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The Air Conditioning Revolution

Air Conditioning is something we take for granted in our workplaces, while shopping and in our hotel rooms on hot long summer holidays. We do not even think about it that much, it works away quietly in the background and we take it for granted like television or the internet. It is just there. Who hasn’t walked along a hot city street and dived into the coolness of the nearest department store. We have all experienced the shock horror upon arriving at a far-flung destination to find the A/C not working in our apartment or hotel room. Such is the desire for air conditioning; we stop at nothing until a muttering engineer with a bag of spanners arrives to fix the problem. Usually they give a sneer of disdain and flick the control switch without even opening their toolkit leaving us feeling a little foolish but forever indebted.

It may seem silly to some people why air conditioning is so vital, after all, we survived very well without it during heat waves and living in the tropics in the past. There were significant differences in the way we lived though, our houses were cool and brick built with high ceilings, window shutters, and shady porches. We adjusted our workloads around the hottest hours of the day. Shrubs and trees were planted strategically to shade the building. Even in temperate climates, hot summers are normal and most people have trouble sleeping and staying cool and resort to tactics like leaving the curtains closed all day or using window awnings once the thermometer goes up.

The invention of air-conditioning is considered one of the most significant engineering achievements of the twentieth century; it has completely changed the world and economy in ways you cannot imagine. In America, movie theatres were one of the first commercial enterprises to embrace air conditioning. When the weather was stiflingly hot, people flocked to the theatre to see films and escape from the unbearable heat of the day. This led to the big movie studios timing their release of their most lavish block busting films to the hot season. This has evolved into the modern summer blockbuster film releases we all know and love.

In climates where the weather is extremely hot it was normal for the whole month of August to be given as holiday as workers were too sluggish and non-productive in the hottest month of the year. Air conditioning has changed this and while this month long holiday still exists in parts of Europe, air conditioning has added an entire extra working month to commerce. Some historians blame air conditioning for the excessive federal bureaucracy in the USA as it allowed the lawmakers to stay in session for longer!

The world owes a huge debt to air-conditioning. It has revolutionised the fields of industry, medicine and science. It allows us to live and work in more comfort than at any other time in history. When you are feeling cool at work, your computer humming away nicely and shopping in climate controlled comfort remember that air conditioning made it possible.

Posted in: Latest News - On: 27th of January, 2012