HVAC DID YOU KNOW FUN FACTS

HVAC DID YOU KNOW FUN FACTS Image: Light bulb lit up on wood grained background

The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) industry is important to us all – residential, commercial, and industrial applications.  Thanks to the creative inventions and discoveries of men and women through the centuries, we can live and work in comfort.

Here are some HVAC fun facts about this essential skilled trade – and don’t forget to check back regularly for new interesting facts.  For career or hiring tips, take a look at our resource section.  Having a hard time finding experienced HVAC Professionals and need to build your team? Get in contact with us, and we will be happy to help!

  • 2,000 years ago, Romans were the first civilization to use any type of heating system, called “hypocaust.” It sent heat through the walls and floors of rich Roman homes and bath houses
  • All about that heat… If temperatures reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), work output falls by 45%
  • In the 2007 movie, ‘Juno,’ Juno’s dad was an HVAC technician
  • Herbert Hoover was the first president to have air conditioning in the oval office, which is in the west wing of the White House
  • The word “furnace” is believed to have come from the Greek word “fornax,” which means oven
  • Scientific studies have shown since the invention of A/C, we have become used to cooler environments and can no longer tolerate heat like we used to
  • Air conditioning alone in the USA uses the same amount of energy needed to power all of Africa
  • Closing a/c registers (vents) in unused portions of your household to save money and electricity is a myth – all you’re doing is adding pressure to the unit’s compressor
  • New York City building owners spend annually between $130 to $180 million on poorly installed air conditioners
  • If possible, unplug unused home electronics… 75% of the electricity used to power them is used while they are turned off
  • In 1914, Charles Gilbert Gates, son of John Warne Gtes, aka “Bet-A-Million” Gates, was the 1st to have an installed air conditioner in his Minneapolis mansion. Unfortunately, he died before he could enjoy it. The ac unit measured 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, 20 feet long
  • The US military spends over $20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan – US Air Force SGT Jeff Nevison
  • In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary of General Motors created chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants, “the world’s first non-flammable refrigerating fluids, greatly improving the safety of air conditioners.”
  • Alice H. Parker (1895-1920) was an American inventor who developed a furnace that supplied central heating and allowed the user to control the amount of heat in different areas of the building. The thermostat & forced air furnace used in our homes today can be attributed to Alice’s design and invention of the central heating furnace.
  • Ancient Egyptians created the first known indoor cooling systems by hanging wet mats over their doorways to lower temperatures in the home and add moisture to the dry air
  • Taking on the creativity of ancient Egyptians to cool their homes, Romans later used their aquaduct system to spread fresh water through indoor pipes
  • In 1758, Founding Father and Inventor, Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley, a Cambridge University academic, tested various liquids to understand their refrigerating effects.  Franklin discovered refrigerating effects of liquids are directly related to their rates of evaporation. Franklin and Hadley used a bellows and ether to cool a mercury thermometer until it measured below freezing temperatures
  • In 1820, British physicist and chemist Michael Faraday (1791 – 1867), experimented with refrigeration effects of gases and found by compressing and liquidizing ammonia and letting it evaporate, he could cool the air inside his laboratory
  • In 1842, American physician, scientist, and inventor, John Gorrie (1803 – 1855) developed a machine that compressed air and water to create an open cooling system keeping yellow fever patients cool
  • In 1851, Gorrie’s “cold air machine” was the first patented invention that aided mechanical refrigeration
  • Long before the invention of refrigerators, Greeks and Romans used ice and snow from the mountains to cool their food.  Wealthy families would dig pits and insulate with straw and wood to store and preserve the snow and ice for months
  • When AC first started, the output setting was measured in ‘Ice Power,’ the number of ice blocks needed to produce the same amount of cooling power
  • Known as the “Father of Air Conditioning,” American engineer, Willis Haviland Carrier (1876 – 1950), invented the first electrical air conditioner in 1902 to reduce humidity so that a printing company could get the ink to stick to the paper when it was too hot
  • Carrier founded his company, Carrier Corporation, in 1915
  • As a child, Willis Carrier struggled with fractions, so his mother used sliced apples to teach him the concept
  • Will Carrier’s genius idea that became the building blocks for modern air conditioning was from standing on a foggy Pittsburgh train platform.  Looking through the mist, he recognized he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog.  Carrier knew he could manufacture air with specific amounts of moisture in it to control humidity
  • Movie theaters were one of the first establishments to incorporate air conditioning.  ‘Summer blockbuster” became a popular term from Hollywood since movies released in summer were more successful because people went to the movies for entertainment and enjoy the cool air
  • We can thank the lack of AC for having summers off from school as it was difficult to teach or to concentrate in the heat.  Luckily, this practice continued.
  • It cost $30,000 to install the first air conditioner in the White House for President Hoover.  This was right after the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression
  • The first car to have air conditioning was made by Packard in the late 1930s
  • The invention of AC helped advance science and medical research for procedures and medication, that would not have been possible without a consistently cool environment
  • “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”  If it weren’t for AC, Las Vegas would be in a northeastern part of America
  • Before AC, the architectural design of homes were created to cool the air through high ceilings, breezeways, and other features
  • Only 10% of American homes had a/c in 1965 versus 93% in 2017
  • The average American household spends $1,856 on home energy bills, 12% of this amount is from the use of air conditioners.  States with hotter climates use 27% for a/c usage and those with colder climates, typically only account for 2% of their energy bill
  • American railways installed small air-conditioning units on their trains in the 1930s
  • In the late 1920s, the Milam Building in San Antonio, TX was the first fully air-conditioned office building
  • In 1998, Willis Carrier was named in Time magazine’s as one of the “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century”
  • In 1931, engineers H. H. Schultz and J.Q Sherman developed the individual room air conditioner that would sit on a window ledge. The large cooling unit cost up to $50,000, which is $600,000 in today’s money!
  • In 1881, naval engineers built a makeshift cooling machine that was able to lower the room temperature by 20 degrees by blowing air through a cloth soaked in melted ice water, for the comfort of President James Garfield who was assassinated. After two months and half a million pounds of ice, he died
  • In 1902, Alfred Wolff, an engineer from New Jersey, improved the design from textile mills and used it in commercial buildings, like the New York Stock Exchange
  • With the popularity of AC increasing in 1953, after WW II one million units were sold in the USA alone
  • In 1906, North Carolina textile mill engineer, Stuart Cramer (1868 – 1940), created a ventilating device that added water vapor to the air, making yarn spin easily.  Cramer was the first person to call this process ‘air conditioning’
  • American homeowners spend $11 billion annually for air conditioners and consume 5% of the country’s electricity to do so

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