Record-breaking summer temperatures in the southern United States have led to a significant increase in electricity consumption by households, resulting in soaring energy bills. Government data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals that the average American household typically spends about $262 per year on air conditioning. However, in the hot and humid southeast region, these costs have risen as high as $525.
According to a report by the US National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), home energy costs this summer are expected to increase by nearly 12% compared to last year, with an average of $578 per household. The southwest central region is projected to have the highest average energy costs at $706, while the Pacific Coast will have the lowest at $499.
Data shows that nearly 90% of US households use air conditioning, with two-thirds relying on central AC or a central heat pump as their main AC equipment. In 2020, the Midwest Census Region and South Census Region had the highest percentages of households using AC, at 92% and 93%, respectively.
NEADA Executive Director Mark Wolfe predicts that record-breaking cooling costs will be seen this summer. He emphasizes that these costs are not due to price increases but rather the result of increased demand to combat high temperatures. The NEADA advocates for programs that assist low-income families in paying their utilities.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service have reported that July 2023 was the hottest month on record. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has issued a warning that climate change has reached a “terrifying” level, noting that the era of global warming is now turning into the era of “global boiling.” The World Health Organization has also issued a caution about the expected increase in extreme weather events in 2023, including droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
Additionally, the United States has experienced the deadliest wildfires in over a century. Fatalities on the Hawaiian Island of Maui have reached 93, and approximately 2,200 buildings in West Maui have been destroyed, with damages estimated to approach $6 billion, according to Governor Josh Green.
These extreme weather conditions and their subsequent impact on energy consumption and costs highlight the urgent need for action to address climate change and its consequences. As global temperatures continue to rise, it is essential to invest in sustainable and renewable energy sources to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure a secure and affordable energy future for all.