Pennsylvania Energy Proposal

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As was the case for the rest of the nation, in 1940, coal use dominated residential energy consumption the Mid-Atlantic. It accounted for 78% of energy use, and was a larger proportion of the Midt proportion, yet steep decline from 1940. Its contraction was compensated for by the growth in gas and oil that grew to be 15% and 30% of the Mid-Atlantic’s energy mix respectively. This contraction of coal and expansion of oil and gas was consisent with national

Pennsylvania’s Unique Climate Characteristics

Like all of the states in the Mid-Atlantic region, Pennsylvania’s general climate scheme is humid continental. The changeable nature of weather in all seasons is a characteristic feature of this climate with ample precipitation varying from 50cm to 120cm distributed evenly throughout the year. Rainfall provides water for a multitude of plush broadleaf forests, meadows, and wetlands that account for Pennsylvania’s ecosystems. Pennsylvania natives enjoy four distinct seasons are evenly spaced throughout the year with a typical growing season of 130 to 165 days per year.

Yearly Average Precipitation

©1999 World Book Online

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Throughout the state, temperatures generally remain between 0° and 100° and average from near 47° annually in the north-central mountains to 57° annually in the extreme southeast. Pennsylvania’s classification as humid continental sets it apart from many of the other states and effects the way in which its residence inhabit their homes.

Most important to our research is the variance in temperatures throughout the state because homes in different regions of Pennsylvania will have specific energy needs that are affected by their physiographic location. During the coldest months, temperatures within the state average near the freezing point with daily minimum readings sometimes near 0° or below. Freezing temperatures occur on the average of 100 or more days annually with the greatest number of occurrences in mountainous regions. Records show that freezing temperatures have occurred somewhere in the state during all months of the year and below 0° readings from November to April, inclusive (State Climatologist).

Planners use a meteorological term called HDD (Heating Degree Days) as a quantitative expression for the total time (measured in days) during a year that a home needs to be heated. Knowing the houses size and R-values (energy retaining characteristics) and HDD one can easily determine how much space heating a home requires in one year. The information in graphs ---- and --- show the heating degree-days and cooling degree-days taken over a 30 year period of time. We see here that the number of days a home would require heating varies with Southeastern Pennsylvania requiring the least, at 5000 heating degree days (166 in a single year). As you approach central Pennsylvania there is an increase to 6000 HDD (200) and in western Pennsylvania to 6500 HDD (216). 7500 (250) is the greatest number of heating degree-days in north-central Pennsylvania. This means that homes in southeastern Pennsylvania theoretically use the least energy for home heating and homes in north-central Pennsylvania use the most energy. Considerations of which parts of the state use the most energy will indicate which residents will be affected most by price increases and are therefore important later in the report.

Average January Temperatures

©1999 World Book Online
In general, because of these cold temperatures homes in Pennsylvania more regularly heated then southern states and less regularly than states to the north. Space heating accounts for approximately 60% of the total energy use in the home and therefore is the single biggest issue on the energy demand side followed by hot water heating (20%) and lighting (3-5%) (Swisher, 40). It isn’t uncommon for a Pennsylvania homeowner who heats with electricity to see their electricity bill increase over 300% in fall and winter months. Further, unpredictable temperatures, mild stints during winter months, make it necessary for readily accessible “switch on, switch off” home space-heating convenience, resistance heating being a prime candidate in many homes. Better matching of energy supply to end-use, decreasing heat losses, and conscious efforts to conserve energy are all options that will be discussed in the second half of the energy proposal for Pennsylvania.

Summers are warm in Pennsylvania, averaging about 68° along Lake Erie to 74° in southeastern counties. High temperatures, 90° or above, occur on the average of 10 to 20 days per year in most sections; but occasionally southeastern localities may experience a season with as many as 35 days, while the extreme northwest averages as few as 3 days annually. Only rarely does a summer pass without excessive temperatures being reported somewhere in the state. However, there are places such as immediately adjacent to Lake Erie and at some higher elevations where readings of 100° have never been recorded. Daily temperatures during the warm season usually have a range of about 20° over much of the state, while the daily range in the winter is several° less. The state is split on a diagonal with the northwest triangle having about 500 (17) cooling degree-days in the thirty year period (17CDD per year) (map ---) with the exception of the Pittsburgh and the southwest corner of the state which follows the rest of the state at 1000 (33) cooling degree days.

Average July Temperatures

©1999 World Book Online

Although this is a smaller percentage of annual energy usage than home space heating (3:1 by fig. 3), home space cooling is still an end-use of energy that needs to be examined. As in most other places in the country, Pennsylvania cools one of two ways, central air conditioner units or window units (fans of all sorts are considered house appliances). Central air conditioning is more efficient by roughly 200% percent.

Fig 3: Residential primary energy consumption by end-use, 1990, 1997, 2010, and 2020

(percent of total)
Thus, Pennsylvania is a very unique state for a few reasons. The range in heating/cooling degree-days throughout the state indicates that there are varying residential energy needs throughout the state. Even within these regions there are certain areas of Pennsylvania where the temperatures change unexpectedly. Therefore a plan for providing and using energy in the home must be regional and flexible. A logical way to start organizing a plan is to split Pennsylvania up into physiographic regions.

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