HVAC. Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning. Our homes come equipped with the power to heat and cool the air; all we have to do is flip a switch or adjust a lever, and within minutes, the ambient temperature shifts.
But do you know how the system works, where the terminology we use came from, or how our bodies have evolved in response to temperature-controlled buildings? Air Handlers does, and now you will, too.
1. In 180 AD, a Chinese artisan invented a 10-foot wide rotary fan with seven connected wheels; this device could cool an entire hall of people with the turn of a crank.
2. The first modern air conditioner — though it wasn’t called that just yet — was introduced in 1902, by Willis Carrier who worked for a publishing company, and needed a way to keep his paper from expanding and ink from running.
3. In 1906, a North Carolina textile manufacturer invented the phrase “air conditioning” because the technology actually improved the quality and condition of the cloth being made in his plant.
4. The same amount of energy each year is used to power air conditioners in the United States as to power the entire continent of Africa.
5. Studies have shown that the prevalence of air conditioners has lowered human tolerance to withstand heat.
6. Packard was the first automobile manufacturer to include air conditioning in their cars.
7. In the days before air conditioners were the norm, architects utilized specific design elements — high ceilings, porches, breezeways — intended to keep occupants cool.
8. The New York Stock Exchange building was one of the first to install an air conditioning system; this was done in 1903.
9. The advent of air conditioning had a profound impact on medicine and human life expectancy. With the simple ability to control air temperature, doctors were able to defeat malaria, decrease infant mortality, inhibit bacteria, and advance developments in surgery.
10. This may come as a surprise, but closing vents in unused rooms in your home is actually not a good idea. The act makes your HVAC unit work harder.
11. We have the term “summer blockbuster” because movie theaters were among early air conditioning adopters; people would flock to the movies for new releases, and to get some relief from the stifling summer heat.
12. Sixty percent of homes in the United States are heated with gas-fired, forced air furnaces.
13. A properly maintained HVAC system will last, on average, 10–15 years.
Did you learn something?