Human beings are interesting animals. People don't have warm, water-proof fur to keep us warm in the winter, or physical methods, besides sweating, of cooling ourselves off in the height of summer. What people do have are fantastically advanced brains that help come up with inventions and ingenious ways to regulate our environment's temperature. While other animals use tools and can learn from each other, humans are still the best at manipulating objects and situations to their advantage. You only need to look as far as the history of HVAC systems, which are made up of heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, to get a feeling for the lengths people go to make their habitat more suitable. If you are wondering about the whole history of HVAC in St. Paul and elsewhere, look no further to learn about how these advanced machines were created.
Heating and Humidifying Ancient Structures
Before the advent of electricity and the modern machines that keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer, there were only a couple of ways to control the climate. Man-made fire was one of the first inventions. Nobody knows how fire was discovered. Most scientists hypothesize that early humans observed lightning strikes and realized they could preserve fire by feeding it with kindling and keeping it dry. No matter the source of the discovery, fireplaces and furnaces were used for millennia to keep homes warm.
Following fireplaces, boilers and furnaces were invented. These were often fed with chopped wood or coal, and the resulting heat was directed with vents and pipes. In many cultures, including ancient Rome, routing hot steam was a common way to keep sleeping quarters or bath houses warm.
When Air Conditioning Started
The earliest methods of cooling off were swimming, using hand fans, and using architectural elements like cooling towers to bring the temperature of the air down. The breakthroughs in large-scale climate control came with the Industrial Revolution and the invention of electricity. After Nikola Tesla discovered alternating current, mechanical fans were developed. The first air conditioner-type unit created was the invention of New Yorker Willis Carrier. In 1902, he created a machine that sent air through water-cooled coils. The system was made to control the temperature and humidity of printing environments, where products could be seriously damaged by fluctuations. By the 1930s, air conditioning had spread to offices and department stores. After the 1940s, air conditioning in people's homes became much more common.
How Improvements Were Made
Improvements to HVAC components were made gradually. Many inventions have been perfected for industrial applications. Heating and cooling are important for many industries, especially to keep labs and other sensitive environments constant, so HVAC gradually became more efficient. Chemicals like Freon replaced water in air conditioners, which has the capacity to cool air much more quickly. Furnaces have added features like filters so that they blow fewer allergens into the air.
Looking Toward the Future
When your HVAC in St. Paul is working like a charm, it's hard to imagine how things could be improved. Unfortunately, there are many instances where air conditioners and furnaces break, or use more energy than is sustainable. The durability and energy efficiency of these machines are being improved. The Energy Star ratings have made it simpler for people to understand how much electricity their units are using and consider the benefits of replacing their machines. In the future, it's not difficult to imagine that HVAC systems will use less energy than ever and run on alternative energy like sunlight or wind power. What's certain is that people will continue innovating and finding ways to create better products.
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