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Good Question: How Many Homes Have Air Conditioning?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you hadn't turned on your air conditioner yet this summer, there's a very good chance you did this past weekend. Over the past generation, air conditioning has become the standard for all new homes. In fact, 91% of homes in the Midwest have some kind of AC.

So, who doesn't still have air conditioning? Good Question.

In the South, 97 percent of homes have some cooling system, whether it's central air or window units. In the western United States, it's less common at 65 percent.

"Almost every home today is built with central air conditioning,' said Todd Ferrara, vice-president of Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, a company his father founded in 1930.

Air conditioning, as we know it today, was invented in the early 1900s, but wasn't really used for comfort in homes until the 1950s. It was in the White House and larger mansions in the 1950s. By the 1960s, window units were more popular. It wasn't until the 1970s that central air became more commonplace in homes.

"We changed, our homes changed, our needs changes, the cost of doing things changed," said Ferrara.

Of the Twin Cities metro homes that have air conditioning, the Census Bureau reports 74 percent of people use central air while 22 percent have window units. Houses are more likely than apartments to have air conditioning.

"I like the natural feel of fans," said one Minneapolis man who lives in an apartment building last renovated in the 1970s. "And yes, sometimes air conditioning is too cold."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 95 percent of the homes built in the 2000s have central air compared to 30 percent of homes built before 1940. Ferrara says homes with hot water heating and a radiator system are less likely to have central air.

Judy Shields, president-elect of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, says it's among the top 15 things buyers look for in a Minnesota home, but still ranks after a garage.

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