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Weathering the Elements: Tips for Riding Out Extremes with less Energy

by Sensix Team

Weather is a major factor that affects energy consumption by determining specific patterns. In particular, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind speed all have a significant impact on how much energy we use. Several studies have explored the link between various weather conditions and energy use. According to a paper analyzing climate impacts on temperature and electricity consumption, temperature was found to be the most important weather factor influencing residential energy demand. Additional research has also shown that humidity, precipitation, wind speed, and other solar factors can all impact energy usage to varying degrees.


The most important weather factor affecting energy consumption is temperature. In general, we use more energy to heat our homes and businesses in the winter and more energy to cool them in the summer. For example, an analysis addressing the relationship between weather and energy usage shows that a 1.6 degree Fahrenheit increase in average winter temperature can lead to a 6-10% decrease in space heating needs, while a 1 degree Fahrenheit decrease in average summer temperature can lead to a 5-20% decrease in cooling needs.

When it comes to commercial buildings like stores and offices they also use more energy to heat and cool extreme indoor temperatures. Temperature sensitivity increases energy costs.


Humidity also has a significant impact on energy consumption. Moisture in the air makes us feel warmer, so we tend to use more energy to cool our homes and businesses. In the same research mentioned above it was shown how a 10% increase in relative humidity can lead to a 1-2% increase in cooling energy use.

High humidity also amplifies the perceived temperature, causing thermostats to be lowered further. This leads to air conditioners running longer periods.

Similarly, food storage operations encounter larger cooling loads to combat moisture and prevent spoilage when humidity spikes. So extra diesel is burned for commercial refrigeration.


Precipitation can affect energy consumption. Rain and snow can lead to power outages, which can increase energy use as people try to stay warm or cool. In addition, precipitation can make it difficult to generate electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind power.

Stormy conditions can spur power outages through flooding, fallen lines etc., so backup generators will consume fuel to restore critical services.

Precipitation also hinders solar panel effectiveness by restricting sunlight absorption and wind power through turbine downtime. This way the production is diminished.

Wind Speed

Wind can be used to generate electricity, but it can also make it difficult to operate power plants. In addition, wind can cause power outages, which can increase energy use. 

Strong winds may ground aircraft and vessels, lowering jet and marine fuel needs in the transportation sector temporarily. Also, gusty weather can delay outdoor activities, shifting demand toward indoor electricity for lighting, HVAC and electronics instead of daylight.

Other factors

In addition to temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind speed, other weather factors can also affect energy consumption. For example, solar radiation can increase energy use for appliances and electronics, while fog can decrease energy use for transportation. Overcast days correlate to more lighting, screen time and appliance usage as people spend more time inside. On the other hand, agricultural operations like greenhouses also require supplementary heating on cloudy winter days.

Extreme conditions in residential areas

  • Heating/Cooling Needs: During extreme hot or cold spells, households use more energy to keep indoor temperatures comfortable. This applies both to heating and cooling systems in homes. Air conditioning loads spike on very hot days even when outdoor activity is minimal.
  • Power Outages: Severe storms, flooding, wildfires etc. that cause utility outages lead to extra residential energy usage when power is restored as people attempt to regain indoor climate control or food preservation. Backup generators consume significant fuel.
  • Food Preservation: In extended outages or heat waves, households use additional refrigerators, freezers, and portable cooling devices to avoid food spoilage, increasing appliance electricity needs.
  • Domestic Hot Water: Winter cold snaps or summer long bouts of hot temps cause heavier hot water heater cycling to meet sanitation and cleaning demands, lifted gas/electricity burdens.
  • Lighting/Electronics: Residential lighting electricity consumption rises in prolonged blackouts as do recreational screen time and device charging when people spend greater time indoors seeking refuge from extreme outdoor conditions.
  • Temperature Extremes While Away: Unoccupied homes/offices require extra “setback” heating/cooling to re-warm or re-cool interiors on occupants’ return from a weather event, adding to neighborhood loads.

So in many ways, life or property-threatening weather amplifies residential energy infrastructure and appliance dependency. Efficiency and moderation of use can help mitigate growing demands.


Weather is a major factor that affects energy consumption. By understanding how weather affects energy use, we can take steps to reduce our energy consumption and save money. There are a number of things that we can do to reduce our energy consumption in response to weather changes. These include:

  • Using energy-efficient appliances and electronics.
  • Weatherizing our homes and businesses to make them more energy-efficient.
  • Trying renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
  • Reducing our reliance on transportation during extreme weather events.

By taking these steps, we can help to reduce our impact on the environment and why not save money on our energy bills.

Want to know more about the Sensix solution and energy efficiency? Just write to us.


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