Steel Markets

HVAC Shipments Ease in August, But Strong for the Year

Written by Brett Linton

U.S. heating and cooling equipment shipments slowed in August to 2.05 million units, down 2.4% from July and down 11.4% from June’s record-high of 2.32 million units, according to recent data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). August levels are down 1.8% from levels seen one year prior. Recall that 2020 monthly shipment levels were somewhat erratic; shipments in the second quarter were significantly impacted by the coronavirus shutdowns, resulting in a surge in Q3/Q4 shipments as manufacturers ramped up production.

Total 2021 shipments through August are now up to 16.6 million units, up 13.5% compared to 14.6 million units shipped in the same period of 2020. As seen in the chart below, year-to-date (YTD) shipments for all three equipment types are at record levels, each the highest seen in SMU’s 14-year data history.

As a three-month moving average (3MMA), total heating and cooling shipments are down 0.2% year over year. Recall that May and June 2021 hold the record high 3MMA annual rate of change at 31.9% and 27.2%, respectively, and the record high prior to 2020 was 16.6% in February 2015. As shown in the chart below, August marks the first month 3MMA shipments have decreased on a year-over-year basis, following 13 consecutive months of increases.

Residential and commercial storage water heater shipments decreased 3.3% year over year to a combined 785,721 units in August; 763,823 units were shipped for residential use and 21,898 units for commercial use.

August shipments of warm air furnaces totaled 336,119 units, an increase of 3.2% compared to the same month last year. This is now the 14th consecutive month that warm air furnace shipments have increased year-over-year.

Central air conditioners and air-source heat pump shipments were down 2.2% from levels one year ago to 929,560 total units; 588,595 air conditioners and 340,965 heat pumps were shipped in August. This is now the third consecutive month that shipments have decreased year-over-year.

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 through the latest data. 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

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

Read more from Brett Linton

Latest in Steel Markets