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The Air Conditioning Background:
The History of the HVAC

AC Background and History

Air conditioning, you have it in your car, in your home, your apartment, your grocery store, your workplace, your favorite restaurant, and just about everywhere else that you go.

In fact, a significant chunk of the energy that we use in the United States is for either heating or cooling ventilation. The Energy Information Administration performed a study and found that nearly 48% of our energy consumption is from heating and cooling our buildings.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Hard-working scientists and curious inventors worked for years to develop the technology that we all enjoy so much today.

Today, we’re examining the air conditioning background to get a better idea of where this technology came from and where it might be going.

Progress After a Lull

Following Dr. John Gorrie’s death, there was a bit of a lull in the advancement of air conditioning technology.

However, a man named Willis Carrier would change all of that while working for the Buffalo Forge Company in 1902. While trying to solve a problem that was causing magazines to wrinkle at a client’s company, Carrier designed a new system that aimed to control humidity.

Using cooling coils, Willis Carrier developed technology that could either humidify or dehumidify air based on whether he heated or cooled the water. After refining his technology, Carrier was able to design an automatic control system that regulated humidity and temperature in textile mills.

After realizing the value of this technology, Willis Carrier broke off from the Buffalo Forge Company with six other engineers to create his own business called the Carrier Engineering Corporation.

Cool Air Comes to the Public

In 1904, organizers managed to bring a cooling system (mechanical refrigeration) to the World’s Fair in St. Louis. It was enough to cool down a 1,000-seat auditorium and several other rooms in the Missouri State Building.

The American people had never experienced this kind of comfort from a climate-controlled environment.

However, the big breakthrough came in the 1920’s. As people came to the movie theaters to watch Hollywood on the big screen, companies realized that their buildings felt stuffy and hot.

The basic cooling system that they designed modified existing heating systems that resulted in hot, muggy temperatures in the top area of the theaters and frigid temperatures at the lower levels. It was so cold at times that moviegoers had to wrap their feet in newspapers to stay warm.

The film companies had a desperate problem! The Carrier Engineering Corporation provided the solution!

The Carrier Engineering Corporation installed a cooling system in the Metropolitan Theater in Los Angeles in 1922 that worked just right. Later on, in 1922, the Rivoli Theater in New York City introduced their new system to the public. The innovate system proved more efficient both in energy use and in cost.

This innovation quickly spread across the country and made large-scale air conditioning more accessible.

Bringing It Home

Although up to this point, there had been several advancements in air conditioning technology, it remained too expensive for use in the average American home. Both Frigidaire and General Electric attempted to build units for use in the home, but both systems were too large, heavy, and expensive.

Then engineer Henry Galson entered the scene!

Galson designed a compact, inexpensive model of a window air conditioner unit and negotiated a deal with several manufacturers. He sold about 43,000 of these units in 1943 alone. For the first time, the average American homeowner could afford to cool their homes.

By the 1960’s, air conditioning was no longer a novelty. Most new homes were outfitted with the technology, especially in southern states like Florida. Today, air conditioning in homes is the norm. According to the Energy Information Administration, nearly 87% of homes in the United States have air conditioning.

What the Future Holds

The future of air conditioning is increased efficiency. Ever since the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the government and private manufacturers have been working towards creating air conditioning units that are as green and efficient as possible.

Due to this crisis, the Energy Department set up the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. This program established a national standard for efficiency in heating and cooling units to avoid the confusion over varied state laws.

This program increases public efficiency and affordability by educating users on ways to consume less energy using their HVAC systems.

However, that isn’t all.

The Energy Department also recently set up the Emerging Technologies program to encourage research and innovation in the field.

At the moment, the program developing the future of air conditioning technology: non-vapor compression technology. This technology is significantly better for the environment and much more sustainable. In fact, non-vapor compression technology could reduce energy consumption by as much as 50%.

With a more informed air conditioning background, users can consciously decrease their carbon footprint while also saving themselves money by using technology that reduces the amount of energy that they use.

If you have any HVAC related questions, please feel free to contact the professionals here at Beaufort Air Conditioning. We would love to hear from you.

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