Existing state-level models relating climate parameters to residential electricity consumption indicate a nominal sensitivity of 2-4% for each degree Celsius increase in ambient temperatures. Long-term climate change will also impact electricity consumption through corresponding increases in the market saturation of air conditioning. In this paper we use air conditioning market saturation data for 39 US cities to develop a generalized functional relationship between market saturation and cooling degree days. The slope of this saturation curve is particularly high for cities that currently have low to moderate saturation. As a result, the total response of per capita electricity consumption to long-term warming may be much higher than previously thought. A detailed analysis of 12 cities in four states shows that for some cities changes in market saturation may be two to three times more important than the role of weather sensitivity of current loads. While actual behavioral response to climate change will be more complicated than that captured in our model of market saturation, this approach provides a new perspective on the sensitivity of space conditioning electricity consumption in the US to climate change.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Civil and Structural Engineering
- Building and Construction
- Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering