The history of air conditioning is longer than you might think. Summer has been rough on human beings for tens of thousands of years. Ben Franklin, who invented bifocals, a better wood stove, swim fins, and much, much more, was not the first to fail at inventing a method to “sweat less.” Suffering through an English summer in 1758, Franklin famously ran experiments to test the evaporation of chemicals to freeze surfaces over which, in theory, “the wind would blow briskly.” Though Franklin was mercurial in his search for better ways of doing things, he never got the mercury to go down in any buildings.
We are lucky to be living in a time when most homes have AC. Otherwise, we might all be tempted to use Franklin’s go-to approach which was the “air bath.” The man on the hundred dollar bill was not self-conscious about opening his windows and traipsing about his home without any clothes on. He was utilizing sweat, nature’s original AC system. When your body starts to sweat, it is promoting heat loss through evaporation. You may not like the drip, drip, drip, but sweat is keeping you cool!
Early Forms Of AC
Cave dwellers understood that it’s much cooler underground and inside the earth. Early humans even built burrows to beat the heat! The Egyptians took things to the next level by hanging wet reeds in their windows. This cooled sweltering Nile river valley breezes wafting through homes and public buildings. The richest Romans used the cool water in aqueducts piped under their homes to chill out and bought expensive snow that merchants imported and stored underground.
The Chinese invented handheld fans when they realized that moving air creates a cooling effect on the skin. This was the first portable AC unit! The towers of traditional Middle Eastern buildings utilized towers that were designed to catch and circulate cool breezes. This drew cool air up from underground channels and pushed warm air out. Victorians built homes with high ceilings, giving the heat room to move upward. They also installed large recessed windows and covered porches to increase coolness and airflow.
Willis Carrier was looking for a way to dry ink during the summer for a publishing house when he built the first air conditioner in the summer of 1902. When he stared at the mist of a Pittsburgh train platform, he saw that if he could manufacture airflow with specific amounts of moisture, he could “condition” the air. He didn’t just allow the ink to dry in books, he wrote his name in the history books. His system was initially employed for industrial use, but theater-owners soon understood they could bring in more patrons if it was icy-cold inside all summer long! Carrier understood he was on to something big and developed a network of international dealers and that is still one of the big names in the industry.
More Than Comfort
At PECO Heating and Cooling, we understand why people have worked so hard for thousands of year to keep themselves cool in the summer. It isn’t all about discomfort either. Heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat rash are physiological reactions to stifling temperatures. That’s why we are available 24/7 to make sure your AC system is running right. Our Planned Maintenance Agreement ensures that your heating and cooling systems are in excellent working condition every single day. Twice each year, we’ll come to your house and perform maintenance that will give you the reliability you can count on. We also provide a wide range of home maintenance and repairs, including home inspection repairs, plumbing, and electrical services. To stay cool without resorting to Ben Franklin’s “air bath,” call 864-639-2424 or visit us online to schedule an appointment today.