Benjamin Franklin, a pretty smart guy on a variety of subjects, didn’t live in an air conditioned era when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
While not speaking directly about life in Texas during the summer, what the astute Mr. Franklin meant is that a little precaution before a crisis is preferable to a lot of fixing up afterward.
Always one to give good advice, Franklin’s point is that an ounce of prevention is a good idea when faced with the inevitable: When one lives in Arlington, TX the home’s air conditioner is going to run around the clock, fighting to keep the inside reasonably cool when the temperature outside hovers at or about 100 degrees for at least three months.
The inevitable is:
- There’s going to be more strain and wear and tear on the air conditioning equipment that cools your Arlington, TX home.
- With that increased strain comes additional demand for energy, meaning your monthly energy bills are going to be more expensive. Texans already spend between 40 to 50 percent of their household energy bills on heating and cooling costs, especially in the summer.
- To help with the wear and tear on equipment and rising costs, it’s more important than ever for Arlington homeowners to be vigilant about servicing and repairing their air conditioning equipment on a regular basis.
- By doing so, your home’s equipment will last longer, run more efficiently, and not cost you as much money to operate.
To support the idea of prevention, this post takes a brief look at what is happening heat-wise in Texas.
In subsequent posts we’ll examine the relationship between the Arlington heat, your home’s air conditioning equipment, and what can be done to make sure everything is running smoothly to avoid costly repairs and potential shut-down disaster.
Turning Up the Heat
Let’s establish this first. This post is not an argument for or against global warming. We’ll leave that up to climatologists to research and politicians, business leaders, and specialty interests groups to debate.
We’re just pointing out the obvious to anybody living in Arlington, TX: It seems like it is getting hotter. Is it hotter now than it was 100 years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. Statistics argue both sides of the equation.
All that really matters is that, over the past several years and looking ahead into the foreseeable future, it’s getting hotter and it’s expected to get even hotter in the years to come. All of this heat impacts your Arlington, TX air conditioning.
Just the Heat Facts
There are many Chicken Little the-Earth-is-melting studies out there to consider. One was conducted by John Nielsen-Gammon, the State of Texas’ own climatologist, who believes the Lone Star state will be hotter, with triple-digit temperature averages, in the coming decades.
“The unusually warm summers in parts of Texas in 2009 and 2010 were a taste of the future,” said Nielsen-Gammon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “They are likely to be the typical summers of mid-century, and the unusually hot summers will be that much hotter.”
The climatologist concluded — after combining model analyses from the National Center for Atmospheric Research with climate observations from the National Climatic Data Center — that the trend toward warmer temperatures actually began decades ago.
“The decade of the 1970s was the coldest period in recorded climate history for Texas,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “Since then, temperatures have been rising decade by decade, and the models project a similar warming trend for the foreseeable future.”
Studies elsewhere have shown that, as temperatures rise, a variety of problems emerge such as:
- water shortages
- more crop failures
- longer and more severe droughts
- more demand for energy
- rising energy costs
- more demand on air conditioning equipment, necessitating more frequent repairs
- greater difficulty in controlling air pollution.
While the it-is-getting-hotter, no-it-is-not debate rages on, some organizations are taking note regardless of what each side contends. One, the Risky Business Project, expects Texas to be one of the hardest hit states by the impacts of climate change.
The Risky Business Project is a non-partisan, independent initiative that highlights the risks faced by the U.S. economy dues to climate change.
Here is a summary of the report’s findings, although we are only concerned here about the impact on Arlington, TX and your home’s air conditioning.
- Texas is likely to have a significant increase in heat-related deaths due to climate change.
- Extreme heat will likely decrease the state’s labor productivity, especially among workers in high-risk outdoor industries such as farming, manufacturing, and construction.
- While extreme heat will make it more difficult for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) service and repair techs in Arlington and surrounding communities to do their jobs, the hotter springs, summers, and falls should be a boom to the industry as a whole as more and more equipment will need to be serviced, maintained, repaired, and/or replaced in the coming years. (Are you prepared?)
- Consumers in Arlington, the metroplex, and throughout Texas will face much higher electricity bills due to an increased demand for air conditioning. (See below.)
- Without changes in agricultural practices and technologies, staple crops like Texas corn and cotton likely will face significant declines in yields.
- Rising seas and storm surges along the Texas coast are likely to cause substantial damage to private property and critical infrastructure, especially in heavily populated costal cities such as Houston and Galveston.
A few often-cited facts from different studies.
- During the past 30 years people living in Arlington and the rest of Texas have experienced an average of 43 days a year with temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. But by 2020 — just four years from now — that number is likely to reach 80 days for a 20-year period from 2020 to 2039. That number is expected to spike up to 106 days per year by 2050.
- In a recent federal climate data study by the Associated Press, the news organization analyzed weather trends from the National Climatic Data Center and found that Texas is one of the fastest warming states in the continental U.S. The hottest months are currently sitting around 2.8 degrees hotter in 2014 than they were in 1984.
Higher Electricity Bills
Along with higher electricity bills, it is expected that homeowners in Arlington and throughout Texas will face increased air conditioning service, repair, and maintenance costs associated with keeping existing equipment up and running.
Additionally, Texas’ electrical system may also suffer from the impact of extreme heat. Power plants and transmission lines are known to become less efficient at very high temperatures, which will require more frequent service, maintenance, and repair.
This scenario likely will require construction of additional power generation capacity to meet higher peak demand, which in turn will lead to higher electricity rates to cover the cost of new construction and transmission.
Texas consistently ranks among the top 10 states with the highest likely increases in electricity demand. By 2020–2039, rising electricity demand related solely to climate change is likely to increase residential and commercial energy expenditures by 7.5 percent. Those increases will likely grow to up to 12.5 percent by 2040–2059, which translates to higher energy costs across the state.
The Good News
Despite the findings of scientists such as Nielsen-Gammon and the conclusions of the Risky Business Project, there is considerable hope for the future. There’s a wealth of evidence that suggests the most severe risks can be avoided through early investments in resilience and through public and private action that will reduce pollution that causes climate change.
Homeowners, too, are taking action by being more proactive when it comes to the air conditioning service, repair, or replacement and by making their homes much more energy efficient.
See, Franklin’s ounce of prevention is pretty good advice.