ancient air-conditioning roman aqueducts

Have you ever wondered who invented air conditioning? For hundreds of years, people have sought to create a more comfortable indoor environment. But early “air conditioning” looked very different from what we know today. Here, just for fun, let’s take a look back at the origins of indoor air conditioning.

Ancient Air Conditioning

People always used natural resources to cool their homes. It is said that in desert regions, slaves rolled large stones out into the cool night air, then rolled them back inside to cool the interior.

In ancient Rome, hundreds of miles of aqueducts supported by towering arches supplied fresh water to millions of residents. Certain elite homes were privileged to receive cooled water from this source as it was channeled through pipes in their brick walls, lowering the room temperatures. They were way ahead of their time in the HVAC industry.

Next, the Romans developed what became known as a hypocaust system. Homes and public bath houses had tiled stone floors raised by columns. The space beneath was used to heat or cool as needed, although you didn’t turn a switch to change the temperature.

Recent Advanced in Air Conditioning

Before electric air conditioning became available, people relied on open windows, fans (manual or electric), swamp coolers (evaporated), spray misters, etc. Every homeowner knew the secrets peculiar to their house to keep it cool during the summer, vacations, and holidays.

For example, venting became important. Drawing from one part of the house through an open window, and sending the air out through another, created cross-breezes. Placing a fan in a window and letting cool night air ventilate worked. Today many homeowners elect to install a whole house fan that operates in much the same manner, only far more efficiently.

In some parts of the country, especially in dryer climates, evaporative coolers worked very well. An evaporative cooler is typically box-shaped with the sides lined with straw and string woven into pads. Hoses and pipes released water onto these pads while a fan revolved in the center, sending cooled air into the home through a vent. But, if you lived in a humid climate, these added even more moisture to the air and didn’t make the air more comfortable.

We’re Thankful for Modern Air Conditioning

We can thank an American named Willis Carrier for inventing the first modern electric air conditioning unit. Mr. Carrier, who started the Carrier HVAC Company (still in existence today), invented the first electrical air conditioner in 1902.

Today, we have so many choices to keep our homes cool. Fans, window units, or whole house A/C offers the ability to make our homes as cool as we prefer.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the past. If in this modern age your air conditioner isn’t working properly, give Abel Heating and Cooling a call. We can be reached at 952-472-2665.