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Effects of Global Warming on Energy Use for Space Heating and Cooling in the United States

This study uses a three-step approach to estimate the impact of global warming on U.S. energy expenditures for space heating and cooling in residential and commercial buildings. First, average results from six different global circulation models are used to estimate the change in heating and cooling degree days in five U.S. climate zones associated with a 10 centigrade (C) global warming. Second, the change in degree days is mapped into a corresponding change in U.S. energy use for space conditioning, taking account of differences in population and baseline space conditioning intensity levels across regions, under the assumption that desired indoor temperature is unaffected by climate change. Finally, we estimate the associated change in energy expenditures. We find that a global warming of 1 degree C would reduce projected U.S. energy expenditures in 2010 by $5.5 billion (1991 dollars). This contrasts with earlier studies which have suggested modest global warming would increase U.S. expenditures on space conditioning energy.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Modeling – Energy Data, Modeling, and Policy Analysis; Energy and the Environment – Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases

JEL Codes:
E61 - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
Q54 - Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming

Keywords: Climate change, space heating and coaling, energy demand, US, energy prices

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol16-No2-4

Published in Volume16, Number 2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.