July 6, 2021
Have you ever heard of “AC Appreciation Day”? It’s July 3rd of every year. We’d like to take the whole month of July to celebrate and tell the story of the history of AC …
Before modern air conditioning systems were invented, ancient people still had many helpful tricks for staying cool. For example, they could take a bath in the local river or fan themselves with palm leaves. In ancient Egypt, people would stuff their clothes with dried flowers or herbs to keep cool. Also, in the palace of Pharaoh Amenemhet I and Queen Hatshepsut, they had a particular room that would be filled with saltwater and large urns containing ice during the day, and also a stone slab flooring that had cool water flowing underneath.
As you can imagine, before modern air conditioning, it was mostly the rulers and the wealthiest people who could stay cool. For example, hand fans have existed in China for over 3,000 years, but it was the servants fanning the rich! So how did ordinary people stay cool? Well, if your home had too much of a draft, you could always close the shutters and windows at night. It was common for people in ancient times to sleep on rooftops at night because that was cooler than being inside your house! (We don’t recommend this strategy if your AC goes out.)
The history of modern air conditioning starts way back in 1748 when Benjamin Franklin wrote about how iced water would cool down a room on a hot day. This is because the cold would absorb the heat from the surrounding air, and that is the idea that air conditioning is founded on: you can remove heat from your home’s air by blowing it across a freezing cooling coil!
However, it would be many, many years from then until the invention of an air conditioning system that people would actually use. For example, in 1851, John Gorrie created a machine that condenses water by mixing ice with salt and creating a vacuum inside an insulated box. The problem was that no one wanted to buy his invention! His machine was too expensive for people because they weren’t millionaires. However, Gorrie’s artificial ice maker did help save the lives of people suffering from yellow fever in the hospital!
But it wasn’t until 1902 that Willis Carrier (yes, “Carrier” as in “Carrier HVAC systems”) came up with his idea for an air conditioner. But he didn’t invent the air conditioner to cool the air. He did it because he worked at a publishing company in New York and noticed that the paper was too humid, and the ink would smear. So, his air conditioner was created to dehumidify the air, not cool it! Yet, he created a system that used air to cool the coils. His invention was revolutionary because it FINALLY made cooling possible for people who didn’t have access to ice!
Air conditioning has helped change our lives in so many ways over time. We want you all to appreciate AC on AC Appreciation Day and during the rest of the summer! Of course, if yours isn’t working, you probably don’t appreciate that … and need our technicians’ help! Give us a call or schedule your next appointment online!