Most people don’t ever give much thought to their air conditioning system. Our heating and cooling systems just keep working day after day, humming quietly in the background. As long as everything is working alright there’s really no reason to give your air conditioning and heating system another thought.
Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without air conditioning. Stop and try to imagine how people survived the brutal Central Texas summers without indoor air conditioning. The impact of heating and cooling systems on the nation’s development is difficult to fathom.
Will Carrier wasn’t even thinking about keeping people comfortable when he invented air conditioning in 1902. Carrier was just looking for a way to keep a Brooklyn publishing company from shutting down every time it got hot and humid outside. You see Will Carrier couldn’t sell paper to the publisher if the publisher couldn’t publish and the publisher couldn’t print on damp paper. Willis Carrier was just looking for a way to keep the paper dry the presses rolling and his income from paper sales from slumping.
Printers loved the “bonus” they got from the devices built for dehumidify the printing paper. Theaters loved the cooling contraptions even more. Even if people weren’t excited about seeing the latest film, movie goers would flock to enjoy the artificially cooled air during the stifling hot summer months. Without air conditioning there would only be winter blockbusters and the world may never have known of the summer blockbuster.
Many industries would slow down or grind to a halt during the hot summer months. Stifling working conditions killed productivity before climate controlled commercial buildings and factories. Summer productivity still lags today in countries without wide spread air conditioned spaces and the infrastructure needed to support it.
Not everyone agrees on the benefits of air conditioning on government. Americas’ founding fathers accomplished much in the hot summer months of 1776 without air conditioning. Today air conditioning in government buildings may be to blamed for the growth of government. At the same time, having and air conditioned Senate building and air conditioned House of Representatives may be responsible for todays elected officials accomplishing so little.
Before air conditioning, no one in their right mind would have built the kind of building we build today. No one today thinks about cross ventilation when constructing a building. Commercial buildings today rarely have window that open. Lower ceilings and the disappearance of transoms above every door are examples of how air conditioning has affected modern architecture.
Without air conditioning, America’s economic progress would have been slanted toward the northern states. Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and many other places would still never have experienced the population and economic explosions experienced since the 1960’s. Population densities would be different across the country and economic opportunity would still be limited by climate.
The energy required to power air conditioning is massive. Even as heating and cooling systems have become more energy efficient, their popularty has expanded even faster. The nation power grid and electrical production capacity has needed to expand to meet the growing popularity of air conditioning. Some air conditioning system today utilizing solar power to supplement their drain on the electrical grid.
It may be amusing to consider a world without air conditioning, but not many of us would want to live in that world. From actual, real, and practical experience, I can tell you that people will wait longer to see their doctor or their dentist than they will wait to see their Air Conditioning Repairman.