Home Sweet Home

On June 1, the Census Bureau released its detailed data on last year’s newly-constructed single and multi-family houses. Including on their gas versus electric heat breakdown.

In 2020, fifty-five percent of new single-family houses in the U.S. had gas heat and forty-five percent had electric heat. Each year, electric heat is increasing its market share. In 2019, forty-three percent had electric heat. In 2018, thirty-nine percent had electric heat.

Electric heat’s market share was at its lowest in 1998. That year, only twenty-six percent of new single-family houses had electric heat as compared with seventy percent that had gas heat.

In the nineteen seventies and eighties, electric heat was becoming more prevalent. Its market share reached fifty-two percent in 1978 and was as high as forty-nine percent in 1985. Given the current trend, these numbers might be repeated and exceeded in the next few years.

The current trend is mainly due to new single-family houses in the south, the region that accounts for fifty-five percent of all such new homes nationwide. In the south, as much as sixty-eight percent of all these new homes were electric, more than twice the percentage of new gas-heated homes.

In contrast to new single-family houses, most multi-family houses have been electric-heated in recent years. Electricity heats two-thirds of the new multi-family units brought to the market in 2020 versus one-third that are gas-heated. It wasn’t always like this, however. Back in 2003, a slight majority of the new multi-family units were gas-heated.

But Americans overwhelmingly live in single-family houses. In 2020, nine hundred and twelve thousand new housing units were single-family and just three hundred and seventy-five thousand were multi-family.

Heat pump heating was installed in thirty-nine percent of last year’s new single-family houses, whereas fifty-nine percent were built with forced air heating. This matters a lot since almost all heat pump systems use electricity (eighty-eight percent) and almost all forced air systems use gas (eighty-three percent).

Again, new houses in the south led the way on electric heating. Of all the new single family houses in the U.S. with heat pump systems, eighty-four percent were in the south.