News Analysis

Future Heat Waves Will Kill Power and AC—and People

Passive cooling strategies are surprisingly effective, even as heat waves become more extreme.

Cities are getting dangerously hot. It is fairly obvious that more people will need air conditioning (AC). But there are a couple of reasons adding AC alone won’t keep people safe, says recent research.

There are equity concerns with AC units. They come with ongoing maintenance expenses, can spike utility bills, and require an occupant to be of sound enough body and mind to turn them on. Of the 54 deaths in the Portland, Oregon, metro area during the 2021 heat dome event, eight occurred in apartments with AC. One did not have the capacity to keep up with the extreme temperatures, but the other seven units were found to be inoperable or turned off.

Published July 10, 2023

Pearson, C. (2023, June 27). Future Heat Waves Will Kill Power and AC—and People. Retrieved from