loading page

The Goldilocks Zone in Cooling Demand: What can we do better?
  • Rohini Kumar,
  • Debora Maia-Silva,
  • Roshanak Nateghi
Rohini Kumar
UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
Author Profile
Debora Maia-Silva
Purdue University, Purdue University
Author Profile
Roshanak Nateghi
Purdue University, Purdue University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile


The higher frequency and intensity of sustained heat events have increased the demand for cooling energy across the globe. Current estimates of summer-time energy demand are primarily based on Cooling Degree Days (CDD), representing the number of degrees a day’s average temperature exceeds a predetermined comfort zone temperature. Through a comprehensive analysis of the historical energy demand data across the USA, we show that the commonly used CDD estimates fall significantly short (±25%) of capturing regional thermal comfort levels. Moreover, given the increasingly compelling evidence that air temperature alone is not sufficient for characterizing human thermal comfort, we extend the widely-used CDD calculation to heat index, which accounts for both air temperature and humidity. Our results indicate significant mis-estimation of regional thermal comfort when humidity is ignored. Our findings have significant implications for the security, sustainability, and resilience of the grid under climate change.
Jan 2022Published in Earth's Future volume 10 issue 1. 10.1029/2021EF002476