Record heat = double-digit rise in A/C installations

Local News

We saw record-breaking heat in july — and August is shaping up just the same way.

That means Hawaii residents are constantly trying to stay cool.

There have been dramatic increases in households with air conditioners — and it’s no wonder.

So far in August — record temperatures have been set across the state during 18 days of this month — records have been tied during another six days — and we have three more days of potential records to go.

Hawaiian Electric data shows a sharp rise in the percentage of households using air conditioning on Oahu and Hawaii island and in Maui County.

Back in 1970 — 90-degree temperatures just never happened, so very few homes had air conditioning.

Just in the last five years there have been double-digit increases in air-conditioner installations across all three counties.

Percentage of households with air conditioning:

County                                 1970                       2014                       2019

Honolulu                              14%                        50%                        70%

Maui                                      2%                          44%                        55%

Hawaii                                   2%                          19%                        33%

We spoke with Jimmy Wilkinson, owner of Jimmy’s AC Repair & Maintenance. He expanded his business from North Carolina to Hawaii in January.

“My customer base is growing faster than I expected, which is a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that we’re picking up customers, the bad thing is that I don’t have the manpower to satisfy those customers.”

With record heat in July and a record August in the making, air conditioning technicians are so busy, that every day is like Black Friday.

Wilkerson says, “We have a tablet that we have the schedule and he does all the scheduling and every time I look at it I’m like, 7, 8 o’clock nights. And I just got a boat and I ain’t seen the water in a couple weeks because I’m working Saturdays and so, yeah, it’s very busy.”

He runs a small shop and needs additional help to serve his customers.

“They’re used to you going out that day, and then you have to say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m booked, can I get there first thing tomorrow morning?’ It starts to rub the wrong way — and so I’m definitely always looking for help, good help.”

Meanwhile, there is disagreement about Climate Change — but the fact is — Hawaii’s temperatures are rising.

“Actually it’s kind of scary, for the summers to be hotter and hotter every year, it’s gotta tell you something that’s going on.”

Between June of last year and June of this year, Hawaiian Electric customers used 32-more kilowatt hours.

That is about the same as running an air conditioner for an extra hour each day.

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