Google data shows what people are looking for during big heat waves

Google has used its mass of data to examine terms used in recent decades during heat waves. The subject has arisen due to the massive heat waves that are hitting parts of the United States and Canada, including areas such as the Pacific Northwest where temperatures are generally mild and conditions are generally rainy. Not surprisingly, people really want air conditioners.

Summer in the United States has kicked off with all-time highs in several states, with many areas exceeding 100F for several days, including states that do not typically experience such heat. The Pacific Northwest is an example of a place severely affected by heat, especially due to the lack of air conditioning as a common fixture in Washington and Oregon.

As you might expect, Google searches for air conditioning have exploded, especially searches for air conditioning installation services, at least according to Google. The company recently shared some information on what people are looking for during heat waves, noting that searches for installing air conditioners have been increasing every summer for several years.

In addition, searches for the term “heat wave” have increased steadily; using historical data stretching back decades (including content from books and other print media via Google Books), the term has been in use since at least the year 1800. However, based on Google data, its use has only increased since the mid-1980s, highlighting climate change in recent decades.

Some terms are a bit misleading, however, and may not refer to heat waves, Google notes. An example is the term “scorcher”, which currently means a particularly hot day. However, the Google blog post on these search terms notes that the historical peaks in the term’s use were due to its different meaning in the distant past, and not due to particularly hot summers.


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