For many people, imagining a life without air conditioning is almost impossible. Many modern homeowners rely on it every day. This is particularly true during the summer, especially in Southern California in where temperatures are scorching hot and humidity is high. Needless to say, however, there was a time when air conditioning did not exist and people had to resort to other means to stay comfortable. Here is a brief history of the air conditioner:
• Before Air Conditioners
As hard as it may be to fathom, there was a time when people had to deal with hot and cold weather without air conditioners or furnaces. This is not to say that they didn’t have any methods to help them regulate temperature. When it was hot, for example, people would simply let the body’s natural cooling method—sweating—keep them cool. They would also use fans, which facilitate evaporation and can help people feel up to six degrees cooler. There is also evidence that, in Rome, wealthier citizens would run cold water through their walls to make the heat more bearable.
Philadelphia 1776- Back, when the founders of the country were trying to create the Declaration of Independence, there was no air conditioners to repair. One of their biggest complaints was that it was hard to concentrate due to the heat and humidity. They were forced to compromise so they wouldn’t have to sweat it out, and they wore wigs and heavy clothing!
The Earliest air conditioner
The modern air conditioner was conceived in 1902, when Willis Carrier invented a machine that ran air through water-cooled coils. His first units actually were installed at the company where he was working, The Buffalo Forge company. Due to his invention, the four color printing press was actually created. While the design would become the template for residential air conditioners of today, the design was not initially meant to boost indoor comfort. The recognized ‘father of air conditioning’ is Carrier, but the term ‘air conditioning’ actually originated with textile engineer, Stuart H. Cramer. Cramer used the phrase ‘air conditioning’ in a 1906 patent claim filed for a device that added water vapor to the air in textile plants – to condition the yarn. Rather, it was originally meant to be a device that would control humidity. Around 20 years later, in 1925, Carrier released another device called a Centrifugal Chiller, which revolutionized modern air conditioning.
• Modern Units
While modern air conditioners still rely on the basic design pioneered by Carrier in the early 20th century, there has been much advancement since then. Air conditioning units are more efficient than ever. The spread of air conditioners has changed American life as we know it, allowing people to stay comfortable, avoid heatstroke, and work productively through the day.