As areas in the southwestern U.S. continue to experience the hottest weather in decades, residents are blasting their air conditioning to cope with the excessive heat.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state’s largest electricity provider, said customers set a record peak usage as temperatures in Phoenix soared to nearly 48 degrees Celsius.
The excessive heat and use of energy is not just a problem in the State; Canadians should also prepare to pay more for their energy bills as heat waves continue to increase, according to Environment Canada’s senior climatologist David Phillips.
Last year Canada experienced the fourth hottest summer on record. He predicts this summer is going to be “above-normal” in temperature.
“Heat waves are more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. The future in Canada is going to be all about keeping cool. More energy dollars will be going into the summer than the winter,” Phillips said.
And it’s not just households that will feel the heat.
Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, said with the increased use of air conditioning, “there is no question” that it will put stress on the electricity system.
Canadian cities’ energy grids are already feeling the stress of a hotter climate, he said.
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“Toronto is stressed to accommodate electricity demands now. So with the addition of a growing population and elevated temperatures, it’s going to put even more stress on the system,” he said.
Canadians will also see higher utility bills as energy companies invest in structural enhancements to cope with the elevated demand, Feltmate said.
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Felmate believes Toronto Hydro customers will see higher bills in the next few years as the number of hot days increase.
According to the City of Toronto website, from 2000-2009, on average there were 20 days that reached above 30 C. It’s predicted that in 2040, there will be an average of 66 days that reach 30 C or above.
Although these are cautious predictions, they are still worrisome, according to Gideon Forman, a climate change analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation.
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A better solution, he feels, would be to use more solar and wind energy to provide electricity to the grid, making air conditioning less of a strain on our resources.
“Solar is not only good for the environment, it’s also cost effective,” he said.
Cities across the country are already starting to adapt to the rising demand for energy.
Edmonton recently launched a pilot project that allows homeowners to make energy efficiency easier to understand and more valuable. The “spot the difference” program allows homeowners to get an EnerGuide label and share their rating online and compare it other homes in Edmonton.
Vancouver also recently rolled out a new solar energy demonstration program, with a goal to get more people to switch from fossil fuels to solar-powered electricity.
“The goal is to start investing now to avoid high costs. The money you spend up front to tackle extreme weather is highly cost effective,” Feltmate said.
“The way to solve the problem is not to have the problem.”
With files Global News reporter Slav Kornik and the Canadian Press