The Real Cost of a Sweltering Summer

By Lewis Braham - 2012-07-19T00:21:34Z

Photograph by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

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Power outages

Heat wave-induced spikes in electrical demand can cause outages as power grids overload. About 2.2 million homes and businesses from Illinois to New Jersey lost power during this July's heat wave (and as a result of storms). The waste and loss of productivity that result can be tremendous as businesses close, computers shut down and food in refrigerators spoils. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, outages cost upwards of $119 billion a year, although not all that is related to heat waves. EPRI estimates the cost to build "smart" electrical grids to prevent outages would be $165 billion.