For many people, air conditioning history extends only as far back as the most recent heat wave. However, attempts to make daily life more pleasant in summer months actually stretch back as far as ancient Rome, when wealthy citizens circulated water through the marble walls of villas to cool the premises.
In more recent times, the first electric cooling device to become a must-have in residences was the classic ceiling fan. Once electrification spread across the U.S. in the early 20th century, homeowners by the millions took advantage of the cooling sensation provided by the slowly-rotating, graceful fans overhead. Despite their popularity—and widespread use even today—fans only produce the perception of coolness and enhanced comfort. They don’t actually lower the temperature inside the house.
A Pleasant Side-Effect
Indoor cooling in the way we think of it now began in 1902 when an engineer named Willis Carrier took an assignment to improve the indoor environment of a commercial printing factory in Brooklyn, New York. Interestingly, his primary objective was not cooling the plant but reducing humidity to make the printing process more efficient. The technology Carrier designed extracted humidity from indoor air by passing it through a coil circulating frigid refrigerant that caused water vapor to condense out of the airflow. As a pleasant side-effect, this process also cooled the air inside the plant substantially. That, by the way, is the reason Carrier called his invention an air conditioner—not simply an air cooler. Effectively conditioning the air for optimum comfort meant both reducing humidity and lowering air temperature.
Cooling Catches On
By the 1930s many public buildings including movie theaters, hotels and office buildings were air conditioned. By the mid-1960s, still only 10 percent of houses had A/C. However, mass production and advances in technology dramatically lowered the cost of new units over the following decades. By 2007, over 85 percent of houses in the U.S. enjoyed the cool comfort of Willis Carrier’s invention.
For all your home and business heating and air needs, contact the professionals at Jackson & Sons.
Jackson & Sons, Inc.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Eastern North Carolina (including Wayne, Johnston, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt and Duplin Counties) about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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