5 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of HVAC

You can find heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems throughout American buildings. This includes schools, data centers, homes, and other places. You don’t always notice them unless the setting is too cold or the system breaks. You’ve probably never given much thought to the history of HVAC systems.

Whether you know about HVAC systems or not, Americans spend vast sums on them. For example, the Energy Information Administration reported in 2015 that 48% of energy consumption was related to heating and cooling costs.

Though HVAC systems are everywhere, how much do you know about their history? Here are five fun things that you probably didn’t know about the history of HVAC.

1. The Concept of HVAC Isn’t a Modern Invention

The concept of HVAC dates back to when people lived in caves. Living underground was colder in summer and protected people from the elements in winter. The idea of human control over the environment stuck with us as we evolved to create basic structures.

Ancient Egyptians hung wet reeds in their windows to cool their homes (the basis for water-cooled A/C). Other cultures had similar ideas. For example:

  • Greek aqueducts are the basis for modern pipe systems.
  • Roman houses used ducts to move hot or cold air around under floors and through walls.
  • Chinese systems used bamboo pipes. These transported natural gas for heat in about 500 BCE.

From there, the history of HVAC evolved in different ways around the globe.

2. The First Modern A/C Unit Dates from the 1800s

In the 1800s, Dr. John Gorri patented an idea for cooling cities in the summer seasons. In 1902, Willis Carrier designed the first modern A/C unit. This was installed in a Brooklyn printing plant to help with the ink.

The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair featured a building refrigeration system. The idea soon spread, and public buildings quickly began incorporating HVAC systems. Similar residential systems weren’t far behind!

3. The First Popular Home HVAC Was a Window Unit

Window units became popular as the idea of residential HVAC systems started to spread. H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman developed the first window-unit air conditioner in 1931. Unfortunately, the cost of a unit back then was quite expensive, running between $10-$50K. Whew.

However, over the years, the cost dropped. By the 1960s, these helpful cooling units were becoming much more common in American homes. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that central air was invented, so window units continued to reign supreme and in many ways still do today.

4. HVAC Has Played an Important Role in Modern Medicine

Temperature control is vital to modern medicine. HVAC has helped to maintain the optimal environment in inpatient care facilities for many decades. It still serves to protect against temperature extremes that can damage medications.

This protection is beneficial in specific settings like:

  • In lab facilities for inventing, testing, and creating medicines
  • For shipment and storage of medications
  • In hospitals and other places where medication is used and dispensed

Without HVAC, scientists couldn’t have invented many of the most common modern medicines. Likewise, if heating and cooling systems weren’t around, many diseases might not be curable today.

5. HVAC Systems Are Still Evolving

The history of HVAC isn’t finished; HVAC systems (especially smart HVAC systems) are still evolving to become more efficient and cost-effective with each passing year. In addition, newer developments like heat pumps and geothermal heating continue to expand the range of HVAC needs that business and residential users have.

In addition, there is automation, mobile-friendly technology, and even virtual reality training that continues to change the industry.

TSG is the Future of HVAC

There’s nothing ancient about The Severn Group’s approach to HVAC, however. So if you need the very best in modern HVAC services, contact The Severn Group today! Our professional technicians are ready to answer all of your questions and recommend the best solutions for your facility. Also, make sure to check out the rest of our blog for more HVAC facts and tips!