A report published in MIT Technology Review last week detailed how lagging air conditioning technology could threaten power grids and accelerate climate change based on their soaring use. Unlike solar panel, battery and electric vehicles which have seen massive leaps in technological advancement over the past decades, air conditioning technology has remained relatively the same. This lack of advancement has placed communities into a very precarious position. As climate change accelerates and communities deal with increasing average temperatures during summer months, air conditioning use has increased dramatically. This dramatic increase in air conditioning use not only contributes further to the climate issues which require air conditioning, but also place a strain on the electrical grid of municipalities as they try to keep up with increased demand.

In California last week excessive heat and high rates of air conditioning usage forced the operates of the electric grid to send hundreds of thousands of people to the dark with blackouts that were wide spread. In the MIT Technology report, it is indicated that even were air conditioning technology to take a large leap in efficiency, the increased usage would still results in a net increase utilization of electricity for climate control. Moving forward, this creates a difficult scenario for utility planners as they now need to account for power capacities which may only be required for a few hours during a few days per year. Many existing municipalities do not have the infrastructure that will be able to function properly should this increase in power demand be sustained.

Based on the growth of air conditioner installation, it is very likely that electrical power requirements continue to increase. Installations within the United States are expected to continue to increase, as well as usage, however; the increase is not as exponential as what is expected to occur in India or China over the next 30 years. The graph below shows what those increases could look like throughout different parts of the world.

Increased AC Usage By 2050

The main function of air conditioning services has stayed the over the years without much advancement in technology. However, there have been slight increases on efficiency which all for lower costs on your electrical bill. These types of systems can help to save money over the long run by slightly reducing your electrical costs each month. Looking for ac companies who can complete air conditioning installation can help to guide you towards a system that will help you to save your money for a system that can properly cool your home. While these efficiency increases may be less than what is needed to stem the increase in power usage, it can help you to save money personally in the long run.

Specifically in Philadelphia, we have seen the past few summers consistently reaching new record highs for average temperatures, making what is laid out in the report that much more real for Philadelphia residents. It will be interesting to see if the problems which are currently isolated to California's power grid manifest themselves in our neighborhood. The Philadelphia area sees much less brutal heat than California making it less likely we see blackout issues anytime soon.