A/C costs have risen by nearly 12% in the U.S. since last summer

A/C costs have risen by nearly 12% in the U.S. since last summer

Key takeaways:

  • Americans would pay up to $226 each month for A/C if temperatures keep rising.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 Americans are doubtful they can continue to afford A/C if electricity costs keep rising.
  • Interest in “alternative A/C units” and “cheap A/C costs” increased 112% across the United States from 2019 - 2022.

Staying alive (and well) is expensive these days. And while we can forgo certain items and activities to save money, air conditioning (A/C) costs may not be avoidable. After all, the global temperature is rising, and the heat brings intense health risks with it. With electricity costs increasing, what will Americans do to stay cool?

This study reflects the most up-to-date understandings and reactions to a potential A/C crisis. With data on weather, electricity costs, search volume and direct survey results from over 1,000 Americans, we've uncovered what maintaining a healthy and comfortable temperature looks like in the U.S. Keep reading to see how your state and generation are handling A/C costs.

An expensive need

We began our study by determining how much Americans paid for A/C each month by state. We also compared 2022 costs against 2018 to find the overall percentage increase and the states with the highest increases.

The cost of being cool According to our results, none of the 50 states were immune to rising A/C costs. On average, citizens paid anywhere from $50 to $212 per month for A/C in 2022. That said, some states bore more intense A/C cost increases than others.

Ironically, it wasn't the historically hottest states that saw the most significant increases in A/C costs this year. California has fallen victim to increasingly more wildfires in recent years and is taking measures to prevent energy blackouts, which is likely why residents paid 83% more for A/C in 2022 than in 2018. The second largest price increase was in Maine (ironically the fourth coldest state in the U.S), with a 47% price hike in 2022.

States with the highest A/C bills in 2022 Staying cool in Hawaii has been extremely expensive this year. It's one of the hottest states (second only to Florida), but its monthly A/C costs were the highest by a landslide. While Hawaiians spent a monthly average of $212 on A/C, Floridians spent only $67.

However, everyone in the U.S. has faced higher A/C costs regardless of a state's average temperature. The whole country experienced a nearly 12% increase since last summer. Even northern states with low annual temperatures, like Massachusetts and Maine, spent upwards of $110 each summer month to cool their homes.

Where to draw the line?

Not all Americans can afford these increased home-cooling costs, posing some dangerous health risks in certain locations. This part of the study reveals Americans' confidence in being able to afford A/C and tells us how much they might be willing to spend.

Sentiments on increased A/C bills Gen X respondents were the ones least able to afford A/C costs, with more than 1 in 3 expressing doubt. This generation is already in serious financial trouble, shouldering more credit card debt than any other. By comparison, only 11% of Gen Z were concerned about their ability to afford to maintain safe temperatures at home.

With temperatures rising, Americans are willing to pay an average of $226 each month to stay cool, although this number was much higher among Democrats ($254) compared to Republicans ($189). Perhaps these results reflect the leftward political leanings in Hawaii and California, where residents are accustomed to higher A/C prices and living expenses in general.

Electricity bills on the rise

We next asked U.S. residents how their electricity bills have changed within the last year. They also shared how they've stayed cool without breaking the bank.

Keeping up with electricity bills No matter what cost-saving strategies you use, electricity costs are becoming costlier; only 6% said they spent less on electricity this year than last year. Instead, 67% said they've spent more. Perhaps out of greater necessity, Gen X may have put the most effort into saving on electric costs — theirs increased less than those of any other generation.

As for cost-saving strategies, more than half of respondents relied on fans instead of A/C, and 42% closed their window curtains and blinds to block the sun's heat. That said, younger generations may have been more technologically savvy in their approach to beating the heat. Gen Z was the most likely to utilize cooling curtains, a new technology that uses solar energy to cool the air coming into the home. However, they were also the most likely to spend more on electricity this year than last.

Searching for ways to stay cool

Sometimes staying cool simply requires ingenuity. This last piece of research, based on Google search history, shows which states were most interested in alternative solutions and hacks to keep their home temperatures down.

A/C Google search trends Surprisingly, the states with the highest A/C costs weren't the ones most often searching the web for alternatives. Instead, Utah, Nevada and Washington saw the biggest percentage increase in search interest related to "alternative A/C units" and "affordable air conditioning." This could be due to temperature increases and supply issues: Utah just experienced one of its hottest summers ever compounded by a parts shortage that put repairs out of reach for many whose A/C units stopped working. No wonder residents have searched for alternative ways to beat the heat 199% more often over the past few years.

Considering population density, Washington was the state most interested in alternatives, followed by Oregon and New York — none of which were among the states where A/C was most expensive. Perhaps the eco-friendly behaviors common in these states were more so what led them to search for alternative approaches rather than rising energy costs. They weren't alone, however; all states showed at least some increase in searches for alternative A/C options.

Keeping your cool

America is heating up, and residents are taking action. Most employed fans, while others covered windows, turned off the A/C or even wore less clothing. Younger respondents looked to new technologies like cooling curtains to help lower costs without sacrificing comfort. States like Washington and Oregon heavily invested in researching new A/C alternatives. Despite these efforts, all states and most residents saw their electricity costs increase. As we face rising temperatures, this type of research will become more important than ever, as will maintaining and protecting existing A/C units for optimal home cooling and comfort.


For this campaign, we pulled data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to estimate the cost of running A/C across the U.S. We also used Google Adwords to determine the search volume for terms related to "A/C units" per month over the past five years (2018 to 2022).

We also surveyed 1,005 Americans to explore their sentiments on A/C costs. Among them, 49% were men, and 51% were women. Each generation was represented by 25% of respondents. For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question. The margin of error is plus or minus 3%, with a 95% confidence interval.

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Fair use statement

Staying cool during temperature increases and amidst rising electricity costs is no easy feat, but sharing information about it can be helpful. If you'd like to share this research, you're more than welcome to; just be sure your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page.

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