Household energy use response to extreme heat with a biophysical model of temperature regulation: An Arizona case study
|Household energy use response to extreme heat with a biophysical model of temperature regulation: An Arizona case study
|Year of Publication
Rising temperatures associated with climate change are impacting household energy use. Many of today’s industrial-technological-urban humans thermoregulate in the face of varying temperatures using extra-metabolic energy use for heating and cooling our indoor microclimates. Previously, household energy use as a function of temperature change over seasons and time has been described using a three-part model of thermoregulation, the Extra-Metabolic Scholander-Irving model (EMSI), where energy use is lowest in the thermal neutral zone around room temperature and increases in colder and hotter temperatures. However, the EMSI model has only been evaluated for moderately warm cities to date, covering only two parts of the three-part model and lacking evaluation of data for extremely hot temperatures. We show that household energy use in Arizona, a U.S. state that includes hot semi-arid environments, varies across topography, and increases in response to the hottest summer months–exemplifying the third part of the EMSI model. Additionally, household energy use is lowest in the spring and fall and increases in response to colder temperatures in the winter. This relationship has hysteresis related to differences in household income; service regions with lower-income households delay the onset of extra-metabolic energy use for cooling. We use this model to gain predictive insights into energy use demand due to ongoing warming in the context of the desert city of Yuma, Arizona, where a relatively small increase in mean temperatures of ~1.5°C since the Industrial Revolution produced a 20-day increase (6%) in cooling days annually. Our study expands the EMSI model of thermal regulation to the previously missing hot part of the model, thereby gaining insights into the unique challenges of sustaining extra-metabolic thermoregulation in the face of global warming.