ARLINGTON, Va. - Air conditioning and heat pump sales are beginning to balance out after a slower start in 2007. The 13 SEER transition and related events may have artificially pumped up the industry and subsequently artificially deflated it as well. Consequently, industry numbers are returning to a normal level, as evidenced in the year-to-date combined U.S. factory shipment numbers reporting a 10 percent drop from the same period last year, totaling 5.7 million units.

In spite of the leveling off of the numbers, October’s shipments jumped 9 percent from October 2006, totaling 393,652. According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), heat pump shipments for October were also down. Dropping 4 percent as compared with October 2006, the units totaled 117,224. Year-to-date heat pump shipments are down 11 percent from the same period last year, totaling 1,661,484.

October’s construction numbers sent mixed messages as well. In the residential construction category, housing starts increased 3 percent from Sept. 2007.

According to Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), this gain partially recuperated the 11 percent drop from August to September of this year, however, it still left yearly totals 16 percent below Oct. 2006 levels. Building permits, one of the near-term future starts indicators, fell 6.6 percent for the month of October and 24 percent as compared to Oct. 2006. Due to the slowing building market, copper and brass mill shapes dropped 0.5 percent for the month of October, and 2.2 percent as compared to the same time last year.

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Publication date:12/24/2007