in high temperatures.
Power plants cannot produce electricity as efficiently in high temperatures.

As FiveThirtyEight reports, a staggering amount of our energy production is never used at all.

“Thirty-eight quadrillion British thermal units of energy — mostly from burning coal and natural gas — went into electricity production in 2015,” Maggie Koerth writes. “Almost 13 quadrillion Btu of useful energy came buzzing out across our power lines. The remaining 25 quadrillion Btu? It was just lost — mostly in the form of heat that rises and shimmers off the motors and machinery of the nation’s electric power plants.”

Take the Green Ribbon Pledge and stand up for Planet Earth!
Take the Green Ribbon Pledge and stand up for Planet Earth!

Of the total energy consumed in the United States, about 40% is used to generate electricity, and 21% of that goes to residential sectors, making electricity use an important part of each person’s environmental footprint, the EPA reports. Fossil fuels — coal, petroleum, and natural gas — are our main sources of energy, producing about 85% of fuel, electricity, and heat used by people across the globe. Fossil fuels are also the primary culprit behind climate change.

You can take small steps to help ensure a greener future.
You can take small steps to help ensure a greener future.

In short, we’re paying a lot to keep cool, but we’re making it harder to do so in the process in two ways:

  • The more fossil fuels that are burnt to decrease temperatures, the faster average temperatures will accelerate upward.
  • The higher temperatures go, the less efficient power plants are at generating more.
Be conscious of your energy use, especially in the summer.
Be conscious of your energy use, especially in the summer.

It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that could destroy our planet if more people don’t stand up and make a difference. Click below and join those fighting for a greener future!

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