Some modern conveniences are so pervasive it’s easy to take them for granted. From email to microwave ovens, they’re just… there. The same can be said of air conditioning, which we don’t tend to think about unless it stops working. As the weather warms up, let’s mark the change of seasons with some air conditioning facts you didn’t know.
- Remember how much you enjoyed summer breaks from school? The practice first became widespread because most schools were too hot in the summer. The practice stuck even when the use of air conditioning became more widespread.
- Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning in 1902 for a Brooklyn publishing house, but his was not the first air conditioner; that’s widely credited to Dr. John Gorrie, a Floridian physician who invented an air conditioning system in 1842. Unfortunately, he died before his invention could be designed and manufactured for public use.
- The New York Stock Exchange was among the first air conditioned buildings (its system was installed in 1903).
- Minneapolis millionaire Charles Gilbert Gates was the first homeowner whose home was designed for central air. He passed in 1913, a year before the home was completed.
- Early air conditioners cost $350, which sounds like a bargain until you remember that’s about $3,500 adjusted for inflation.
- Movie theaters were another early adopter, with air conditioned movie theaters giving rise to the “summer blockbuster” movie.
- Air conditioning didn’t come to the White House until the Hoover administration.
- The first cars to feature factory-installed air conditioning were the 1940 Packard Senior 160 and 180. The option wasn’t popular because the air conditioner — not much smaller than a modern window unit — took up most of the car’s trunk space. It wasn’t until the 1950s that smaller units became available and the technology came into widespread use.
- Air conditioning has changed architecture, largely eliminating sleeping porches, summer kitchens, breezeways, and other features designed to keep buildings comfortable in summer heat.
- Air conditioning also changed the geography and economy of the United States, since it led to a population boom in states like Nevada, Texas, Florida, and Arizona that were otherwise inhospitable due to high heat.
- Many modern medications rely on air conditioning as a key part of their manufacture.
- Over the last half century, the number of people who die of heat-related causes has dropped more than 80 percent thanks to air conditioning.
Bonus Facts and Tips
The United States uses enough power every year on air conditioning alone to power the entire continent of Africa. Much of that power is wasted due to poor insulation, improper sizing and air conditioner installation, as well as heat given off by appliances. Keep power consumption and heat lower by unplugging appliances that aren’t in use, and by running your washer, dryer, and dishwasher in the cooler evening hours. Also maintain your system with regular HVAC tune-ups, since a clean unit operates more efficiently — and replace if you’ve got an older, less-efficient system. For more tips on getting the most out of your system, repairs, and so much more, take advantage of the HVAC service offered by Ace Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning!