A Brief History of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is something many of us take for granted. Keeping our environment cool is critical to the modern lifestyle our society has developed. Air conditioning has become such a necessity that energy use for air conditioning accounts for 48% of energy used in American homes.

Our story starts in the 1840s with Dr. John Gorrie, who was a physician in Florida. As a physician, Gorrie believed that keeping people cool was the key to dealing with malaria and similar diseases. Gorrie’s first attempt at air conditioning was not terribly successful. His goal was to cool hospital rooms. His method required ice to be shipped to the hospital from the northern United States. This proved to be too logistically challenging and expensive.

Mechanical cooling was a concept that was not experimented with again until several years later when Willis Carrier took an engineering job with the Buffalo Forge company two years after the turn-of-the-century. Carrier was working for a publishing company that was having a problem with humidity causing pages to wrinkle. It was Carrier’s job to find a way around the humidity problem. Carriers endeavor led to the invention of the first electric air conditioning unit.

As some of you may know, air conditioning has a very interesting historical connection to St. Louis. St. Louis was the site of the first use of air conditioning in a public building. Public air conditioning was debuted at the 1904 World’s Fair. The Missouri State Building was the first public building to be cooled using mechanical air conditioning. In the 1920s as technology improved movie theaters adopted the technology, and folks began to flock to the theaters to enjoy the comfort of air conditioning along with the entertainment of the movies.

In 1929 air conditioning had been around for a while, but the units were simply too big to be used in homes. Frigidaire would soon create technology that was small enough to allow air conditioning to make its way to the home. However, it did not become widely available for home use until 1947 when Henry Galson engineered a design that was smaller and less expensive than other solutions on the market. In 1947 over 40,000 of these smaller and less expensive units were sold. Fast forward to 1960, and most newly constructed homes have central air. This is also the point in time where window units become more affordable and therefore more prevalent.

Many of us probably flip on the AC without giving it a second thought. The next time you fire up your AC take a moment to think about how fortunate we are to be able to keep our environment cool and comfortable.

Rhymes Heating & Cooling is a family owned and operated business that has a dedicated group of team members in place to serve you, our customers, air condition and heating needs. Give us a call at 314-638-8181 or 636-391-1200 for any indoor comfort need.

Rhymes Heating and Cooling, a Ryan Family tradition trusted by St. Louis homeowners since 1926. We appreciate the opportunity to earn your business.

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