In 2018, the demand for residential air-conditioners produced in Malaysia soared to 914,000 units. That’s 1.73 new air-conditioners sold every minute!
Imagine what it would be like in a hot and tropical climate if air-conditioners didn’t exist. You couldn’t work in comfort, and commuting to work would be a nightmare.
Beyond just personal comfort, the air-conditioner has impacted humanity in other ways too.
1. A US president got elected
According to his book “How We Got To Now”, Steven Johnson argued that air-conditioning indirectly helped Ronald Reagan win his 1980 presidential campaign.
Before air-conditioners were invented, the “Sun Belt” region (the southern region in America) had very low populations. However, when air-conditioners became more affordable for households, it sparked one of the greatest human migrations in US history.
People from the north migrated to the south, and the population in the southern cities grew dramatically. Those who migrated were mostly older or retirees who were mainly conservative, Republican voters.
Due to the way votes are counted in the US, this population increase was pivotal in Reagan’s victory against Jimmy Carter.
2. Created summer blockbuster season
Before the air-conditioner was invented, movie theatres were unbearable during hot summers. That’s because theatres were devoid of windows and vents so it could be dark and quiet for the silver screen.
In 1925, Willis Carrier, the inventor of the air-conditioner tested his system in the Rivoli Theatre in New York. It became such a hit that cinema operators all over the country installed air-conditioners in movie halls.
Summer movies became popular and the most profitable period, giving birth to the summer blockbuster season.
3. Has made humans weaker
Research indicates that people’s dependency on air-conditioning has made them more miserable at handling heat.
As people spend more time indoors in air-conditioned rooms, their bodies have become more accustomed to indoor temperatures, making them sweat profusely when outdoors.
4. Changed how buildings are designed
Before air-conditioning, the architecture of homes and buildings were mostly designed to encourage natural ventilation and passive cooling from the hot weather.
Homes typically had high ceilings (so hot air could rise up), lots of verandas to add shading from the sun, and windows on perpendicular walls for cross-ventilation and improved air circulation.
Some older homes even had inner courtyards to encourage natural airflow. Old Peranakan homes are examples. Needless to say, this natural method of keeping cool resulted in lower energy consumption and was also more environmentally-friendly.
With air-conditioning, it became easier to design high-rise “glass boxes” that were completely climate-controlled.
Today, condominiums and commercial buildings have windows that must stay shut. The comfort of its residents are completely dependent on air-conditioning.
Unfortunately, this has contributed to growing energy and environmental problems. As such, designers and architects are returning to traditional designs with passive cooling techniques as inspiration for new developments.
In fact, according to freshmen.com, passive houses are deemed as the “future of building”. If you want to reduce your dependency on air-conditioning, tint the windows, add trees for shade, instal thicker curtains, and upgrade the flooring and awnings.
5. Air-conditioners are cold, but won’t give you a cold
Contrary to popular belief, being in a cold room with the air-conditioner at full blast won’t give you the flu; you catch a cold from a virus.
However, some people with sensitive noses may get nosebleeds if the indoor air is too dry. It’s also possible to get infected if indoor air quality is poor.
Cleaning air-conditioners regularly will help prevent virus, fungi, mould, and bacteria buildup in the filters and ensure cleaner air.
6. Office workers are more productive
According to one study, US government employees showed an increase of 24% in typing speed after switching from a non-air-conditioned office to an air-conditioned one.
Other research has shown a correlation between high temperature and work productivity; call centre employees saw productivity drop by 2.2% per 1°C when the room temperature increased above 25°C.
7. Students get higher marks
Research by Harvard University showed a connection between temperature and school performance.
According to the study, students had lower scores when the temperature was higher. High temperatures also impacted students’ learning abilities, especially when temperatures rose above 32°C.
8. Has made the internet possible
Data centres contain rows of servers that store and manage data for websites and computer networks to function.
Without a good air-conditioning system, these server rooms and data centres will overheat and break down, jeopardising businesses, telecommunications, banks, and security worldwide.
However, keeping air-conditioners running consumes a lot of energy, and is detrimental to the environment.
To prevent energy wastage, companies like Google and Facebook use innovative cooling technologies that are more efficient and environment-friendly.
While air-conditioners keep us comfortable at the office, school, and at home, they consume a lot of electricity – even more when they’re not serviced regularly.
A well-maintained air-conditioner will help improve air quality and ensure your air-conditioner functions optimally.
This article originally appeared on Recommend.my – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform. Recommend.my offers a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.