From the heat dome, and even before, everyone wondered how many households in our corner of the world have finally adopted air conditioning. Yesterday we received our best hint yet, although it still leaves a lot to the imagination.
A new national survey from the US Energy Information Administration reports that 53% of Washington households used some form of air conditioning in 2020, the second-fewest of any state (AC? Alaskans would never). About 30% of Washington households deployed central air to cool their homes, well below the national average of 67% for states. A quarter have installed individual units.
The residential energy consumption survey comes with an important caveat: the data doesn’t tell us how many people switched to air conditioning to prepare for that treacherous heat wave last year, naturally, since its answers are from 2020, not the end of 2021. detail the number of people in Seattle.
But it’s the first time this US energy survey has released state-level data, offering rare insight into how people are keeping cool in Washington and its many climates. A few other takeaways from the data drop:
- While we had the second-to-last use of air conditioning of any state, a handful of others—New York, New Hampshire, Hawai’i, Maine, and Vermont—had proportionally fewer homes with central air.
- We are not fans of fans. Oddly enough, given our lack of air conditioning, only 44% of homes in Washington have ceiling fans. It is the last among the states. (Must be a Washington thing; DC is at 41%).
- Nationally, our neighbors might rank low, but Oregon and Idaho have much higher percentages of homes using air conditioning: 76 and 80, respectively.
We’ll have to wait for the US Census Bureau’s 2021 US Housing Survey to get city-by-city numbers. In 2019, about 44% of Seattle homes were air-conditioned, according to AHS. The bureau said the data will be released later this quarter.