The amount of electricity consumed for air conditioning has steadily increased over the last 20 years amid population growth and larger home sizes, according to the Energy Information Administration.
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That increase has been most pronounced in the South, where electricity usage tied to air conditioning has risen 43% since 1993. It now accounts for 21% of all electricity consumption in the region.
The South has outpaced the rest of the nation, which has seen overall AC-related electricity usage climb 39% to account for just 14% of all consumption.
The EIA noted that in addition to a general increase in the use of air conditioning, the spread of central air and larger homes are contributing to the spike in electricity consumption.
The South, with 8.6 million new units, added the most housing units between 1993 and 2009. In 1993, just 65% of households in the region used central air, while 27% used room air conditioning. By 2009, 82% had central air and only 15% had window or wall units.
Central air systems generally consume more energy since they cool more of the area within a home. Moreover, the average home in the U.S. is now 5% larger than it was in 1993. In the South, home sizes are up 9%.