Air Conditioning and Heating Systems in New Homes


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).


Heating Systems

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).


5 replies

  1. You refer to heat pumps becoming more common in Southeast. What percent use a geothermal heat pump? Why are not more people investing in geothermal? I heard it takes 12 years to make up the initial investment through lower utility cost. Is that accurate?

    • I have a geothermal system…installed 16 years ago. We were facing replacing an old oil furance that was drinking oil ! Our system at the time for 2400 sq ft was $22,000. Now that included upgraded electric, $2k. We also had to install vents for AC. So if you added the cost of a new boiler (which would still use oil ) and AC, which we needed, it would come to around $18,000…. For us it was a no brainer. I have AC now throughout the house, which before we were using one window unit for our bedroom.

      As far as utility cost, I am no longer oil depended which has saved huge amounts of money. I would do it again and plan on any new homes I buy would have geothermal put in. I live just south of Washington DC, where are summers are often very humid. Without AC and dehumdifer in basement, my house would grow a lot mold…it’s happened, before the new system. I spend around $200 in summer ( July, August)…winter, with no added insulation or new windows, it’s anywhere from $300 to $ 500..depending on how cold it is. Spring and fall, electric is under $100.

      Hiope this helps….

  2. Hi Glen. Thank you for your questions. I have some NAHB research that I would like to share with you regarding your questions. My email address is

    • Hi Carmel,
      Thanks for getting back to me. How common is it for people to use a geothermal system to heat and cool the house? I know these systems are more expensive but in our nation’s efforts to reduce the use of energy. It may be a good investment that can pay for itself in eight years. Do you have any data on that? Thanks for your information.

  3. I think the future systems will be definitely powered by electricity – thanks writing this piece. Very good! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *