It’s Hot Out and Culver City will Be Cranking the AC

Summer Energy Usage | Chai Energy

Our first summer heat wave is here!

Time to hit the beach or the cool button on your central air. But who in Southern California and across the greater LA area is using the most energy? And what areas are the most sensitive to rising temperatures? Let’s take a look.

We decided to analyze anonymous residential energy data from 500 Chai Energy users in Southern California throughout last year – and especially during the summer months. Here are the top ten energy using zip codes from June – August of last year (Avg. Daily Energy Use in watt-hour):

  1. La Verne, CA (9083.72 Wh)
  2. La Canada Flintridge, CA (3398.32 Wh)
  3. Ojai, CA (2682.44 Wh)
  4. Santa Monica, CA (1890.13 Wh)
  5. Huntington Beach, CA (1817.21 Wh)
  6. Arcadia, CA (1807.14 Wh)
  7. Oxnard, CA (1791.22Wh)
  8. Fontana, CA (1720.23 Wh)
  9. Long Beach, CA (1672.75Wh)
  10. Murrieta, CA (1496.01 Wh)

While this data is interesting, it’s important to note that some of our sample size may simply have more square feet to cool. Nevertheless, here it is in a bar chart:

Chai Energy Daily Energy Use Bar Chart

To get a better idea of who might be the most affected by the heat, we decided to take a closer look at zip codes that change their energy usage the most as the temperatures rises and the seasons change. It turns out that some zip codes in Southern California do react to the changing seasons more than others. Around 75 degrees becomes a tipping point of sorts for a lot of people in terms of turning on/up their AC or cooling system — which makes up as much as 50% of an energy bill.

Nerd Note: “Sensitivity” in this case was calculated by dividing the mean daily energy use for each ZIP code by its standard deviation (i.e., how many times greater is a ZIP code’s mean than its SD? The larger, the more consistent). Using standard deviation alone would give us a measure of variability, but this would unfairly bias us towards selecting ZIP codes with houses that use more energy (see graph below for positive relationship between mean and SD).

Here are those most likely to crank the AC today:

Culver City, CA

Are the folks in Culver City just an overly sensitive bunch? They may have some reason to be. Unlike the other two spots on this side of the energy usage charts when it gets warm, they don’t have the benefit of the direct ocean breeze. Today, temperatures there will max out above 92 degrees without any ocean cooling.

Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica has a reputation of being a landing spot for east coast defectors. Apparently these folks forget the meaning of seasons once they hit the left coast, as folks in Santa Monica are the second most active when it comes to turning up the energy when it starts to get hot (Note: they were also on the list of those using the most energy). 9o degree temperatures with oppressive humidity in the summer are normal on the east coast remember?

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara gets a bit of a reprieve from the heat wave today with temperatures leveling off in the 80’s. With moderate temperatures throughout the year making for warmer winters and cooler summers than inland locations, one has to wonder why Santa Barbara residents are so sensitive?

And those that aren’t seasonal sensitive:

Norwalk, CA

Norwalk residents don’t seem sensitive to changing weather. That’s a good thing because they’ll need some resolve today with temperatures topping 101 degrees! Those in Culver City could learn a thing or two from them on conserving energy.

Port Hueneme, CA

With the lowest average temperature in the coldest winter months dropping to around 45 degrees, and the highest summer temps hitting a delightful 74, there isn’t much need for people in Port Hueneme to crank the heat or cooling. Today it will likely only hit 82 degrees there.

Tustin, CA

Like other inland locations, it could reach above 100 today in Tustin! Good thing that residents in town are used to the scorching weather. Average highs in Tustin during the summer months are often in the mid 80’s, versus the low to mid 70’s by the Southern California coast.

One thing that was interesting in analyzing the data is that psychophysics is clearly at play. People are more liberal with their energy in the summer and winter, and more conservative in the spring and fall. That means that the same degree day might have a different effect on A/C use depending on whether it’s the spring/fall or summer. Folks think, “It’s summer, it’s hot, turn up the AC!”

Just not too much today, Culver City!

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