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Contact: Michael Bishop
michael.bishop@iop.org
01-179-301-032
Institute of Physics

Cold cities less sustainable than warm cities, research suggests

Living in colder climates in the US is more energy demanding than living in warmer climates.

This is according to Dr Michael Sivak at the University of Michigan, who has published new research today, 28 March, in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters.

Dr Sivak has calculated that climate control in the coldest large metropolitan area in the country Minneapolis is about three-and-a-half times more energy demanding than in the warmest large metropolitan area Miami.

Dr Sivak calculated this difference in energy demand using three parameters: the number of heating or cooling degree days in each area; the efficiencies of heating and cooling appliances; and the efficiencies of power-generating plants.

Not included in the analysis were the energy used to extract fuels from the ground, the losses during energy transmission, and energy costs.

"It has been taken for a fact that living in the warm regions of the US is less sustainable than living in the cold regions, based partly on the perceived energy needs for climate control; however, the present findings suggest a re-examination of the relative sustainability of living in warm versus cold climates."

Heating degree days (HDDs) and cooling degree days (CDDs) are climatological measures that are designed to reflect the demand for energy needed to heat or cool a building. They are calculated by comparing the mean daily outdoor temperature with 18C.

A day with a mean temperature of 10C would have 8 HDDs and no CDDs, as the temperature is 8C below 18C. Analogously, a day with a mean temperature of 23C would have 5 CDDs and no HDDs.

Based on a previous study, Dr Sivak showed that Minneapolis has 4376 heating degree days a year compared to 2423 cooling degree days in Miami.

In the study, Dr Sivak used a single measure for the efficiency of heating and cooling appliances, as most are currently rated using different measures so they cannot be directly compared. His calculations showed that a typical air conditioner is about four times more energy efficient than a typical furnace.

"In simple terms, it takes less energy to cool a room down by one degree than it does to heat it up by one degree," said Dr Sivak.

Grouping together climatology, the efficiency of heating and cooling appliances, and the efficiency of power-generating plants, Dr Sivak showed that Minneapolis was substantially more energy demanding than Miami.

"In the US, the energy consumption for air conditioning is of general concern but the required energy to heat is often taken for granted. Focus should also be turned to the opposite end of the scale living in cold climates such as in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Rochester, Buffalo and Chicago is more energy demanding, and therefore less sustainable from this point of view, than living in warm climates such as in Miami, Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando and Las Vegas," Dr Sivak concluded.

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From Thursday 28 March, this paper can be downloaded from http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/014050/article

Notes to Editors

Contact

1. For further information, a full draft of the journal paper or to contact the researcher, contact IOP Press Officer, Michael Bishop:
Tel: 0117 930 1032
E-mail: Michael.Bishop@iop.org

IOP Publishing Journalist Area

2. The IOP Publishing Journalist Area (http://journalists.iop.org/journalistLogin) gives journalists access to embargoed press releases, advanced copies of papers, supplementary images and videos. In addition to this, a weekly news digest is uploaded into the Journalist Area every Friday, highlighting a selection of newsworthy papers set to be published in the following week.

Login details also give free access to IOPscience, IOP Publishing's journal platform.

To apply for a free subscription to this service, please email Michael Bishop, IOP Press Officer, michael.bishop@iop.org, with your name, organisation, address and a preferred username.

Air conditioning versus heating: climate control is more energy demanding in Minneapolis than in Miami

3. The published version of the paper "Air conditioning versus heating: climate control is more energy demanding in Minneapolis than in Miami" (Michael Sivak 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 014050) will be freely available online from Thursday 28 March at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/014050/article.

Environmental Research Letters

4. Environmental Research Letters covers all of environmental science, providing a coherent and integrated approach including research articles, perspectives and editorials.

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5. IOP Publishing provides publications through which leading-edge scientific research is distributed worldwide. IOP Publishing is central to the Institute of Physics (IOP), a not-for-profit society. Any financial surplus earned by IOP Publishing goes to support science through the activities of IOP. Beyond our traditional journals programme, we make high-value scientific information easily accessible through an ever-evolving portfolio of community websites, magazines, conference proceedings and a multitude of electronic services. Focused on making the most of new technologies, we're continually improving our electronic interfaces to make it easier for researchers to find exactly what they need, when they need it, in the format that suits them best. Go to http://ioppublishing.org/

The Institute of Physics

6. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society. We are a charitable organisation with a worldwide membership of around 50,000 members, working together to advance physics education, research and application. We engage with policymakers and the general public to develop awareness and understanding of the value of physics and, through IOP Publishing, we are world leaders in professional scientific communications.



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