It’s easy to take air conditioning for granted. But when it stops working, we instantly take notice. The invention of air conditioning revolutionized everything—from education and hospitals to homes and businesses. Now, we all just expect perfect weather in our indoor spaces.
For Air Conditioning Appreciation Days (July 3 – August 15), let’s take a moment to learn about the history of air conditioning and how it has changed the world.
The History of Air Conditioning
It’s almost impossible to imagine life without air conditioning, but it’s actually a fairly recent development. Before the widespread use of air conditioning in the ’60s and ’70s, people would suffer (and smell) a lot worse. You might also find whole families sleeping outside on the fire escape.
Modern air conditioning wasn’t invented until 1902, when an electrical engineer named Willis Carrier was hired by the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company to control the heat and humidity in the printing room.
The heat and humidity would alter the size of the paper as it went through the printing machine, messing up the ink and colors of the paper. The company needed to control the indoor heat and humidity to produce a consistent and uniform product.
In 1906, Carrier got a patent for his air conditioning invention. (He went on to create Carrier Engineering Corporation, a business that is worth over $13 billion today.)
It took another 60 years for air conditioners to become affordable for regular homeowners. Before 1960, air conditioners were enormous, expensive, and somewhat dangerous. In the early days of AC, only large buildings, such as hospitals and movie theaters were able to use them. Most people did not have direct access to air conditioning until the ’60s or ’70s.
Air Conditioning Has Revolutionized Our World
The process of creating a more comfortable interior environment has had a huge impact on nearly every facet of life, including artwork, architecture, computer servers, plants and animals.
The National Academy of Engineering has placed Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in the top 10 greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century.
Consider all the different types of indoor environments that use air conditioning:
- Commercial buildings, such as offices, malls, shopping centers, and restaurants
- High-rise residential buildings
- Low-rise residential buildings
- Industrial and warehouse spaces
- Spacecraft, aircraft, boats, trains, and land vehicles that transport passengers or fresh goods
- Institutional buildings, including government buildings, hospitals, and schools
- Sports stadiums
Air conditioning also allows building to be taller since high altitudes make it difficult to provide natural ventilation.
Now used in about 90% of all single-family homes in the U.S., the adoption of residential air conditioning units has improved comfort, health, productivity, and much more! It has also saved countless lives.
Air Conditioning Saves Lives
According to a recent study, heat-related deaths in the US declined by 75% over the course of the 20th century—“almost the entire decline occurred after 1960.” The widespread use of residential air conditioning since the ’60s pretty much explains the entire decline in heat-related fatalities.
While critics have complained of the detrimental impact air conditioning has had on the environment, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
This summer, let’s take a moment to appreciate all that air conditioning and refrigeration equipment has provided, along with the everyday heroes who help maintain, repair, and install these wonderful machines.
We take great pride in maintaining, repairing, and installing air conditioning equipment for our Birmingham area customers. If you have any questions about air conditioning, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at OnTime Service.