Furnace shipments are up according to the October numbers released by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). U.S. factory shipments of gas-fired, warm-air furnaces totaled 236,599, an 8.6 percent increase compared with the same month a year ago. Oil-fired, warm-air furnaces for the same month totaled 7,163; an 8.2 percent increase compared with October 2008 totals. Residential gas water heater shipments experienced a 7.9 percent increase compared with shipments for the same month last year, as well.

The rest of October’s numbers, however, continue to evidence economic theories that preliminary recovery would be slow and that full recovery goals may require a significant amount of time to achieve. Combined U.S. factory shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps totaled 292,278, down 10.3 percent compared with the same month a year ago. For the year-to-date, combined shipments totaled 4,531,404, a 15.5 percent drop compared with the same period last year.

Heat pump shipments for October totaled 98,388, down 20.1 percent from the same month a year ago. For the year-to-date, heat pump shipments totaled 1,431,299, a 14.5 percent drop compared with the same period last year.

Construction, one of the prime indicators for the HVAC market, is still experiencing a slowdown. According to Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), October’s construction spending was, “virtually unchanged from the revised September total, but down 14 percent from a year earlier, at $911 billion seasonally adjusted annual rate.”

Private non-residential construction, public construction, and private residential construction all fell compared to October 2008, but some of their comparison numbers from September 2009 showed minor increases.

“The October figures were buoyed by one-month gains in new single-family, 1.9 percent; and improvements to existing single- and multifamily, 8.7 percent,” Simonson reported. “However, the estimate for improvements has been very unstable; the Census Bureau revised the September estimate down by $15 billion. Downward revisions to non-residential estimates reflected cancellations of some projects already underway.”

For more information, visit www.ahrinet.org and www.agc.org.

Publication date:12/21/2009