William D. Bryan, Ph.D. & Joy Ward
In honor of Black History Month, our February map pays homage to David Crosthwait, a Black engineer and inventor who designed heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. One of his greatest contributions was developing heating systems for Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall in New York. Today he is remembered for holding 39 patents that addressed a range of heating and ventilation problems. In 1971, he became the first Black person named a fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers.
This month’s map visualizes the type of heating fuel households use at the county level across the United States for occupied housing units. It was created using data from the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Nationwide, most people rely on utility gas or electricity to heat their homes. Forty-seven percent of households use utility gas to fuel their heating equipment, while 39% use electricity. The remaining fuel types, bottled tank and fuel oil, are common in the Midwest and Northeast, respectively. In the South, electricity is most common with 68% of households using it as a source of heat, while just a quarter use utility gas.
One reason why the South has a high percentage of electricity use is because our region has a lower heating load and electric utilities have led successful heat pump installation programs. Despite this, urban centers such as Atlanta, Birmingham, Little Rock, Louisville, and Memphis predominately use utility gas. While this map suggests that the South is heavily electric, there are still millions of households in the Southeast that are eligible for the electric appliance tax credits and rebates available through the Inflation Reduction Act. These incentives can reduce the cost of energy efficient appliances like electric heat pumps, which are well-suited to the needs of Southern homes and dramatically reduce household energy consumption.
On March 15 at 2 p.m., hear from regional experts about how we can leverage federal funding to help low-income renters access energy efficient technology for their homes. Register for How to Make Clean Energy Upgrades More Accessible to Renters today.