Here are some surprisingly cool facts about the innovation that keeps us comfortable during hot summer days and nights.
1. When AC systems were first introduced, the output settings were measured in “Ice Power” – in other words, how many blocks of ice it would take to produce the same amount of cooling power. Now we call them AC units (1).
2. The motivation for the first air conditioner wasn’t comfort. Willis Carrier invented a modern air conditioner in 1902 for a publishing company in New York that was experiencing problems with the ink control and paper expansion and contraction due to varying humidity levels (2).
3. Approximately 88 percent of new single-family homes constructed in America in 2011 included air conditioning. Compare that figure to how only 55 percent of Canadian households had air conditioning in 2013. Sounds like it really is naturally colder in Canada (3).
4. The first fully air-conditioned home was built in a mansion in Minneapolis in 1913 by Charles Gates. Sadly, he died before he could ever experience it (4).
5. Air conditioning systems helped coin the term “Summer Blockbuster.” One of the first businesses to utilize air conditioning technology back in the early part of the twentieth century were movie theaters. In the 1930’s, patrons flocked to theaters to enjoy the films – but also to enjoy the cool air during summer months. Marketers took advantage of this trend and saved their big hits for summertime releases. Thus, the term “Summer Blockbuster” became a part of our vocabulary (1).
6. Herbert Hoover was the first President to enjoy air conditioning. He spent $30,000 to install the system in the oval office, just after the start of the Great Depression (4).
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