Home to over 56 million people, the Southwest is the hottest and driest region anywhere in the US. The impact of climate change is expected to have severe effects on the Arizona SE Valley and the people who live here. Extreme heat and rises in sea level are both predicted within this century. Indeed, many people have already witnessed the impacts of climate change.
These changes, particularly in temperature are going to stress the HVAC systems in your home. It is therefore imperative that your systems are up to date, with the correct repairs. Before we explore the impact that climate change will have on your HVAC and air conditioning equipment, let’s look at where our region is today and what to expect in the future due to climate change.
The Southwest Today
Within the last 30 years, a person living in the Southwest has, on average, experienced 40 days throughout the year where temperatures surpassed 95 degrees. Arizona and Nevada are even hotter with 60-80 days a year.
The last decade was hottest since records began and temperatures were consistently 2 degrees higher than the average of past decades. As well as this, there were more heat waves and less cold air outbreaks. This shows that the impact of climate change is already being felt throughout Arizona, Nevada and California.
While it might be assumed that the temperature is the only issue, this is not the case. Indeed, research has shown that while both the frequency and intensity of heat waves have been changing since 1980, the character of the climate here is also evolving. Higher levels of humidity mean that the temperatures are higher through the night instead of the day.
While we are already starting to see the impact of climate change throughout Phoenix the expected changes as this century continues are far more extreme. For instance, there is likely to be as many as 36 more days where temperatures will exceed 109 degrees. By the end of the century, this number is expected to more than double.
If global emissions continue at their current rate average temperatures are predicted to increase by nearly two degrees by 2050. By the end of the century, there is expected to be a nearly 7-degree increase across the US. Even if global emissions are reduced, we can still expect a staggering 2-3 degree increase throughout this century. Furthermore, winter cold air outbreaks will decrease while summer heatwaves will become longer.
This could be dangerous for those living throughout the South West especially Nevada, lower Utah and the drier areas in California. Indeed, heat stress causes the most deaths throughout the US with the highest rates in Arizona, compared to other natural hazards. It’s easy to believe that these issues are far into the future. However, in 2014, Arizona experienced a record warm that was 5 degrees higher than typical temperatures for March and January. So, how will this impact your HVAC system and how can you prepare?
As well as impacting your energy bill, higher temperatures and greater levels of humidity can play havoc with your HVAC system. In hot and humid weather conditions, your AC system will need more power to keep your home at the right temperature. This is always going to put stress on the standard components that make up the system.
In contrast, climate change will also cause humidity levels to drop through the winter months. As such, your Heating system will once again require more power to keep your home cosy and thus more pressure.
Many devices will be able to deal with higher levels of humidity. However, they are often not built to withstand the extreme temperatures levels and severe humidity expected as climate change continues to reshape the environment in the Southwest. You might spot the signs of this. AC units that are struggling with levels of humidity will leave your home feeling sweaty with a scent of must in the air. You will also spot condensation on your windows.
It is possible that a dehumidifier installed directly upon AC units could help deal with this issue. As well as this it could solve the air conditioning issues you’ll experience through winter when the air is drier.
The Impact Outside Your Home
As well as impacting the feeling inside your home, climate change will likely cause issues to components of your HVAC system that remain outside your property. Humid conditions bring air that is filled with dust and debris. This can clog up your HVAC so it’s important that these are checked regularly. They may need to be cleaned and in other cases parts may need to be replaced. If you’re not sure how to properly maintain your system, it’s always best to hire an HVAC contractor to complete the work for you.
Did you know that the climate of your local area impacts the HVAC rating you need for your home? Every HVAC unit sold has to meet the requirements for the SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio. These ratings are impacted both by the type of heating you have and the environment of your area.
It’s important to be aware of these ratings to make sure you get the right system for your home when it’s time for a replacement. It is likely that as climate change continues the ratings on systems will change too. Older systems may not be as effective or even reliable with continued rising temperatures and HVAC technology is constantly evolving. As such, it’s always best to check the market and see whether your home could use a replacement rather than just a repair.
If you do notice that your HVAC system is not operating effectively through the hotter days of the year, contact an expert installer or AC repair service. They will be able to inspect your AC unit or tell you whether your system is in dire need of a repair or whether it’s time to invest in completely new AC unit for your home
We want to help you learn about about all things air conditioning and heating! Have any questions or want to see us write about something? Give us a call, chat, or email and we'll do our best to help you out.