It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to locals that Phoenix is the hottest major city in the United States. Our city has outdone itself with a staggering average of 107 days a year with temperatures over 99°F, outpacing even Las Vegas which trails us with “only” 70 days in the triple digits. On a warming planet, the intensity of our desert heat is a cause for concern, and also puts us at the forefront of finding sustainable ways to thrive in extreme heat.
Scientists concur we’ll be dealing with a changing climate and warming planet as we face the future. Along with an increase in global temperatures, the increased heat can strain our health and job performance. Excessive heat also increases our energy demands as we turn on air conditioners, fans and misters and all that power can make a city even hotter.
In Phoenix, many buildings are built with heat in mind, but structures that don’t consider heat control in their construction can pose expensive problems for their residents. Keeping a badly insulated home cool in the summer requires constant resources as cooling dissipates almost as quickly as it is generated. Phoenix also has a reputation as an “unwalkable” city -meaning that car ownership is high, contributing to air quality factors, overall heat and CO2 contributions to the atmosphere. Thinking about how we build and power a city is a major factor for moving into a hotter, drier future already being the country’s hottest city.
At the Vanguard of Heat
Being the country’s hottest city is a dubious honor, but it means Phoenix is a city many are looking to for ways to adapt to rising temperatures. Meanwhile, Phoenix has to look towards a near future where regular 130°F days are a high possibility. Heat can be deadly, and in the summertime heat related deaths and hospitalizations spike. For elderly residents, the homeless and those on a limited income, being able to get out of the heat can be particularly tricky.
That means pushing for ways to implement heat safety on a wide scale as part of public health are particularly important. Improving public transit, heat relief centers, and reducing the heat absorption of the city are on the forefront of improving Phoenix’s livability. To cope with the heat, people across the city are already taking action, and there are things you can do as well.
The New 9 to 5
One way to cope with increased heat has been to make a switch towards nocturnal schedules during peak heat. This holds especially true for outdoor jobs like construction and outdoor activities like hiking. Sleeping through the day’s hottest hours helps the human body cope with the heat because we are not expending extra energy on waking tasks. While working 9 (pm) to 5 (am) requires extra resources like lighting, for many people avoiding the sun’s brutal heat entirely is the best way to do their job right.
Businesses are also adapting to the heat, often by opening earlier, staying open later and even closing down during the day’s hottest hours. Entertainment in the city, such as restaurants and museums have started to shift their summer heat schedules to avoid the harshest part of the day.
One of the best ways to adapt to the heat is to invest in sustainable ways to cool yourself and your home or business. Planting native desert trees and drought-tolerant plants and xeriscaping can help cool down your home and yard. While concrete absorbs heat making the ground hotter, plants and trees offer shade and absorb some of our CO2 emissions to boot. Using water-wise plants in the Sonoran Desert is the best way to get plants you can maintain without disrupting your water bills.
There are great ways to passively cool your yard, home and business with durable shades. Here at CC Sunscreens, we specialize in custom built patio shades and sunscreens that block the sun and add comfort to your home. Sunscreens are crafted from durable materials for a long life and protect your home’s belongings from UV damage. For outdoor areas, patio shades create oases of relief from the sun. The best news is that sunscreens work passively, meaning they don’t require any energy to run or maintain and can greatly reduce your summertime energy bill.