Air conditioning is a standard feature in most homes in the U.S. these days. It’s such an everyday luxury that we don’t even think about how it’s impacted our lives. The invention of the cooling system has advanced over the years to improve our comfort and health greatly. Let’s look at some air conditioning history to see how far we’ve come.

Air Conditioning History: Then and Now

Homes were hot before residential air conditioning came along. They certainly weren’t the comfortable, cool sanctuary they are today in the dog days of summer. Most families slept outside to catch a cool breeze since the closed-up homes were sweltering. They opened windows as much as possible to provide some ventilation. However, sweating was inevitable, along with body odor. (Yikes! Aren’t you glad we have air conditioners?)

Let’s take a look at the progression of how people kept cool in the summer.

It all started with hand fans.

Hand fans were popular throughout history because people had limited options to keep cool. In the early 1900s, electric fans first appeared in U.S. homes. A much-welcomed invention.

The first air conditioner invented in 1902.

Willis Carrier invented the modern air conditioner in 1902. Although, the term “air conditioner” wasn’t coined until 1906 by Stuart Cramer, a textile mill engineer. In 1914, the first home installed an air conditioner. The unit was 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 20 feet long!

Can you imagine that in every home today?

The system was quite costly too. Early air conditioners cost anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in that time, which is equivalent to $120,000 to $500,000 in today’s dollars. Because of the size and price tag, only wealthy people with large homes could install the cooling system.

Window air units become popular in the 1950s.

Air conditioning became quite the status symbol post-WWII. Window air units were a hot commodity, with over one million units sold in 1953.

AC Units arrive in most American homes.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that central air conditioning systems made their way into most American homes. The standard cooling system of the day used Freon-12 (also known as R-12) as a coolant.

Cooling systems have come a long way.

Residential and commercial air conditioning has come a long way in the past 100 years. Early systems were loud, inefficient, and expensive to operate. Today, advances in technology have paved the way for developing cooling technology that is efficient and convenient. These advances have allowed local A/C service and repair companies to provide customers with seemingly endless equipment choices.

Central heating and air have become more environmentally friendly as well. The outdated cooling system coolant R-22 has been phased out for an eco-friendlier refrigerant.

The EPA released new refrigerant regulations phasing out the HCFC and R-22 refrigerants by 2020.

Air Conditioning is more widely affordable.

Central HVAC systems have become more affordable over the years, leading to their widespread use in American homes. Today, more than eighty percent of homes in the U.S. have an air conditioning system.

Air conditioners save lives.

Did you know that air conditioning didn’t just change our comfort levels? It also saves lives from dangerous outdoor temperatures. Air conditioning played a significant role in lowering heat-related deaths. Between 1960 and 2004, the number of heat-related deaths decreased by 80 percent compared to the time between 1900 and 1959.

How’s that for some exciting air conditioning history! Now, you can wow all your friends when heating and cooling trivia comes up at your next game night.

Get Help

If you’re unsure about the type of refrigerant your HVAC unit uses, would like professional advice for the best solution for an older unit, or ready to schedule new heating and cooling installation, call Advantage Air & Service at (479) 361-8647 or get in touch with us here.