Environment

Miamians are the worst electricity hogs in the U.S., new survey says. Blame AC.

Air conditioning is a major energy eater in Miami.
Air conditioning is a major energy eater in Miami. Herald file

Miami tops a new list of energy-inefficient cities, which comes as no surprise to any South Floridian who has ever paid an electricity bill after a sweltering July.

Arcadia Power, a clean energy company, surveyed 7,400 of its customers in 15 cities — including hundreds of Miamians — on their electricity use. Data released Tuesday showed Miami’s energy usage is 25 percent above the national average.

Considering energy use is one of the biggest factors affecting how severe climate change will be (and that Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities in the nation), this isn’t a good look for the Magic City. At least it has company. Arcadia’s list saw other cities likely to be impacted by climate change, including Atlanta, Charlotte and Phoenix, ranked as more inefficient cities too.

In fact, Arcadia said that these cities are “shooting themselves in the foot” by emitting avoidable greenhouse gasses.

“We wanted to help people around the country see how their own personal energy usage impacts climate change,” said Joel Gamoran, Arcadia’s director of Energy Services. “By getting this information out there, people will think about the impact of the energy usage in their home.”

electricity
Data via Arcadia Power

It’s hardly the most comprehensive study, but it isn’t the only one that points out Miami needs to conserve more energy. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked 51 large U.S. cities on their energy saving activities. Miami came in 46th.

The reason why Miami and other hot cities topped the list isn’t hard to guess.

“AC is definitely going to be a big factor there,” Gamoran said.

Air conditioning is an electricity intensive activity, as opposed to heating in naturally colder cities — often done by burning wood or natural gas, which wasn’t accounted for in the survey. Burning fuel is a carbon-intensive process that contributes to global warming, and it makes up a larger share of the fuel used by Northern regions.

A spokesman for Florida Power and Light, the main energy producer in the region, expressed doubt at the survey’s ability to truly compare greenhouse gas emissions without looking at total energy usage.

In a statement, spokesman Chris McGrath highlighted FPL’s energy efficient tools, “including the Online Home Energy Survey, which helps customers create a personalized roadmap to energy savings, and the Online Energy Dashboard, which allows customers to track their energy use by the month, day and even down to the hour.”

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