What is the connection between heat and electricity use?

From the eia article June heat wave in the Northwest United States resulted in more demand for electricity by Johnathan DeVilbiss and Mark Morey (7/21/2021):

heat wave in the Northwest United States in late June led to more regional demand for electricity. During periods of high temperatures, electricity demand increases as people turn up their air conditioners, dehumidifiers, fans, and other cooling equipment. Very high temperature events, like the one in June in the Northwest, tend to push electricity demand to very high levels.

Portland, Oregon: On Monday, June 28, the temperature at Portland International Airport reached an all-time record high of 115°F. At 5:00 p.m., the temperature was 114°F, and electricity demand for the Portland General Electric Balancing Authority for the hour ending at 5:00 p.m. was 4,471 megawatthours (MWh).

This provides as example of a feedback loop. At the planet warms we’ll use more electricity to keep us cool. If that electricity is generated by CO2 emitting sources we continue to warm the planet and then use even more electricity.

The article links to the hourly electric grid monitor where you can download data.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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