When it comes to air conditioning, many see it as a necessity rather than a luxury. Still, there are countless people — both renters and homeowners — who are forced to go without it, even during the most sweltering days of summer. But one city, in particular, is making efforts to equip as many new apartments as possible with air conditioning: Seattle.
Many would assume that Seattle has hot enough summers to make air conditioning a standard, but the fact is, Seattle has one of the coolest summers in the whole country. On top of that, air conditioners use about 5% of all electricity produced in the U.S. as it is. Even with the construction of new buildings, air conditioning had yet to be seen as a necessity.
Now, realtors are in the midst of what many in the industry are referring to as an “amenities arms race.” In fact, 25% of apartments built during this decade in the Greater Seattle region are equipped with central air conditioning, as opposed to a mere 6% in decades past. And landlords are quickly using the appeal of A/C as a way to stand out among thousands of apartment ads.
Megan Murphy, a senior manager at Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate, thinks the trend is here to stay.
“I don’t think it’s a fad, I think it’s probably going to be a new normal, because it is getting warmer,” Murphy told The Seattle Times. “Now it’s becoming more competitive, as well — it’s not just about being the new kid on the block, it’s about being the new kid on the block with all the extras.”
Murphy also noted that there has been an increased number of people moving to Seattle from locations with notably warmer summers such as New York, California, Chicago, and Texas, which means that more and more tenants are demanding air conditioning.
In 2016, HVAC technicians made, on average, over $48,000 a year, and Murphy said the average cost of installing air conditioning in a building that’s still under construction is between $5,000 and $6,000. While these costs seem reasonable, they’re certainly factored into rent costs as well.
Ultimately, the importance of air conditioning cannot be underestimated as global temperatures continue to rise. Over 65% of server IT equipment failures are directly attributed to inadequate, poorly maintained or failed air conditioning, but that’s nothing compared to the perpetually sweaty and generally uncomfortable existence that comes with not having A/C.