If you are a homeowner, you probably find yourself whining about your air conditioner much more frequently than you ponder its incredible capacity to cool your home. Although air conditioning systems don't always get the credit they deserve, they are actually amazing inventions that have transformed society and your personal body chemistry. Here are three lesser-known facts about air conditioning that you can use to make small talk with your HVAC guy or to impress your friends.
1: Air Conditioning Can Affect Heat Tolerance
Do you feel comfortable inside, but melt the second you walk out the door? If you have ever wondered why some people seem miserable in the heat, while others bounce around with the greatest of ease, it isn't your imagination; it probably has to do with heat tolerance.
Although many people think that heat tolerance is only a figment of their imagination, the fact of the matter is that some people are better suited for different climates. When people are perpetually subjected to certain temperatures, their bodies naturally adjust to the climate. This process is called acclimatization, and it occurs over a period of about two weeks.
Because air conditioning systems are capable of transforming normally sweltering areas into cool, crisp retreats, air conditioning can lower your tolerance to heat. After becoming acclimatized, you might feel extraordinarily uncomfortable in the summer sun, or whenever you enter an area with a stark temperature contrast.
In order to reduce your discomfort, acclimatization expert Dr. G. Edgar Folk recommends only setting your air conditioner 10 degrees lower than the outside climate.
2: Air Conditioning Has Changed Architecture
Have you ever wondered why older homes have high ceilings and porches, while those types of items are considered upgrades by today's building standards? Contrary to what you might think, your ancestors probably didn't ask their contractor to add a breezeway in order to create an open-concept vibe. Porches, ceiling height, and long, open hallways were installed to take advantage of shade, airflow, and rising heat.
With the invention of air conditioning, all of that changed. Because cooled air could be routed through vent work and pumped through the entire house, homeowners had more control over floor plans. Instead of using space to accommodate large porches and lofty ceilings, homeowners could opt for bigger bedrooms and living areas.
These days, people have the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. By incorporating natural cooling elements into your home, you can boost the efficiency of your air conditioner, and maybe even cut back your power bill.
3: Air Conditioning Has Facilitated Growth in Inhospitable Climates
Although southern states are now known for their gorgeous desert landscapes and fascinating culture, they haven't always been so popular. Extreme temperatures and high humidity posed serious health threats to pioneers, so populations didn't start to shift to these parts of the country until after air conditioning was invented.
In fact, studies have shown that while only 31.2% of American citizens lived in the warm southern states in 1960, by 2010 that number had risen to 43.4%. Interestingly enough, the population density in the cooler northeastern states decreased from 59.7% in 1960 to 48.3% in 2010.
Air conditioning has given Americans the opportunity to branch out, explore new frontiers, and develop areas that were once desolate wildernesses. As you enjoy your summer trips to Phoenix to see your grandma, keep in mind that in 1950, you might have been subjected to 116-degree heat without the refuge that air conditioning provides.
The next time your air conditioning goes out, take a second to ponder how your life might be different without it. You can use your musings to break the ice with your HVAC guy, like one found at http://www.homesmartcolorado.com/, or to win your next game of Trivial Pursuit.Share