Air Conditioning Systems
The US Census Bureau publishes information on characteristics of new homes started, including air conditioning and heating systems.
In 2015, approximately 93 percent of new homes started in the US had central AC. Central AC has been a common feature in new homes for some time, but its share did grow some between 2000 and 2015, going from 86 percent to 93 percent.
The share of new homes with central AC differs by Census Division (Figure 1). The New England and Pacific divisions, which have more temperate climates, have lower rates of central AC installed (73 percent and 69 percent in 2015, respectively). In contrast, in regions that are hotter and more humid, all or nearly all of the new homes started have central AC: for example, in the South Atlantic (100 percent), East South Central (100 percent), and the West South Central Divisions (99 percent).
The majority of new homes started in 2015 have either a forced air system (55 percent) or an air or ground source heat pump system (42 percent). The share of new homes that have a heat pump has grown over time, going from 23 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the share with a forced air system has declined, going from 71 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2015.
Heat pumps are more prevalent in Southern regions where air and ground temperatures don’t fall as much (Figure 2): East South Central (75 percent), South Atlantic (74 percent), and West South Central (45 percent). They are less so in the West North Central (29 percent), Pacific (14 percent), Middle Atlantic (13 percent), Mountain (12 percent), East North Central (11) percent, and New England divisions (4 percent).
The majority of new homes started had their heating systems powered by either electricity (40 percent) or natural gas (55 percent) in 2015. In regions such as the Middle Atlantic and New England, where electricity tends to be more expensive, the share of new homes with systems powered by electricity is low (13 and 5 percent, respectively). On the other hand, systems powered by electricity are more common in the south: for example, in the South Atlantic (72 percent), the East South Central (71 percent), and the West South Central (41 percent).