Air conditioning is an invention that has changed the world. Imagine life if we could control the weather, making it cooler in a heatwave, or warmer during the winter. Thanks to air con, we can – at least indoors!
Climate change has spurred inventors to come up with some ambitious ideas for controlling the weather as the climate gets warmer, and although we can’t feasibly influence the weather as such, we can control our indoor environment.
Air con early years
While humans have been using fire to provide heat for thousands of years, cooling down when the weather is hot has been more of a challenge. The first solution came in the 19th century, when American entrepreneur Frederic Tudor, of Boston, came up with an innovative idea.
He began transporting huge blocks of ice from New England in winter to warmer regions, insulating them in sawdust for the journey. Although his idea wasn’t wholly successful, as some of the ice invariably melted en route, it still earned him a fortune.
Air conditioning as we now know it was invented in 1902.
Hospitals must be properly ventilated at a comfortable temperature to provide patients with the appropriate conditions for recovery. The temperature should also be conducive with allowing doctors and other medical and ancillary staff to work efficiently, 365 days a day, 24 hours a day, whatever the weather. Temperature and humidity control have become indispensable parts of the hospitals’ energy management too.
Cinemas and theatres
Historically, theatres (and later cinemas) would shut down due to summer temperatures. Without windows and with people packed tightly together, the heat would be horrific. In 1880, Madison Square Theatre, in New York, tried installing an 8ft fan to blow cool air towards the audience – created by a block of ice behind ducts. Alas, the air was damp and smelled unpleasant.
Air con revolutionised cinemas. It became a selling point and was responsible for the “summer blockbuster”. A big film would be released to lure customers in, with the promise of escaping from the heatwave to watch a great movie in cool surroundings.
Air conditioning is crucial in factories, where industrial machinery can cause the atmosphere to become incredibly hot and uncomfortable for the workforce. There are stringent regulations on working environments, including the temperature, the air quality and energy saving.
An efficient air conditioning system is crucial for the factory environment, as it maintains safe working conditions. For factories that produce heat-sensitive items, such as food or medication, working in a cool temperature is even more important.
Air conditioning in retirement homes is important to ensure the residents’ comfort. It also enables the staff to work in an appropriate temperature, even in the event of a summer heatwave. While a lot of care is taken to ensure the elderly keep warm in winter, an equal amount of importance should be attached to keeping them cool in summer. It is also vital to keep the temperature cool in an environment where many medications are dispensed.
While a lot of attention is paid to the seating and desk layout in an office environment, it’s also important to make sure the staff are working in a pleasant temperature. Working in a hot office can make employees feel sleepy and affect productivity. If there are a lot of computers and other electrical equipment in the room, this can make the temperature feel even warmer, particularly in the middle of summer, when it’s hot outside. In some offices, a dress code means staff may be even warmer, so an efficient air con system becomes even more important.
The global annual temperature is reported to have increased by an average of 0.07C per decade since 1880 and at a rate of 0.17C every ten years since 1970. In line with global warming and the steady increase in temperature, air conditioning has been introduced into people’s homes, which is beneficial during the type of heatwaves we’ve been experiencing recently.
Air conditioning has had a positive effect on people’s quality of life, both at home and in the workplace. It helps us to live more comfortably, no matter how high the temperature. Klima-Therm’s specialist air conditioning services will ensure you can enjoy a comfortable climate all year round, in almost every walk of life.
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