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The Goldilocks Zone in Cooling Demand: What can we do better?
  • Rohini Kumar,
  • Debora Maia-Silva,
  • Roshanak Nateghi
Rohini Kumar
UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
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Debora Maia-Silva
Purdue University, Purdue University
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Roshanak Nateghi
Purdue University, Purdue University

Corresponding Author:rnateghi@purdue.edu

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The higher frequency and intensity of sustained heat events have increased demand for cooling energy across the globe. Current estimates of summer-time energy demand are primarily based on Cooling Degree Days (CDD), calculated using a predetermined comfort zone temperature. Through a comprehensive analysis of the observed trends in energy demand across the USA, we show that the current estimates of cooling demand fall significantly short (±25%) of capturing regional comfort zones. Moreover, given the increasingly compelling evidence that air temperature alone is not sufficient for characterizing human thermal comfort, we extend the widely-used CDD calculation to heat index, which accounts for both air temperature and humidity. Our results demonstrate a significant underestimation of the projected climate-sensitive portion of cooling demand (≈22%) when humidity is ignored. Our findings have significant implications for the security, sustainability, and resilience of the grid under climate change.
Jan 2022Published in Earth's Future volume 10 issue 1. 10.1029/2021EF002476