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Population-weighted degree-days: The global shift between heating and cooling

16 August, 2022

Population-weighted degree-days: The global shift between heating and cooling

Tadj Oreszczyn

Ian Hamilton

Research paper   Buildings & Energy

Harry Kennard, Tadj Oreszczyn, Malcolm Mistry and Ian Hamilton


Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are driving global increases in temperature. This rise will likely lead to an increase in demand for cooling in the coming years. However, increasing temperatures are not the main explanatory factor for why the world is moving towards more cooling. This paper compares population and area-weighted cooling and heating degree-days derived using ERA5-Land reanalysis temperature, to show that population growth in warmer parts of the world drives cooling demand globally. The analysis shows that mean global area-weighted heating degree-days have fallen 8.46°C days/year, whereas population-weighted heating degree-days have fallen by 12.5°C days/year. At the same time, mean global area-weighted cooling degree-days have risen by 3.0°C days/year, while population-weighted cooling degree-days have risen at 6.0°C days/year. By using sub-country analysis, this paper shows that population-weighted degree-days can substantially differ from area-weighted degree-days. Finally, the findings highlight that the choice of heating and cooling degree-day base temperature is the most important parameter in the variability of degree-days and will need to be understood better in order to accurately account for future heating and cooling energy demand.

Publication details

Kennard, H., Oreszczyn, T., Mistry, M. and Hamilton, I. 2022. Population-weighted degree-days: The global shift between heating and cooling. Energy and Buildings, 271: 112315. doi: 10.1016/j.enbuild.2022.112315Opens in a new tab 

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