Is Houston still the most air conditioned city in the world? Doubtful.
I’ve hear this said a number of times before that Houston was the most air conditioned city in the world. Unfortunately I can neither confirm nor deny this fact with full confidence. I find it easy to believe that this was probably the case during the era of the Astrodome the air conditioned 8th wonder of the world and probably for a good time thereafter. Are we still the biggest? I’m not confident but if we are, I can say with confidence that we won’t be the biggest for long. Despite our Texas largesse we are outgunned in the long term. I’ve estimated before based on my experience in the industry that the Air Conditioning industry in Houston Texas alone eclipses $1,000,000,000 in total revenues. Yes, 1 billion dollars all in each year. Let me know if you have a more accurate estimate.
Why wouldn’t Houston be the most Air Conditioned City in the world?
Perhaps Houston is the ‘most air conditioned’ city in the world based on total revenues or cubic feet of conditioned space. Still I find this hard to believe when you consider there are emerging asian cities with populations that rival New York that we’ve never even heard of. Consider Chongqing in China. Ever heard of it? Thought not. It has a population of 29 million people! POW! Yes TWENTY-NINE MILLION. Its urbanized area alone has ~7 million people. Impressive considering Houston has ~5 million people in the entire metro area. Thats not all. Its hot there, very hot. Texas hot. If they’ve not already out done us in air conditioning they are certainly on their way. Sure living quarters tend to be smaller, systems tend to be mini-splits as opposed to central air, and buying power is significantly lower. Still several factors are working in favor of our friends in China. They have an emerging middle class who has a taste for luxury goods. Despite what you might think A/C is a luxury not a right.
Ok so what is the moral of the story? Well for one the HVAC industry has a lot of opportunity in both Texas and Asia. Contractors in our own south texas city should be humbled by the fact that our industry and community has driven an economy where the demand for comfortable conditioned air has been met and will continue to be met. Cities should consider putting more resources toward the education of young engineers and technicians as the raising demand must be met with a solid workforce. The same hope in growth applies in other cities. As for the war of who is the ‘biggest’ or ‘most’ air conditioned. Does it really matter? Not really. Except for maybe our ego. A badge to ware that nobody else really cares about.
Houston Chron has a great related article – ‘Air Conditioned Capital of the world