Energy Efficiency & Geographic Location

Tue, 2010-07-13 07:50

The last week in Germany without air conditioning has me thinking about whether it is more energy efficient to live in Germany or Charlotte. Germany has mild summers and cold winters. Charlotte has hot summers and mild winters. Where would a person use less energy? Does it take more energy to heat a home or to cool it? Which is the worse environmental impact?

For Germany (or other cold climates), heat is usually generated in the home or building so there is no transmission lost. We gain nearly 100% utilization of the heat generated. Additionally, the heating source is usually natural gas or solar thermal. Both of these sources are relatively environmentally friendly with natural gas being the cleanest burning and solar thermal being a renewable form of energy. If this was the Northeastern US, where Heating Oil is primarily used, or a place where electric heat is used, that would probably not be so environmental.

For Charlotte (or other warmer climates), air conditioners require electricity which is usually generated offsite and, of which, at least half is lost in the transmission of the electricity from the power plant to my house. If it takes the same amount of energy to raise or lower the air temperature in a home, then I would think that Charlotte has an advantage. In Charlotte, the air conditioning only usually has to change the temperatures by 10-20 degrees ( from 80 or 90 down to 70) which seems to imply that it should require less energy than Germany where they must raise the temperature by 30-50 degrees (from 20 or 40 to 70).

At the end of the day I think it is a wash. I know that for me personally, in the winter I like it a little cooler in the house so I don’t heat much about 60 or 62 whereas in the summer, I want it as cold as I can get it which is usually 70 to 72. I tend to think that this would make me more energy efficient in a cold climate. I suppose that I could do an energy analysis of my utility bills from Germany and Charlotte and see where exactly I used more energy. What do you think? Is that a valid argument, does where you live affect your energy usage?

Related Blogs

Request Information

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.