As summers get hotter and extreme heat events become more common, it is increasingly uncomfortable to live without air conditioning. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the vast majority of American households do have air conditioning, but about 9% do not. Many of these households are located in cities with historically temperate climates, but climate change is expected to make extreme heat events not only more frequent but also more severe. Even areas with mild summers in the past, such as those in the Pacific Northwest, have already begun experiencing these changes.
Extreme weather events, such as heat waves and large storms, are more common today than they were in the past due to climate change. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the 1960s experienced an average of two heat waves per year. But by the 2010s, the average number of heat waves had tripled to six per year. Heat waves that affect locations with temperate climates can be especially dangerous since households are more likely to lack air conditioning. The Pacific Northwest had two extreme heat waves this summer, causing temperatures to rise to a sweltering 116℉ in Portland, OR and to 108℉ in Seattle.
Extreme heat events are a threat to public health, with more than 600 people per year killed by extreme heat. Poorer households and minority households are more likely to lack air conditioning, and are especially vulnerable during heat waves. In fact, data from the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey shows that nearly 12% of households below the poverty threshold lack air conditioning. In comparison, only about 8% of households with incomes greater than 300% of the poverty threshold do not have air conditioning.
In addition to socioeconomic status and race, geographic location and local climate are also good predictors of household air conditioning status. Households in more temperate climates are less likely to have an air conditioner. The Census Bureau’s 2019 American Housing Survey includes data from 10 states. Of these states, households in California and Colorado are much more likely to not have air conditioning than the much warmer states of Texas and Florida. Nearly a quarter of California households (23.8%) lack air conditioning compared to just 1.1% of households in Florida and 1.6% of households in Texas.
To find the states with the most residents lacking air conditioning, researchers at Filterbuy analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Zillow. The researchers ranked locations according to the percentage of households that lack air conditioning. Researchers also calculated the total number of households that lack air conditioning, the median home price, and the poverty rate.
The analysis found that in California, 23.8% of all households lack air conditioning. Of the 10 states included in the analysis, California reports the highest percentage of households that lack air conditioning. Here is a summary of the data for California:
- Percentage of households that lack air conditioning: 23.8%
- Total number of households that lack air conditioning: 3,163,300
- Median home price: $700,828
- Poverty rate: 11.8%
For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:
- Percentage of households that lack air conditioning: 8.8%
- Total number of households that lack air conditioning: 10,875,000
- Median home price: $298,933
- Poverty rate: 12.3%
For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on Filterbuy’s website: https://filterbuy.com/resources/us-cities-that-lack-air-conditioning/
Mike LaFirenza writes for Lattice News Wire