History of Air Conditioning and Heating

Although they have become every-day items, air-conditioning and heating were once considered luxuries. Let’s explore their fascinating history!

The History of Air-conditioning

Long ago, the ancient Egyptians understood the evaporating process and hung wet clothes on the doorways to cool the breeze blowing by them. The ancient Chinese invented a hand-cranked rotary fan.

In the 1840s, Dr. John Gorrie, an American physician, believed that cooling was the key to avoiding diseases and making patients more comfortable.  So, he designed a machine that made ice using a compressor. In 1902, Willis Carrier, an American engineer, invented the first air conditioner. He came up with the invention while he was working for a publishing company that needed a solution for wrinkling magazine pages caused by humidity. His invention blew air over cold coils to cool the air and lower humidity levels by 55 percent.

1904 marked the first time the American public was exposed to the concept of air-conditioning. In 1922, the first well-designed cooling system was put in theaters in Los Angeles. In 1930, the White House and numerous executive offices were equipped with air-conditioning. In 1931, H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman filed a patent for the first window unit air conditioner. By the 1970s, most new homes and commercial buildings had central air conditioning, which led to an increase in population in several hot-weather states like Arizona and Florida.

In 2015, 100 million U.S. homes have air-conditioning. Researchers are currently working on new designs to make units more energy-efficient and environmental-friendly.


The History of Heating

In 2500 BC, the Greeks used central heating through radiant heat. There was evidence of hypocausts, which were furnaces used to heat empty spaces under floors in homes, buildings and baths. After the fall of the Roman Empire, people started to insulate their homes with clay and straw, and build chimneys above their fireplaces.

It was not until the Industrial Revolution that coal and oil were used for heating homes.  In the early 1900s, Albert Marsh, known as the “father of the electrical heating industry”, came up with Nichrome, the filament wire to toast bread, marking the first appearance of electrical heating systems. In 1919, Alice Parker patented the first central heating system.

In the 1940s, Robert C. Webber built the first geothermal heat pump and in 2000, new technologies were developed to allow homeowners to regulate heat in their homes remotely using electronic devices. With these exciting developments of the last Century, who knows what the future holds for this industry.

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