Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Americans Staying Cool In Record Numbers: AC Jumps

A lot more Americans are staying cool during hot summer days than just 16 years ago. In 1993 68% of USA households had air conditioning. By 2009, 100 million homes or 87% did, according to the Energy Information Administration.

With air conditioning growth has often come a bigger home too.  A bigger, air conditioned home over the last 50 years has been part of what rising incomes bought. 

The last 10 years, however, have not seen rising real incomes for many Americans so the trend to bigger, air conditioned houses has likely run its course.  In fact the real median national income has fallen since the credit crisis and near total economic collapse triggered by the Lehmann bankruptcy on September 15, 2008.

The increase in air conditioning usage from 1993 to 2009 is one reason why the nation's electricity usage during that period normally increased close to 2% every year.  Rising temperatures, population growth, growing GDP, more work being done with electricity are still other explanations.

Air conditioning efficiency standards were also raised during this time and that moderated air conditioning demand and electricity bills. 


  1. http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=111000&hmpn=1
    World energy consumption will grow 53% by 2035, led by demand growth in India and China, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday in a report.

    The 2011 International Energy Outlook predicts that consumption of energy from renewable sources will be the fastest growing energy sector, reaching 15% of the world energy use by 2035 compared to 10% in 2008. But fossil fuels will still be the world's dominant source, accounting for about 78% of the world's energy use in 2035, the report said.

  2. We know any energy forecast to 2035 are interesting and wrong. My guess is that this forecast gets energy consumption growth too high and gets the renewable percentage too low. Demand will rise but the surprise will be that it rises much less than projected today. Renewables will grow but even faster than predicted here mainly because of solar and the moves of both Japan and Germany, the world's 3rd and 4th biggest economies, to focus on developing renewables. Just my educated guesses.

  3. Thanks for the additional input; modeling a couple of decades out using a reference case where everything continues "as is" is indeed interesting, and a bit misleading; however, I posted that projection because I think it is relevant, even if it isn't a crystal ball. Many other countries would like a similar quality of living as Americans have, including having luxuries like AC (for example, consider that dogs are not only a tasty treat in many parts of china, but are also becoming more popular house pets as well).
    If places like China and India develop as recklessly and wastefully as the U.S. has over the past 100 years, or maybe even if they don't, they will likely be putting significant strains on the world resources and environment.
    I do like your more optimistic outlook though.

  4. The long term projections are relevant, informative. China, India are one-third of the world's population and are driving substantial energy demand increases. No argument from me on that. Indeed the 53% energy demand increase projection could be low. The world will use a lot more energy than today by 2035. Even a 30% or 40% increase by then would be major.

  5. Most AC systems in America are GROSSLY oversized, wasting capital and operational costs -- not to mention energy. We write about this topic a lot at www.greenspirationhome.com. Get educated before you make that decision!