Okay, the official first day of winter is is still almost a week away. But here in Bullhead City, Arizona, and the Colorado River Valley, winter seems to be the shortest season of the year.
Maintenance of your HVAC system, furnace or air conditioner is key to longevity as well as worry free climate control, summer of winter. That is one of the specialties of AIRzona Comfort Solutions. In fact we make it so worry free no thought is given to the modern marvel that is air conditioning, or how that almost magical contraption transformed the world.
As with many inventions the passing of time blurs the reasons for its initial development. Providing relief in the sweltering months of summer was the byproduct of an invention designed to resolve a printing company issue.
Willis Carrier (does that name sound familiar) was a young experimental engineer in the dawning years of the 20th century. Two summers of record breaking heat had caused tremendous problems, and a resultant loss of profits at Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographic and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, New York. The heat and high humidity was swelling pages which resulted in blurry prints, and damaging paper.
Tasked with finding a solution, Carrier devised a primitive but innovative system for the lowering of humidity in the area around the printers and paper storage. Using an industrial fan air was blown over steam coils filled with cold water. This caused the excess humidity to condense on the coils and produce cooled air.
The byproduct, of course, was a cooled work space. Even though there were still years of experimentation and development to make the concept commercially viable or practical, the rest as they say is history.
Carrier did not invent air conditioning. Nor was he the first to develop air conditioning systems. He was, however, the first person to make it commercial feasible. In the process he forever changed the world, and even made it possible to live comfortably in the Colorado River Valley all year long.
Initially, however, Carrier’s air conditioning ventures received a “cool” response from hotels, home owners, and office complexes. It was manufacturers of products such as pasta, leather, paint, film, and fabrics that embraced the idea.
Overcoming reluctance and concerns about the residential benefits of air condition began with Nickelodeons, pioneering motion picture theaters. By 1919 theaters had begun embracing air conditioning to bolster ticket sales during the months of summer, traditionally a very slow period.
And during the depths of the Great Depression, it was air conditioning that kept many theaters from closing their doors. Near destitute people flocked to cooled theaters in record numbers to escape the heat, even if for just a few hours.
Today, especially in the United States, air conditioning in homes, businesses, factories and theaters is ubiquitous. It is just another modern miracle that is taken for granted. It is something that was once viewed as luxury but today is seen as a necessity, especially here in the desert southwest.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America