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10 Things You Almost Certainly Don’t Know about Air Conditioning

Modern air conditioner

Posted: June 30, 2017

The onset of summer is always a good time to consider some cool facts about one of our most taken-for-granted but relied upon technologies – air conditioning. Here are just 10 tidbits about the development of the one of most appreciated, influential inventions ever.

  1. An early air conditioning concept came about some 500 years ago in Persia, where engineers built wind towers with wind scoops to catch prevailing breezes in the desert heat. Internal vanes then circulated the cool air throughout buildings.
  2. In 1902, mechanical engineer Willis Carrier invented an “apparatus” that used cooling coils to cool the air and lower humidity in commercial buildings.
  3. The term “air conditioning” was first coined in 1906 by a North Carolina textile mill engineer, who created a device to add water vapor to the air, lowering humidity. The improved indoor air conditions made yarn easier to spin and less likely to break.
  4. Before home air conditioning was common, the film industry drew in crowds by marketing movie houses as refrigerated escapes from the oppressive summer heat.
  5. Electric fans (invented in the 1880s) were the most popular way to cool down before air conditioning took over the job after World War II.
  6. Architecture was greatly affected by the widespread use of air conditioning, as high ceilings, sleeping porches, and other more costly features were deemed no longer necessary. Modern high-rise buildings and skyscrapers would not be possible without the use of air conditioning.
  7. Since 1960, almost two-thirds of America’s economic growth can be attributed to development in the south and southwest of the country – development that would be almost impossible without year-round climate control.
  8. Many of the most incredible technological advances we enjoy – from computers and data storage centers to the manufacture, delivery and storage of food and medicine – would not be possible without the use of air conditioning.
  9. The amount of energy the United States uses each year to power air conditioning units is about the same amount of energy consumed by the entire continent of Africa.
  10. Our natural tolerance for heat has been lessened since air conditioning has become prevalent, according to scientific studies.