Steel Markets

Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipments Saw New Highs in 2020

Written by Brett Linton

December heating and cooling equipment shipments totaled just over 1.8 million units, up 8.9% from November and up 12.2% from levels one year prior, according to recent data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

Total shipments for 2020 reached 22.2 million units, up 6.8% over both 2019 and 2018. As seen in the chart below, year-to-date shipments for water heaters and central air conditioners/heat pumps are at the highest levels seen in recent years.

As a three-month moving average (3MMA), total heating and cooling shipments were up 20.9% year-over-year, as shown in the chart below. This is the seventh consecutive month that 3MMA shipments have increased on a year-over-year basis. Due to the uptick in late-summer and fall shipments, September, October and November saw the largest 3MMA annual rates of change in SMU’s limited history, reaching a record +26.3% in November. Prior to 2020, the previous record 3MMA annual rate of change was 16.6% in February 2014.

Residential and commercial storage water heater shipments increased 9.4% year over year to a combined 883,730 units in December; 862,876 units were shipped for residential use and 20,854 units for commercial use. 2020 shipments totaled 9.5 million units, up 7.3% over the year prior.

December shipments of warm air furnaces totaled 357,764 units, an increase of 22.3% compared to the same month last year. Annual warm air furnace shipments declined 2.7% from 2019 to 2020, to just under 3.4 million units.

Central air conditioners and air-source heat pump shipments were up 10.9% over levels one year ago to 564,143 total units; 321,891 air conditioners and 242,252 heat pumps were shipped in December. 2020 shipments were up 10.1 percent over 2019, totaling just over 9.3 million units.

The full press release is available on the AHRI website here.

Below is a graph showing the history of total water heater, warm air furnace and air conditioner shipments. To use its interactive features, view the graph on our website by clicking here. For assistance with either logging in or navigating the website, contact

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