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Heat Wave Without Air Conditioning? Unimaginable.

Happy birthday air conditioning, you're 110 this year!

 

Today temperatures are expected to climb into the high 90s, the National Weather Service has issued an air quality alert for the southern parts of Connecticut and some bigger cities are opening cooling centers.

Now imagine all this without air conditioning. That was the state of things during another heat wave in 1902, a blast of scorching air along the East Coast that led to the invention of air conditioning by a low-level engineer working for a furnace company in New York City.

He figured out what many other well-known great thinkers hadn't for centuries; that if you removed humidity from the air it would cool things down.

Not only did that breakthrough allow millions to enjoy the cool environs inside office buildings and public spaces, but it provided engineers the dust-free conditions that were required for the invention and widespread use of the first computers.

So while the summertime triple H conditions return today - heat, haze and humidity - and you retreat into whatever air conditioned interior you can find, give pause and a cool thanks to Willis Carrier, the engineer who invented air conditioning.

John Hall July 19, 2012 at 09:36 PM
While air conditioning certainly is needed in large buildings, homes can stay cool by means of shade trees and fans, and especially attic exhaust fans. An attic exhaust fan works wonders in the evening, when the outside air has gotten cooler than the indoor air. The fan blows the hot air out above and draws cooler air in below. Mechanical air conditioning, while a great gift, is expensive to run and it's also responsible for outdoor summer air pollution as the dirty power plants are turned on to supply all the electricity on those hot summer days. Some of the dirtiest and most inefficient power plants are turned on ONLY for those few really hot summer days, but we pay to have them on standby all year long. Let's not worship air conditioning.

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