EIA Sees Business Opportunities in Air Conditioning Upgrades

A "significant business opportunity" to reduce home cooling costs by upgrading to more energy efficient air conditioning equipment is noted by the Energy information Administration (EIA) in the results of its Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The survey of households in 2009 found that 87% of US households have air conditioning, but only 42% have routine service or maintenance done on their central air conditioning systems.
The newer the house, the greater the likelihood that routine service or maintenance was performed on central air conditioning systems. Maintenance on  air conditioners is done in 22% of the homes built in the 1960s, 27% of the homes built in the 1970's, 30% of the homes built in the 1980s and 36% of the homes built in the 1990s. Contrary to this trend. 55% of the homeowners in homes built in the 2000-2009 span did not do routine air conditioner maintenance.
The survey found that over 10% of the homes with air conditioning have equipment predating the first federal energy efficiency standards from the early 1990s. These air conditioners may use up to twice the amount of energy used by today's equipment. The EIA finds that original equipment predating efficiency standards is mostly found in homes built in the 1970s and the 1980s.
Air conditioner usage has grown from 68% in 1993 to 87% or 98 million households in 2009. The South has nearly universal air conditioning usage. Nationally according to the EIA, "except for the few temperate regions on the West Coast, air conditioners are now standard equipment in most homes, especially in those newly constructed."
Programmable thermostat usage, to lower the air conditioner's output when it is not most needed, does not mirror air conditioner use. While the South has almost double the amount of central air conditioners running all summer than the northeast and the west, the South only had 38% programmable thermostat usage compared to 65% in the West and 60% in the Northeast. The Midwest, with similar all-summer usage to the South has more programmable thermostats than the South, but still less than the West and Northeast. Overall 22% of detached single family homes use a programmable thermostat to adjust temperature during sleeping hours or when no one is home during the day.
The survey found that energy efficient double- or triple-pane window use has grown from 52% in pre-1990 homes to 80% in homes built from 2000 to 2009, an important step toward improving the energy efficiency of the cooling systems in the home. Weather stripping or caulking was added by 35% all households and 26% added insulation reduce air leakage and heat loss. These results are a great start but leave plenty of room for growth. As the EIA noted, the effort to make home cooling more energy efficient presents a real opportunity for job creation and business development.
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I am a Seattle-based writer. Energy efficiency and the achievement of human potential are my goals. I have worked as a legislative aide and a database manager, and recently started building a money- and energy-saving household goods online store featuring sensible and affordable home environment solutions including ENERGY STAR qualified products. Contact: Twitter: @Greenbespoke @SaveWattsatHome