Pennsylvania to Provide Free Air Conditioners to Certain Residents this Summer
As summer temperatures rise, thousands of Pennsylvania residents are set to receive free air conditioners, courtesy of federal utility assistance funding traditionally allocated for heating purposes. This marks the second consecutive summer that the state has elected to utilize funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to facilitate the installation, repair, or replacement of air conditioning units.
Steve Luxton, the CEO of the Energy Coordinating Agency, one of the two local weatherization agencies that manage LIHEAP funds in Philadelphia, explained the motivation behind the initiative. “We’re just trying to keep up with climate change,” he stated, emphasizing the importance of ensuring not just comfort, but safety within homes as global temperatures rise.
The effects of human-induced climate change are not just global but also local, with Philadelphia summers becoming increasingly hotter. The issue of heat is also a matter of geographical inequality; not all areas of the city experience the same degree of warmth.
Climate Central, a nonprofit organization, has conducted an analysis showing a noticeable increase in cooling-degree days over the past five decades in Philadelphia. Cooling degree days are a measure that reflects the duration of time the outside temperature exceeds 65 degrees, thus illustrating the need for air conditioning. The study reveals that since 1874, seven of the 10 years with the most cooling-degree days in Philadelphia have taken place since 2010. The city has experienced a significant 27% increase in cooling degree days in the last decade compared to the 1970s.
Interestingly, this trend isn’t unique to Philadelphia. Pittsburgh has also observed a steady uptick in the annual number of cooling degree days since 1970, albeit at a less dramatic pace. This data underscores the importance of measures such as Pennsylvania’s air conditioner program in mitigating the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.