Europeans face a heat wave conundrum

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. For the past week, much of Europe and the United States has become part of the kitchen as heatwaves made things hotter for millions worldwide. But while most Americans struck by extreme heat found relief, many Europeans found themselves in the metaphorical kitchen without air conditioning. Air conditioners are not suitable for this the good of the planetand it is important to take care of their impact on climate change in the long term, but Europeans may need to take care of themselves a little more in the short term.

When it’s uncomfortably hot in the US, people have many options besides going to the beach. According to the US Energy Information Administration, 88% of American homes have air conditioningtherefore, staying at home is often an option, and if you don’t have air conditioning in your home or want to go out, you can visit restaurants, shops, malls, libraries, museums, and many other buildings to beat the heat.

Cool things are not only a matter of comfort, but also a matter of productivity and public health.

But it’s a completely different story in Europe. This was recently reported by the Washington Post only 20% of European households have air conditioning, and it’s rare to find it in schools or offices. I learned this earlier this year while working as an English teacher in Poland. My apartment didn’t have air conditioning. Neither does my school. And some of the same places you would go to cool off in the US didn’t have it either.

On a day trip earlier this month, I was thrilled at the prospect of spending an afternoon in cool museums to see art, only to learn that none of the museums I visited had air conditioning. They only had dehumidifiers and a few fans to protect their 19th-century paintings and medieval wood carvings. A temperature gauge in a display case indicated it was 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), only slightly cooler than outside. Standing 82-degree air is not good conditions for enjoying art.

There are several reasons for the general lack of air conditioning in Europe. Electricity costs more in Europewith prices in Germany and Denmark more than double the US average Incomes are similar in the US and parts of Europe, but in other parts salaries are much lower than in the US, making air conditioning less affordable. Climate awareness makes many reluctant to adopt technologies that contribute to climate change. Other cultural differences may also play a role, Some attribute all sorts of diseases to the moving air.

But perhaps the most important reason is a difference in climate. Europe is located further north than much of the continental US, making the weather there generally cooler than here. For example, heat in Germany is rare enough that temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius cause it School and company closures called “Wärmefrei‘, and overnight temperatures above 68 F are mentioned “Tropical Night” or “Tropical Night”.

With average cooler temperatures, air conditioning is less necessary. It makes little sense for most buildings to have air conditioning if it is not used much. The average July high in London is 75Fwhich is 10 degrees cooler than that average July high in New York.

But as temperatures rise around the world due to climate change, that’s starting to change. With the current heat wave, London is almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average and it and most of Europe are unprepared for this heat intensity. Temperatures this high are only expected in the UK once every few centuriesbut with unabated carbon emissions, the country could experience these temperatures Every few years. And this problem is exacerbated by the lack of air conditioning.

In the USA, an average of 702 people die each year from high temperaturesand between 1900 and 2016, The deadliest heatwave in the US claimed 1,260 lives people in 1980. The current heat wave has killed more than 2,000 people alone in Spain and Portugal and halted some routine hospital operations in the UK in 2003, 70,000 Europeans died of heat-related causes. A study by the American Economic Association found schools are getting hotter correlate with lower test scores. And extreme heat often has one greater impact on the most vulnerable in our society.

Cool things are not only a matter of comfort, but also a matter of productivity and public health.

The world needs its infrastructure to deal with higher temperatures, and air conditioning is part of that infrastructure. It’s not the only way to deal with the heat, and it’s not always the best way, but it’s more practical to adapt existing buildings with air conditioning to a changing climate than it is to demolish and rebuild entire neighborhoods with greener designs.

While Europe can adapt to a warming climate by getting better at keeping it cool, we in the US could benefit by playing by the European rules of the game, using a little less air conditioning and working harder to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce. Efficiency gains and regulatory standards can reduce the impact of air conditioning on the environment while lowering the temperature. The US Department of Energy notes that a new central air conditioning system can achieve energy cost savings of 20% to 40% compared to a unit that is only 10 years oldand new efficiency standards for air conditioning will come into force in 2023.

And while a gust of cold air can be refreshing, European visitors (and some Americans) often come notice that we keep our buildings a little cooler than they need to be. Raising the thermostat a few degrees in summer protects the environment and your wallet. Europeans face a heat wave conundrum

Fry Electronics Team

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