Steel Markets

US Heating and Cooling Equipment Shipments in May: Flattening Out?

Written by Brett Linton

US heating and cooling equipment shipments rose 1% from April to May. They now stand at 2.09 million units according to data from the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). Recall that two months prior, in March, we saw the third highest monthly shipment rate in our history at 2.28 million units (behind June 2021 at 2.32 million units and June 2020 at 2.28 million units). Total May shipments are down 4% compared to levels one year prior.

On a twelve-month moving average (12MMA) basis, shipments averaged 2.03 million tons per month over the past year, down less than 1% from the March 12MMA (when we saw the highest level in our recorded history). Shipments averaged 2.03 million units per month in 2021, up 10% compared to 1.85 million units per month shipped in the same period of 2020.

As shown in the chart below, total heating and cooling shipments on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis are down 2% year over year. Prior to May, we saw an annual growth rate between 2-3% for each month since November 2021. May and June 2021 hold the record high 3MMA annual rates of change at 32% and 27%, respectively. Prior to 2020, the record high was 17% in February 2015.

Residential and commercial storage water heater shipments decreased 9% year over year to a combined 740,737 units in May; 723,915 units were shipped for residential use and 16,822 units for commercial use. Water heater shipments are down 8% month over month.

May shipments of warm air furnaces totaled 325,159 units, a decrease of 4% compared to the same month last year. This is the sixth consecutive month that shipments have decreased on a year-over-year basis. Shipments for warm air furnaces rose 1% from April.

Central air conditioners and air-source heat pump shipments were flat compared to one year ago at 1.02 million total units in May: 622,397 air conditioners and 401,269 heat pumps were shipped. AC and heat pump shipments are up 9% compared to one month prior.

Year-to-date (YTD) shipments through May 2022 are now up to 10.1 million units, nearly identical to the number of units shipped in the first five months of 2021, and up from 8.13 million units in the same period of 2020. As seen in the chart below, 2022 YTD shipments for water heaters (4.08 million) and warm air furnaces (1.62 million) are both slightly below shipments in the same period of 2021 (4.13 million and 1.73 million, respectively). YTD air conditioner shipments reached 4.40 million units in the first five months of this year, a record high within SMU’s 14-year data history.

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

An interactive history of heating and cooling equipment shipment data is available here on our website. If you need assistance logging in to or navigating the website, please contact us at

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

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