HVAC Fun Facts
Hotter states like Texas, Florida and Nevada can thank air conditioning for their population booms. Without air conditioning, America's economic power would rest squarely in the northern states.
The United States Census Bureau and the American Housing Survey revealed that 72 million homes, or 65%, had central air conditioning and the other 22% have room or window units.
The amount of energy the United States uses each year to power air conditioning units is about the same amount of energy consumed by the entire continent of Africa.
In 1903, the New York Stock Exchange building in New York City was one of the first structures to use an air conditioning system.
The development of modern air conditioning has allowed for advances in medical technology, longer human life expectancy, reduction in the spread of diseases that were once very common and in warmer climates, dramatically increased employee productivity.
Water lines in a home without heat will typically take three days to freeze when they're sealed during freezing temperatures.
75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are actually turned off.
The Romans were the first civilization to use any type of warm-air heating system.
About 60% of U.S. homes are heated with gas fired forced air furnaces.
The first concept of air conditioning occurred around 500 years ago. People in Persia built wind towers to try to get the same effect as air conditioning. These towers were rigged with wind scoops to catch prevailing breezes. Internal vanes circulated that air throughout the buildings while forcing hot air out. This was especially handy considering the 100+ degree temperatures they encountered on a regular basis during summer.
In 180 AD China, artisan Ding Huan invented a 10-foot wide rotary fan made of seven connected wheels. A single operator could power the device and cool an entire hall of people simply by turning a crank.
In the movie 'Juno,' Juno’s father is an HVAC technician.
John Gorrie is considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning. He was a doctor in Florida, and in 1842 developed a machine to make ice. He used the ice to create cool air for his patients. He envisioned that his ice making device could be used to cool homes and other buildings. He was granted a patent in 1851. He lost his financial backing and died a pauper in 1855.
The modern concept of air conditioning was first conceived by Michael Faraday in 1820 when he discovered compressed and liquefied ammonia could chill air when it was allowed to evaporate.
Love radiant heating in your bathroom? It's not a new concept. The Romans had something very similar where the floors were laid out as a series of stone slabs with a heat source located below the floor.
The development of air conditioning was one of the biggest boosts to the movie industry, as movie theaters could get very uncomfortable in warm summer months.
Architecture shifted due to the invention and widespread use of air conditioning, and many features that buildings used to have (high ceilings, brick structures, breezeways, sleeping porches, etc.) are now being replaced for less pricey solutions. Current structures are built to use air conditioning, so they would be unbearable in the summer without artificial cooling features.
Ever since 1960, 60% of America's economic growth can be attributed to air conditioning in the South and West where it has become possible to live and work year-long in comfortable conditions.
Absorbtion and adsorbtion are two distinct HVAC-related terms that often get mixed up. Absorbtion is the internal process of taking up light, heat, or any other energy by molecules, while adsorbtion is the adherence of gases and liquids to each other on the surface. One letter makes a big difference.
Every industry has its own golden standard, and the HVAC world is no different. The Air Standard, as we call it, means that air must be 68 F (20 C) with a 36% relative humidity at 14.7 psia (pounds per square inch absolute).
We have made incredible societal advances in technology (manufacture of computers and data storage centers, large-scale production, delivery and storage of food) and medicine (pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing) advances as a society thanks to the use of air conditioning.
The very first steam-heating system installation was in England so the Governor of the Bank of England could grow grapes in the cool temperatures.
Packard was the first automobile manufacturing company to incorporate air conditioning in their cars in 1936.
HVAC has grown in sophistication over the years. Take for instance a hybrid heat system. It automatically adjusts to the most energy efficient way to cool or heat a building, combining a furnace with a heat pump and eliminating an air conditioner.
A thermistor is the resistor inside a thermostat that changes resistance as the temperature changes, prompting the thermostat to adjust accordingly.
Geothermal power drills into the earth's crust to extract natural heat coming from the core. The deepest geothermal well that has so far been constructed is the Kola Superdeep Borehole that goes seven miles below the earth's surface. It’s used for research.
A hygrometer is an instrument used to gauge indoor humidity--too dry and your skin feels dry, too humid and you'll start to smell mildew after a while.
In 1886, Schuyler Wheeler invented the electric fan, which was the most popular way for Americans to cool down until the end of WWII.
Air conditioner sales took off in the 1950s. By 1953, more than one million room air conditioner units had been sold. 35 years later, in 1998, more than 6.2 million air conditioners / heat pumps were shipped to homes and businesses.
A setback thermostat is a device that will automatically lower the temperature of an unoccupied space and raise it again as the occupant returns.
The principle that accounts for the movement of air through spaces, and particularly the rising of heat in buildings, is called the stack effect.
Propane, a gas popularized by propane salesman Hank Hill from the animated television series "King of the Hill" is used in HVAC as a fuel, solvent, and refrigerant.
Old radiators were built from cast iron, which is 450 pounds per square foot.
In 2013, Chicago's Merchandise Mart joined the list of buildings that received retrofittings to accelerate energy efficiency. Clocking in at 4.2 million square feet (two whole city blocks), that's a lot of new fixtures.
The very first glimmering of the modern HVAC industry came way back in 1758, when Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley discovered that evaporating alcohol and other similar substances cools down objects enough to bring water to freezing temperatures.
Geothermal power is efficient because it drills down deep enough to extract moderately warm thermal energy that's easy to cool and easy to heat, saving energy typically used to balance cold and hot temperatures.
In the 1987 animated film "The Brave Little Toaster", actor Phil Hartman voiced a character that was a talking air conditioner that is sick of being stuck in a wall.
Before air conditioning was common, many businesses and government offices took a summer vacation.
Did you ever wonder where the term "air conditioning" came from? In 1906, a North Carolina textile manufacturer came up with the phrase because the technology actually improved the quality and condition of the cloth being made in his plant.
Studies show that humans who grow accustomed to living in a cool, air conditioned environment lose their natural tolerance for heat.