Majorities of Americans say it's too hot where they live and expect temperatures to rise in 10 years

Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
July 19, 2023, 7:06 PM GMT+0

A recent YouGov survey explores American experiences and attitudes regarding heat waves occurring across the U.S. this summer.

  • Three-quarters of Americans (76%) have heard at least a little about a recent heat wave in the Southern United States.
  • Far more Americans (43%) believe this summer has been much or somewhat hotter than usual in their area — including 58% of people who live in the South — than say it has been much or somewhat cooler (22%; 12% in the South).

  • One in five Americans (20%) say they experienced temperatures of at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit in their area in the week prior to the survey. Half (52%) experienced temperatures of at least 90 degrees.
  • When asked what temperature their area would ideally reach in the summer, just 5% say 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Among possible 10-degree ranges for ideal high temperature, the largest share — 42% — prefer a summer temperature of 80 to 89 degrees.
  • Most (55%) say that the past week in their area was much or somewhat too hot relative to their preferences; just 8% say it was too cool.
  • If forced to choose, more Americans say they'd rather be too cold (53%) than too hot (32%). Most people who say they prefer being cold also say they are more often too hot (63%) than too cold (24%). People who say they prefer being too hot more often say they're too cold (51%) than too hot (35%).
  • Nine in 10 Americans have access to air conditioning in their homes; 57% say they have a central A/C and 25% have either a window or wall unit.
  • A majority of Americans (59%) say they sometimes turn down the power on their air conditioner or refrain from using it in order to save money.
  • A vast majority of people — 91% — say that schools in parts of the U.S. that experience extreme heat should be required to have air conditioning; just 70% say the same about prisons in extreme-heat areas. Democrats (80%) are far more likely than Republicans (55%) to favor requiring air conditioning in prisons with extreme heat.
  • One in five Americans (19%) — including 26% of people in the South — say they've personally experienced a power outage this summer due to issues with the power grid. An additional 22% of people say it is very or somewhat likely that they will experience an outage this summer.
  • Many Americans have experienced health issues this summer that are often linked to extreme temperatures: 23% have experienced sunburn, 22% dehydration, 14% heat exhaustion, and 10% heat rash. Young people appear to be especially susceptible or exposed: 39% of adults under 30 say they've gotten a sunburn this summer and 32% have been dehydrated.
    • Among a list of possible responses to summer temperatures, 68% of Americans say they've drunk more water, 54% have worn lighter clothing, 52% have closed windows or doors, and 46% have reduced outdoor physical activities.
    • Americans are more likely to say that climate change is mostly or entirely responsible for the extent of recent heat waves than to 20% say it is not at all responsible (37% to 20%).
    • Most Americans expect the Earth's average temperature to go up in the next decade, with 26% saying it will go up a lot and 33% saying it will go up a little; 5% say temperatures will go down and 24% say they'll stay the same.

    See the results for this YouGov poll

    Methodology: This poll was conducted online on July 3 - 9, 2023 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.

    Image: Generated by author using Midjourney, an AI image-creation tool

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