NEW YORK, NY — The air conditioning industry reached a milestone August 9 with production of the 130 millionth central air conditioner and a celebration at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to salute the technology that has helped transform the way people live, work, and play.

Executives whose companies are listed on the NYSE rang The Closing Bell™ to mark production of the unit that rolled anonymously off an assembly line at one of the factories located across the United States. The companies are members of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) in Arlington, VA, whose board chairman, Daniel W. Holmes Jr., joined in the ceremony.

Once a luxury for the wealthy, central air conditioning is now included in 85% of new single-family homes. Historically low interest rates this year have buoyed the housing market with new starts through June up 2% over last year. Shipments from U.S. manufacturers of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment are expected to top $32 billion this year.

Replacements command an increasing share of shipments, providing steady business to the industry. There are 60-70 million central air conditioners and heat pumps plus millions of commercial air conditioning and refrigeration units in service today, and the industry is poised to produce tens of millions of replacement units in coming years.

Air conditioned homes in the U.S. increased from a small percentage 50 years ago to 83% of all housing units today of which 54% have central systems, according to ARI. The association noted that shipments of central air conditioners and heat pumps in 2002 are running 5% ahead of last year’s 6.3 million total.

As of August 9, 2002, ARI has counted 130 million units produced for residential and light commercial use since the association was founded in 1953 to establish product standards and voluntary performance certification programs. In addition, millions more units of larger capacity are being used in commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.

“Air conditioning and refrigeration transformed America, increasing productivity and health thanks to climate-controlled offices, malls, factories, and homes, and refrigerated food that is shipped fresh and safe from anywhere in the world,” said Holmes.

“This industry has improved the quality of life for billions of people worldwide,” said Holmes, “and it will pursue in the future better ways to provide more comfort and improved health from more efficient equipment, operating at lower cost, in harmony with the environment.”

According to ARI, the efficiency of electric central air conditioners used in homes has increased by nearly 50% over the past 25 years, and chillers used for comfort cooling in commercial buildings are more than 40% more efficient over the same period, reducing operating costs for owners and cutting emissions from power plants.

“From a novelty for moviegoers at theaters in the 1920s to modern-day high-tech manufacturers’ clean rooms, glass skyscrapers, and malls, air conditioning was a defining technology that dramatically improved the way people live, work, and play,” said Holmes. “It’s amazing how much we take it for granted, yet we cannot live without it.”

ARI member companies and parent companies listed on the NYSE include: A.O. Smith Electrical Products Company; Airgas Inc.; American Standard Companies Inc.; Dover Corporation; E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co.; Emerson Electric Company; Fedders Corporation; General Electric Company; Honeywell International Inc.; Ingersoll-Rand Company; Lennox International Inc.; Manitowoc Company Inc.; Mestek Incorporated; Mueller Industries; Nortek Incorporated; Parker-Hannifin Corporation; Rockwell Automation Power Systems; Siemens Incorporated; SPX Robinair; Texas Instruments; United Technologies Corporation; Wolverine Tube Inc.; and York International Corporation.

Publication date: 08/12/2002