Forecasting Change: Cooling demand on the rise

More houses built with central air

ORLANDO, Fla. – Can you imagine life without air conditioning? I know, it sounds like misery, right? But as much as we are hooked on the air conditioning, it was not that long ago that not everyone had it. Not even in Florida.

This is a visual display of how the use of AC has grown in the last 50 years. In the South, the number of homes built with AC is now 100%. As recently as 1973, the percentage was below 70%. And even in parts of the country that do not have our heat, the number is also approaching 100%.

[TRENDING: DeSantis: We are not shutting down | 3,000 Spirit Airlines flights canceled or delayed | Turtle crashes through car windshield]

Homes built with central AC

When trying to analyze how much cooling power is needed to cool our homes, there is a measure known as “cooling degree days.” The folks at Climate Central describe it this way: Cooling degree days (CDDs) measure the difference between the daily average outdoor temperature and 65°F, an engineering standard that is considered the ideal indoor temperature.

For example, a day with an average temperature of 90°F has 25 CDDs (90°- 65°). Since CDDs describe how much cooling is needed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, we can use them to determine changing energy demand to cool homes and buildings in a given location across time.

In Orlando, the cooling degree days have really soared in the last few years.

Increased cooling demand

Why is this important? If we were in a “green environment” and most of our energy to cool us did not come from fossil fuels, it would not be important. But that is not where we are. And if we keep on using those fossil fuels to cool our world, we just keep on making the atmosphere hotter. It becomes a race to the bottom.

In the future, we will need to make use of alternative fuels like wind and solar, to create our power. Buildings and structures will need to be designed better to become more insulated and have better windows to keep the sun and heat outside.

Because let us be honest, we love our lifestyle here in Florida and we love our air conditioning.

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.