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HVAC Then & Now: How Has It Improved Through the Years?

August 8, 2022


The Industry Has Come a Long, Long Way

It’s tough to imagine life without our smartphones, cars and everything else we see as basic necessities. But when these inventions first hit the market, they were luxuries only the rich could afford—and HVAC technology was no exception.

Through the years, the heating and cooling industry has changed tremendously. The air conditioners and heaters of today look nothing like they did 100 years ago. Even in the past 10 years, we’ve seen a number of changes in how we heat and cool our homes. This includes everything from increased energy efficiency to home automation. Since we live in such a warm climate here in the Palm Desert area, we’re going to focus mainly on air conditioning and how the first air conditioners compare to the ones we know and love today.

It All Started in 1902…

This is when Willis Haviland Carrier introduced the first modern air conditioner to the world. A publishing company in Brooklyn, NY, was facing a humidity problem in its plant. Carrier was a skilled engineer who designed a system that sent air through coils filled with cold water. His new system was able to simultaneously cool the plant and reduce the humidity in the air. Today, Carrier is a household name that continues to pioneer heating and cooling technology.

While Carrier created the first modern air conditioner, he was hardly the first to experiment with cooling methods. It is believed that Egyptians were among the first to invent window air conditioning systems. Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians kept cool by hanging wet reeds in their windows. When the breeze went through the reeds, it would send cool air throughout the home. Talk about being ahead of your time!

Where We Are Today, 120 Years Later

We could go on and on about the history of HVAC and what’s happened since that fateful day in the Brooklyn plant. But to keep it short and sweet, here are the most significant advancements we’ve seen since the first modern air conditioner:

  • From a first-class luxury to a basic necessity. Like most inventions, air conditioning was accessible to only the wealthy for years. By the time window units were invented in the 1930s, it cost between $10,000 to $50,000, which translates to between $120,000 to $600,000 today. Thankfully, by the 1950s, air conditioners became much more affordable and accessible to the general public. By 2007, 86% of American homes had air conditioning. 
  • From gigantic and loud to sleek and quiet. The first air conditioner was quite the contraption. While the initial venting and piping would require a large room, air conditioners shrunk significantly with time. Today’s air conditioners are quieter and smaller than they’ve ever been, especially ductless models
  • From working harder to working smarter. Older air conditioners, even those made just 10 years ago, consumed significantly more energy than the ones we own today. Current models are able to work much more efficiently without sacrificing comfort. Automation has also changed the way we get to experience our homes. Instead of constantly fiddling with the thermostat like we used to, products like Nest automatically adjust the temperature to provide consistent, hassle-free comfort. There are many different aspects of home automation, and it is without question one of the most exciting and impressive inventions the industry has seen in the past 10 years.   
  • From environmentally hazardous to environmentally friendly. When air conditioning was first introduced, no one knew much about its environmental impact. Today, we as a society are much more conscious about protecting the ozone layer and minimizing our carbon footprints. The phaseout of R-22 refrigerant is one of the many steps we’ve taken to reduce our environmental impact and find better, “greener” ways to cool and heat our homes.
  • From one product to hundreds. The first residential air conditioner was a one-size-fits-all product. Today, there are hundreds of brands and models of air conditioners on the market. This doesn’t include other products, such as ductless mini-splits, heat pumps and indoor air quality products. On the heating side, radiant heating has taken the industry by storm as a more efficient and favorable alternative to forced-air systems. What started as a limited market has grown to become a multi-faceted industry with endless options.

Our Best-in-Industry Guarantee

At Timo’s, we’re committed to offering the very best the HVAC industry can provide. From our central air conditioners to our furnaces and heat pumps, we partner with the most reputable manufacturers who share our values for innovation and progression. We vow to always stay on the cutting edge of heating and cooling technology to ensure our customers have access to the very best—and nothing less!

To learn more about the air conditioners we carry or to schedule service for your home, contact us online or call Timo’s Air Conditioning & Heating at 760.475.9542 today!

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