Even during record heat, surprisingly few people go to L.A. cooling centers. Why? Because L.A.’s air is not just cold — it’s stale.
That’s why you may notice that when it’s 105 degrees outdoors in October, people are still inside going to air conditioners. The heat hasn’t reached the point of no return in L.A., so the public hasn’t built up the tolerance for uncomfortably warm air.
It’s because the heat is going on and off every day, says Jeffrey Hulen, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Center for International Policy.
“The heat doesn’t last very long,” he says. “At some point, the thermometers won’t be reporting that it’s above 90 degrees.”
That point is expected to arrive in October, when air-conditioning capacity is maxed out and the heat wave from July 2017 is over.
The heat wave is an important reminder to Californians that, while global warming may be happening and it may be dangerous, many people remain unaware of the degree to which it’s impacting our communities.
“I think a lot of people aren’t really paying attention to their own personal air-conditioning use, because it’s not that important,” Hulen says. “You get on your air conditioner for four or five years and get on it again when the sun goes down so you don’t have to think about it.”
California isn’t the only state that’s losing air-conditioning users. In 2017, more than 30 million people, roughly a third of all the nation’s households, cut back on their air conditioning. In L.A., the number of households that used their ACs less than seven days a month — called “airing-and-charging” — jumped 60 percent.
Why? Because the heat is going on and off every day. And the heat didn’t hit in August