Steel Markets

Slight Dip in October Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipments

Written by Brett Linton

U.S. heating and cooling equipment shipments slipped 1.9% in October to 2.05 million units, according to recent data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). October levels are down 1.5% from those 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. This past June saw a record-high shipment level of 2.32 million units in a single month.

Total 2021 shipments through October are now up to 20.7 million units, up 10.7% compared to 18.7 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 remain at record levels in 2021, each the highest seen in SMU’s 14-year data history.

As shown in the chart below, total heating and cooling shipments on a three-month moving average (3MMA) are down 0.1% year over year. May and June 2021 hold the record high 3MMA annual rates of change at 31.9% and 27.2%, respectively, and the record high prior to 2020 was 16.6% in February 2015.

Residential and commercial storage water heater shipments increased 4.1% year over year to a combined 923,292 units in October; 904,785 units were shipped for residential use and 18,507 units for commercial use.

October shipments of warm air furnaces totaled 331,664 units, a decrease of 7.4% compared to the same month last year. Prior to October, warm air furnace shipments had increased year-over-year for 15 consecutive months.

Central air conditioners and air-source heat pump shipments were down 4.9% from levels one year ago to 791,321 total units; 486,751 air conditioners and 304,570 heat pumps were shipped in October. This is now the fifth 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 October 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

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