Single-unit detached houses expanded from 60,383,409 in 1990 to 69,865,957 in 2000, an increase of 15.7%.
WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Census Bureau has started to release portions of the data collected from its 2000 Census. Its “Profile of Selected Housing Characteristics: 2000” is now available, and a comparison with the previous 1990 Census data shows where the market has evolved and where it hasn’t.

In 1990, the total number of housing units was 102,263,678. By 2000, this had grown to 115,904,641 units, an increase of about 13%. Single unit detached structures increased from 60,383,409 in 1990 to 69,865,957 in 2000, a jump of 15.7%.

The number of structures with two or more units increased over the decade in every category except those with 10 to 19 units, which saw a 5% decline. Buildings with 20 or more units rose

from 8,262,881 in 1990 up to 10,008,058 in 2000, a very significant expansion of 21%.

When looking at the years structures were built, on a decade-by-decade basis, as expected, the number of older buildings has diminished as new buildings have gone up. Despite the housing boom that occurred in the 1990s, the 1970s remain the decade that saw the most homes built. Thus, the HVACR replacement market for these 20- to 30-year-old homes is large and quite ripe for contractors.

The median number of rooms in housing units remains basically the same. It was 5.2 in 1990 and 5.3 in 2000. There has been a slight increase in larger homes.

The total number of housing units in 2000 increased about 13% over 1990.


The home heating fuel used has increased for the categories:

  • Utility gas;

  • Electricity; and

  • Bottled, tank, or LP gas.

    Utility gas was applied in 46,850,923 housing units in 1990. It was in 54,027,880 units in 2000, a 15.3% increase. Electricity was used to heat 23,696,987 homes in 1990, and rose to 32,010,401 in 2000, a huge 35% upsurge. Bottled, tank, or LP gas increased from 5,243,462 units in 1990 to 6,880,185 in 2000, a 31% jump.

    The following heating fuels declined:

  • Fuel oil, kerosene, etc.;

  • Wood;

  • Coal or coke; and

  • Solar energy.

    Fuel oil, kerosene, etc. went from 11,243,727 housing units in 1990 down to 9,457,850 in 2000, a 15.9% drop. Wood decreased from 3,609,323 in 1990 to 1,769,781 in 2000, representing a 51% decline. Coal or coke fell from 358,965 in 1990 to 142,876 in 2000, an even steeper 60.2% slide. Solar energy, which was used in 54,536 homes in 1990, was reduced to 47,069 in 2000, a shrinkage of 13.7%.

    The category of “other” fuel increased from 345,580 to 412,553, a 19.4% rise.


    As relative percentages of use in the home heating market, utility gas was essentially the same, while electricity made a significant gain. Utility gas had a total market share of 51% in 1990; it was at 51.2% in 2000. On the other hand, electricity had 25.8% of the market in 1990, but increased to 30.3% in 2000.

    Bottled, tank, or LP gas stepped up from 5.7% in 1990 to 6.5% in 2000.

    The most widely used of the fuels that declined — fuel oil, kerosene, etc. — dropped from 12.2% in 1990 to 9% in 2000.

    The median number of rooms in housing units remains basically the same.


    Looking at home value, the price of homes has increased substantially and there are significantly more high-end homes.

    In 1990, the median price of a house was $78,300. In 2000, the median was $119,600, a leap of 52.7%. Because of the increase in more expensive homes, new categories had to be created to accommodate them. For the 1990 Census, the top housing category was $500,000 or more, which included 682,544 units. The 2000 Census has the new category $500,000 to $999,999, which now has 1,308,116 homes. The additional category of $1,000,000 or more is comprised of 313,759 homes.

    Naturally, for those homes with a mortgage, higher cost means a bigger mortgage. In 1990, median monthly owner costs for homes with a mortgage was $736. In 2000, median monthly owner costs had risen to $1,088, a 47.8% increase.

    An examination of monthly owner costs as a percentage of household income, however, indicates that only a small percentage of homeowners are spending significantly more to own a home. According to the 1990 Census, 70.5% of Americans were spending less than 25% of their income on housing. The 2000 Census shows 67.9% of homeowners spending less than 25% of household income to own a home.

    Publication date: 07/15/2002