According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, factories shipped over 3 million central air conditioners and heat pumps during the first five months of 2002, an increase of 6% over the same period last year. At this rate, the industry should eclipse last year's total units sold of almost 6.3 million, including a record 1.4 million heat pumps.

The upturn in shipments comes as a report by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies projects strong growth in immigrant and minority households, resulting in 22 million more homeowners in the next 20 years.