Steel Markets

Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipments Up 10% in 2021

Written by Brett Linton

U.S. heating and cooling equipment shipments in December rose 3.7% from November to 1.85 million units, according to recent data from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Total shipment levels are up 2.4% 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. June 2021 saw a record-high shipment level of 2.32 million units in a single month.

Total 2021 shipments are now at 24.3 million units, up 9.8% compared to 22.2 million units shipped in the same period of 2020. As seen in the chart below, annual shipment levels for all three equipment types ended the year at record levels, 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 up 2.8% 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 0.9% year over year to a combined 891,872 units in December; 870,133 units were shipped for residential use and 21,739 units for commercial use. This is now the fourth consecutive month that water heater shipments have increased on a year-over-year basis.

December shipments of warm air furnaces totaled 327,250 units, a decrease of 8.5% compared to the same month last year.

Central air conditioners and air-source heat pump shipments were up 11.6% from levels one year ago to 629,809 total units in December; 352,196 air conditioners and 277,613 heat pumps were shipped. Prior to November, year-over-year shipments had decreased for the five previous months.

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 December 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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