5 Fascinating Facts About Air Conditioning That You Probably Didn't Know

Summer is here, and with it comes a full season of brutal heat. Most people find themselves either spending all day at the pool, or retreating inside for that glorious cool down that air conditioning offers. While most people know that air conditioning has not always been around, many do not know the fascinating history that brought about the air conditioning that is prominent today. A/C has come a long way to get to the point of just clicking on your thermostat. Here are a few interesting facts about air conditioning that you probably never heard of. Some of them may surprise you.

That's a "Ton" of Air Conditioning

Before modern air conditioning was invented, people had to find another way to stay cool. The popular method for doing this was bringing in huge blocks of ice to vent cold air throughout a building. They would measure how much ice they used by the ton. Once air conditioning systems were invented, people still measured how much A/C was being used in terms of tons of ice.

Nowadays, a ton of air conditioning is known as about 12,000 BTUs of cooling power per hour. To put that in perspective, home central heating and A/C system will typically deliver between 2 and 5 tons.

Wall Street Did It Before It Was "Cool"

The air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier in 1902 to be used in his publishing company. He needed a way to keep the ink and paper cool and the humidity down so that his ink would not expand. However, the first major building to install a refrigeration cooling system was the New York Stock Exchange in 1903.

A steam operated cooling system that was invented by Alfred Wolff could handle up to 300 tons and was effective at cooling the entire NYSE. The system was so ahead of its time that it lasted for 20 years, even after A/C technology began to evolve.

The Invention of the Summer Blockbuster

Have you ever wondered where the term "summer blockbuster" originated from? Well, it all has to do with air conditioning. The movies were not always a popular place to be in the summer. A room full of people combined with the hot, sticky humidity outside made the movie-goer's experience no fun at all. That was until 1925 when Willis Carrier convinced Paramount Pictures to install his air conditioning system in the highly anticipated Rivoli Theater in New York.

Up until that point, the production companies simply saw the summer months as a financial dud. The experiment in the Rivoli was a massive success, and people began flocking from everywhere to catch a movie in the brisk air conditioning. He went on to install his system in over 300 theaters across the country, which would eventually lead to the summer season becoming the best time of year for a movie. People wanted to escape the dreadful heat and see some entertainment, as well.

The U.S. Uses More Air Conditioning Than the Rest of the World Combined

Since its inception, air conditioning has been a necessity for the American population. Between 1993 and 2005 alone, the amount of energy used for cooling down residential homes doubled! Then by 2010, that number grew an extra 20%, and continues to grow as the summers get hotter and hotter.

To put that in perspective, the United States uses more electricity for air conditioning alone than the entire continent of Africa uses for everything.

Air Conditioning Boosted Life Expectancy

Air conditioning was a godsend for the medical industry. The advent of HVAC services units made it easier for things like storage/transport of food, blood storage, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Some drugs could not be processed unless the temperature was cool. Without a cool environment, hospitals could not guarantee that these items were safe to give to patients.

Also, cooler hospitals helped to prevent an increase in bacteria spreading. Some bacteria thrives in warmer climates, and air conditioning kept certain diseases, like malaria, at bay.

Air conditioning has been a huge part of this country for over a century now. There is no better relief than walking into your door after a hot day and feeling that cool air on your face. Without the advent of this technology, who knows what life would be like today.