Why the 2013 heat wave was so hot

How to get a low-cost A/C unit and other help from LADWP to beat the next heat wave

If you live in California and it’s hotter than usual, the chances are you’ll have to adjust your air conditioner.

For all the years we’ve been living with the heat wave that blanketed southern California during the last heat wave of 2013, the situation has become all too familiar. We get up in the morning and the air conditioner has to stay on. We can only turn it on for five minutes before we have to set it back to the lowest level, which, like most household appliances, results in another six hours worth of sweating.

It would be easy to conclude that climate change is to blame. Unfortunately, though, that theory falls flat in the case of the heat wave. If climate change is causing the increased heat, then the heat wave should have been more intense and longer.

But it wasn’t hotter, and if it had been longer, we would have suffered more health problems caused by heat stress. The heat waves of 2013 were also much less frequent, which means we got hit more often but for less time.

So what’s going on here? What makes the heat waves of 2013 so much hotter than any recent heat wave?

The answer is energy: the energy we put into it.

Every time we turn on the air conditioner, we use energy to heat the air inside the house. That energy is usually provided by the sun during the day and electricity at night. But the sun and the power plants are being affected by climate change.

“Climate change drives the power supply mix,” says Mike Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University, via email. “The changes in supply and demand are leading to more and more extreme heat waves which now occur more often and last longer than previous years.”

That’s true in California, but it is not unique to California: the effects of climate change

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