According to the Energy Information Administration, 48% of energy consumption in American homes is a result of heating and cooling. With so many people using A/C (especially in the summer and those living in warm climates) how many really know the history behind this commonly used machine. Below is a brief introduction to the early days of air conditioning.
In 1840, Dr. John Gorrie designed a machine that created ice using a compressor powered by a horse, water, wind-driven sails or steam. He was granted a patent for this in 1851. This laid the foundation for modern air conditioning. Sackett & Wilhelms Lithography and Printing Company in Brooklyn, New York was encountering many problems with their printing process, caused by the humidity in the building. Willis Carrier while working at the Buffalo Forge Company designed the plans for a machine that could reduce humidity in a building in 1902. From there he realized this cooling system could be beneficial to other industries and Carrier Engineering Corporation was formed.
In 1922, Willis Carrier installed the first cooling system for the Metropolitan Theater in Los Angeles. This led to other theater installations and an expanded use of cooling systems throughout the country. Frigidaire and General Electric then began designing and creating new models of cooling systems. In 1947, air conditioners become more affordable to the general public, allowing A/C to spread out across the country.
It’s hard to imagine a time before air conditioning. It’s even crazier to think that less than 100 years ago A/C started going mainstream. To learn more about the complete history of air conditioning, visit https://www.energy.gov/articles/history-air-conditioning.