Keep Your Cool – Air Conditioning in Our Everyday Lives

8.6.15 blog photoImagine a time without air conditioning in our everyday lives.  Think about the World’s Fair in St. Louis without air conditioning. It’s a typical St. Louis summer – warm and muggy.  You can just imagine sitting on your big front porch with a tall glass of iced tea, courtesy of the ice just delivered from the local ice man. Thank goodness for the ice box, iced tea and breezy porches.

As air conditioning became more widely used, it often was in public places, making things like going to the movies a popular event on a hot summer day. Room (window mounted) air conditioners made appearances in homes and often helped with a good night’s sleep in a cool bedroom on a hot summer night. I do recall them being noisy when as a little girl at my grandparents in South Texas, I’d plant myself in front of the window ac to cool off!

Air conditioning, especially central air conditioning, changed how and where we live and work. Air conditioning has made possible the vast migration to the south. Can you imagine millions of people choosing to move to Houston, Atlanta or Phoenix WITHOUT air conditioning?

What a Wonderful Life We Have with AC

Nowadays we often don’t give a second thought to air conditioning in our everyday lives. At least not as long as it’s working. Ever notice how it always goes out (or the power does) on one of the hottest days of the summer? Air conditioning is just a way of life these days. According to Wikipedia, 88% of new single-family homes constructed in 2011 included air conditioning, ranging from 99% in the South to 62% in the West.

Air conditioning has not only changed where we live and work, it has changed HOW we live and work. With air conditioning, television, electronics, etc. our lives have pretty much moved inside and private life as we know it came to be. Used to be that people would be outside in the breeze and talking with “folks.” Even architecture changed as homes and buildings no longer needed to rely on local climate and natural ventilation to stay cool.  The regional uniqueness of architecture in different climate types has all but disappeared in today’s air conditioning, electrified homes.

Of course, air conditioning has come with a cost. Much of our electric bill is due to air conditioning. This in turn means more electricity and more fuel (where applicable) to make the electricity used to cool our buildings, homes and vehicles. Air conditioning places a heavy load on our electric systems, infrastructure and fuel used to produce the electricity needed, especially at the hottest time of the day, when peak load electricity is often needed to keep up with the air conditioning.

To read more about keeping your cool this summer, check out Reduce Your Air Conditioning Load Without Breaking a Sweat


Black Out Curtains

Ceiling Fans

History of Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning Made the South What It Is, by David Shi

Central Air Conditioning, EPA

Kids Guide to Climate Change, EPA

Choosing an Air Conditioner

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