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In the early 20th century, a printing shop in New York was having difficulty with the unsteady humidity levels during summer. It was so bad that it caused the ink to smear and also affected paper quality.
To fix this issue, a young engineer called Willis Carrier was hired to fix the problem.
He devised a machine that could not only dehumidify the air but also maintain humidity levels.
Coincidentally, as a secondary effect, the machine also helped to cool the temperature in the room. And so, the first modern air conditioning system was invented.
But air conditioners aren’t just for keeping cool.
Since its inception, air conditioners have changed our lives, our history, and possibly even our future. Here are eight facts about the air conditioner that you probably didn’t know.
1. It helped elect a US President
According to his book “How We Got To Now”, Steven Johnson argued that air-conditioning indirectly helped Ronald Reagan in his 1980 presidential campaign.
When air-conditioners became more affordable for households, it sparked one of the greatest human migrations in US history.
People from the north, who were mostly older or retirees that were mainly conservative and Republican voters, migrated to the south.
Not only did the population in southern cities grow dramatically, but thanks to how the votes are counted in the US, it was also pivotal in Reagan’s victory against Jimmy Carter.
2. It was responsible for blockbuster movies
Before the aircon was invented, movie theatres were the last place people wanted to be during the hot summer.
But remember Willis Carrier, the inventor of the aircon? In 1925, he tested his aircon system in the Rivoli Theatre in New York.
It became such a hit, that cinema operators all over the country started installing air-conditioners in movie halls.
But air-conditioners were still expensive and bulky for most people. However, they could now flock to the only place that had free air conditioners: a movie theatre.
As soon as that happened, summer movies started getting popular and became the most profitable period for movie studios.
3. It made humans weaker
While the introduction of air-conditioning has actually made our lives better, research indicates that our dependency on them has made us more miserable at handling heat.
Because we spend more time indoors under the comfort of our air conditioners, our bodies have become more accustomed to the indoor temperature.
So, if you’re wondering why you’re sweating even more when you’re outdoors, now you know why.
4. It changed how buildings are designed
Before air conditioning, the architecture of homes and buildings were mostly designed to encourage natural ventilation and passive cooling.
These homes typically had high ceilings (so hot air could rise up), lots of verandas to add shading from the sun, and windows on perpendicular walls for cross-ventilation and better air circulation.
Some older homes even had inner courtyards to encourage natural air flow. An example of this can be seen in old Peranakan homes.
This natural method was not only more environmentally-friendly, but it also resulted in lower energy consumption.
But, thanks to air conditioning, it became easier to design high-rise “glass boxes” that are completely climate controlled.
Today, we have condominiums and commercial buildings that don’t allow their windows to be opened, and the comfort of its residents is completely dependent on air conditioning.
5. It is cold, but it won’t give you a cold
Contrary to popular belief, being in a cold room with the air conditioner at full blast won’t give you the flu; you catch a cold from a virus.
However, some people who have sensitive noses may get nosebleeds if the indoor air is too dry. It’s also possible to get infected if the indoor air quality is poor.
Cleaning your air conditioner regularly will help prevent virus, fungi, mould, and bacteria buildup in your filters.
Ensure that you and your loved ones are well protected by scheduling an appointment with technicians to deep clean your air conditioner unit.
6. It makes you work harder
Want to improve your employees’ work productivity? Invest in air conditioners.
According to one study, US government employees showed an increase of 24% in typing speed after they switched from a non-aircon office to an air-conditioned one.
Another research also showed a correlation between high temperature and work productivity; call centre employees saw a productivity drop of 2.2% per 1°C when the room temperature increased above 25°C.
7. It helps students score better
Air conditioners don’t just help with work productivity, they also make a difference when it comes to examination results.
Research done by Harvard University showed a connection between temperature and school performance. According to the study, students tend to have lower scores when the temperature was higher.
High temperature also impacted students’ learning abilities, and this was even more evident when the temperature rose above 32°C.
8. Without it, you wouldn’t have the Internet
Data centres contain rows of servers that store and manage data for websites and computer networks to function.
Without a good air conditioning system, these server rooms and data centres will overheat and break down, jeopardising businesses, telecommunications, banks, and security worldwide.
For example, one of Microsoft’s data centres overheated and malfunctioned in 2013. As a result, Hotmail, Outlook, and OneDrive cloud services were offline for 16 hours.
But using lots of air conditioners consumes a lot of energy, and it’s also detrimental to the environment.
To prevent energy wastage, companies like Google and Facebook use innovative cooling technologies that are more efficient and environment-friendly.
This article originally appeared on Recommend.my – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform. Recommend.my offers a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.