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Climate Change

Americans Cut Energy Use – By Moving West

As a nation, we have been moving away from regions of the US with extremes of hot or cold, and towards the West and Southwest for about the last fifty years.

A new study has found that as a result, our average (per person) use of energy for heating and cooling has diminished, resulting in a reduction in combined energy demand over the last fifty years.

Michael Sivak, a research professor at the Transportation Research Institute published the study in Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning.

His study by the University of Michigan shows that the per person demand for heating and cooling has consequently decreased since 1960 because we moved to milder climates that required less cooling, and especially, less heating.


Even when we needed more air conditioning in the warmer West and Southwest; even as much as 23% more, we still reduced overall energy use because we used 14% less heating. Averaged out, that made for a 6% drop. Then, once he factored in the energy used by power plants for the two uses; Sivac arrived at an average drop in energy use of about 11%.

He took into account:

  • Nominal energy demand, based only on “heating and cooling degree days”—units that relate to the amount of energy needed to heat and cool buildings [one heating (cooling) degree day occurs for each degree the average daily outdoor temperature is below (above) 65 degrees Fahrenheit];
  • Effective energy demand, based on heating and cooling degree days and incorporates the energy efficiencies of heating and cooling appliances; and
  • Practical energy demand, based on degree days and appliance efficiencies, as well as the efficiencies of power-generating plants.

His analysis focused on the fifty biggest metropolitan areas, which is where 54 percent of the nation lives.

What a low tech solution to energy problems! And it’s good to know; because soon we’ll all have to move again. Some parts of the country are going to become unbearably hot by the end of this century if this map of pretty horrific climate change in some regions of the US is right. And if we all hang in there running up the air conditioning, we’ll only make things worse. Let’s move, instead.

Image: Flikr user wide eyed archipelago

Source: EPA Online

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Written By

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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