If you already have a working air conditioner unit in North County this week, count yourself lucky.
As expected in the middle of a heat wave — temperatures are expected to be in excess of 100 degrees all week — sales of AC units and fans are on the rise at local hardware stores, and some have been running low on stock due to the high demand.
Paso Robles Walmart assistant store manager Jerardo Medina said the store was “almost all sold out of ACs,” as of Wednesday, except for some of the more expensive units. Fans are also selling quickly, he said.
Medina predicted that since the springtime — the location has sold thousands of cooling units and fans — and he was unsure of when they would be receiving another shipment. He said shipments from the Walmart warehouse have been getting progressively smaller as the summer wears on and supplies dwindle.
At Miners Ace Hardware in Atascadero, store manager David Elmore said they have sold their entire stock of window AC units and now only have some portable options available.
“They’re moving fast now, definitely,” he said. “For June and the first part of July, it was a bit lower because that was in the low 90s, but since the heat wave has hit, we’ve sold pretty much everything we have.”
Window units cost between $129 and $399, he said, while portable units range from $349 up to about $500.
Elmore said AC sales are up roughly 30 percent this year. Since July 1, the store has sold about 14 or 15 units, he said.
He’s also had people stopping by looking to buy an air conditioner, saying that other places are sold out. But there’s good news for those who’ve had a hard time finding one: Elmore said he expects another shipment either Wednesday night or Thursday.
Air conditioner repairs are also on the rise.
Candace Birmingham, the service dispatcher for Paso Robles Heating and Air, said the business is booked out through Aug. 6 for service calls. Technicians are working their maximum shifts, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., to address the hundreds of calls pouring in, she said.
Those workers can get through between four to eight repairs per day, depending on the extent of what needs to be fixed.
Even so, on Wednesday, she had a waiting list 15 people deep of locals looking to get their units repaired.
“This year seems crazy,” Birmingham said. “We’ve been booked at least two weeks out since May.”
In the meantime, Birmingham said the company is in the market for more service technicians to help address demand.
“We’ve needed more people for two years,” she said. “It’s hard to find an actual, already-qualified service technician. They’re a dying breed.”