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Survey: A/C accounts for 12% of home energy costs per year

July 24, 2018

This time of year, the air conditioning feels like it’s running nonstop.

But a recent survey found that home air conditioning accounts for only 12 percent of all home energy expenditures in a year.

Home air conditioning costs averaged $265 in 2015, according to the latest Residential Energy Consumption Survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA survey found that air conditioning equipment is used in 87 percent of homes in the United States.

Air conditioning costs ranged from an average of $525 in the hot-humid region in the Southeast - Florida, Louisiana and parts of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina - to about $60 in the temperate marine region along the West Coast - parts of California, Oregon and Washington. The more moderate mixed-humid region, where home air conditioning costs averaged $262, was closest to the national average, according to the EIA.

The average U.S. household spent $1,856 on home energy bills in 2015. Although air conditioning accounted for 12 percent of total household energy costs (and 17 percent of electricity expenditures) at the national level, some regions use much more air conditioning, the EIA said.

In the hot-humid region, where air conditioning was used by 94 percent of households, air conditioning made up 27 percent of home energy expenditures. By comparison, in the marine region, where nearly half of households did not use air conditioning at all, air conditioning made up just 2 percent of home energy expenditures, the survey said.

In the “cold/very cold” region in which Pennsylvania sits, air conditioning made up 5 percent of home energy expenditures in 2015.

About 60 percent of U.S. households only used central air conditioning systems in 2015, while 23 percent only used individual air conditioning units.

Households that used central systems spent about twice as much for air conditioning in 2015 as households with individual units, with average costs of $299 compared with $156, according to the EIA.

However, because the homes using central systems were often larger, the cost per square foot of using an individual unit was about twice as much as using a central system - $0.31 per square foot compared with $0.15 per square foot.

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