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Published: Sunday 18 August, 2013

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By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY



Global warming may lower energy bills in some places, but the airconditioning bill in others is going to hurt a lot worse, according to a new study.



In particular, the study scheduled for publication in the August Geophysical Research Letters suggests turning on the air conditioner could make global warming worse because the electricity widely relies on coal power plants, which add warming greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.



The study, the first of its kind, looked ahead to changes in energy use and fossil fuel consumption nationwide through 2025. Led by Stanton Hadley of the Oak Ridge Tenn. National Laboratory, the researchers examined whether savings in winter heating bills might outweigh the added costs of summer air conditioning brought about by global warming.



An international climate panel report in 2001 produced by hundreds of climate scientists and ratified by government representatives from 141 nations, including the USA, projected that global warming would increase average temperatures roughly 3 to 9 degrees by the end of the century. National Academy of Sciences says that largely through burning fossil fuels and other industrial activities, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere already have increased those temperatures about 1 degree during the 20th century.



Overall, the study found carbon dioxide emissions increasing more over time as coal is burned in Southern and Western states to power air conditioners during warmer and warmer summers. Meanwhile, New England states, while saving somewhat on energy bills, didnt have much warmer winters, the climate model shows. Future research will consider how population shifts might affect energy bills.



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