On a hot day, air conditioning is like…the air we breathe! We are used to taking it seriously because the unforgiving Australian summer heat is nothing to joke about. But there are some fun facts about this technology that will make you look at it a little different next time you press the ON button.
The invention and development of air conditioning is considered to be one of the most remarkable engineering achievements of the 20th century, as it has impacted the worldwide economy in so many ways. According to the writer Salvatore Basile – and his book “Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything” – the story of how humankind gradually attempted to fight against the torture of hot weather is actually a quite fascinating yet amusing one. Here are some of the most interesting facts about AC.
1. It’s not all about the comfort
The first air conditioner – designed by Willis Carrier in 1902 who worked at a New York publishing company – was created to control the humidity in the building and help the ink dry faster. He called his invention the “Apparatus for Treating Air” and received a grant for it in 1906.
2. Ice, ice power
When AC systems were first introduced, the output settings were measured in “Ice Power”. For a better understanding, it measured how many blocks of ice it would take to produce the same amount of cooling power. Nowadays, we simply call them ‘AC units”.
3. “Summer Blockbusters” – movie theatres, the coolest places in town
Have you ever thought about going to the theatre to escape the summer heat? In the early part of the 20th century, movie theaters were amongst the first businesses to introduce AC, so people would flock to enjoy both a good movie and the cool air during summer months. Marketers took advantage of this trend and saved their big releases for summer, hence the ever-popular “summer blockbuster”.
4. Beat the heat up North
According to a census back in 2011, approximately 88% of new single-family homes built in America in 2011 included air conditioning. Compare that figure to how only 55% of Canadian households had AC in 2013. So you can keep that in mind for your next vacation!
5. 88 years of car comfort
The first car with optional Air Conditioning was introduced back in 1939 by the automobile manufacturer Packard. However, it wasn’t very popular due to its high cost and the fact that the evaporator and blower system took up half the trunk space. Imagine the evolution!
6. Population booms in Australia
Queensland wouldn’t be the same if it wasn’t for AC. In fact, hotter states like QLD, NT and WA owe the most part of both social and economic growth to the introduction of air conditioning, which has made living and working there bearable as well as comfortable.
7. Stay cool, stay healthy
Because of the cool, temperature-controlled environments that air conditioning provides, scientists have been able to create important medications and doctors have been able to cure various diseases. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics can benefit from clean, filtered air indoors. Thank you, AC for creating the right conditions!
8. Take a break, take a summer break
Before air conditioning was created, schools and industries would slow down or take complete summer breaks as it was too hot to learn or work during the summer months. Even after air conditioning was popularized, schools still maintained the summer vacation as part of the annual curriculum plan.
9. Build efficiently
Have you ever wondered why homes used to be designed with high ceilings, breezeways, sleeping porches or landscaping to create shadows? Back then, without AC technology, architects had to find efficient solutions for the inhabitants to stay cool. Nowadays, you’d think AC systems are included in the house design.
10. So hot out there!
Did you know that the longest heatwave in the world was at Marble Bar in Western Australia from the 31st of October 1923 to the 7th of April 1924? 160 days of temperatures of over 37.8 degrees Celsius! The highest temperature recorded during that heatwave was on the 18th of January 1924, 47.5 degrees. Now imagine this without air conditioning…already sweltering?
Still thinking air conditioning is boring? We hope we gave you (at least) 10 reasons to change your perspective.
Until next time, stay positive and welcome summer with a large smile on your face!
Your friend and AC expert,