The ‘excessive’ heat is back in the Phoenix area this week. This means as temps creep up near 120, expect the usual barrage of social media heat related posts, car temperature pics, and all of the typical complaining we tend to participate in.
But rather than complain and whine, everyone needs to ‘chill.’ That’s because we are quite fortunate to do just that even though its hot enough to melt our skin outside. Yes, I’d like to remind everyone how fortunate we are to enjoy modern air conditioning. Specifically, we owe a HUGE thank you to the man credited with inventing modern day air conditioning: Willis Carrier (1876-1950). If anyone deserves a comfy spot nn the Heavens…Mr. Carrier must be included. Because of this man, every day of the Summer can be a ‘Cold Day in Hell’ (By way of staying indoors, of course).
Although the concept of cooling down rooms, objects, or even drinks was already in basic development, it was Carrier who coined the actual phrase ‘air-conditioning.’ More importantly, his conceptual vision evolved into the same modern day system that cools large office buildings, as well as large, open air stadiums like Chase Field and University of Phoenix Stadium. From a real estate perspective, we should also feel thankful for air conditioning, because without it, Phoenix would hardly have prospered into a thriving metropolis and real estate hub, with ever expanding urban sprawl and constant growth.
Carrier created concept for modern day A/C in 1902. Carrier was in Buffalo, NY of all places when he patented the first A/C unit. Surprisingly, Even in places like Phoenix, it still took a while to catch on as a regular aspect of life, and construction.
-One reason, as with most new technologies and products, was figuring out how to make air conditioning affordable.
-A more surprising reason was due to societal norms; before air conditioning, dealing with heat was an accepted aspect of life. More surprisingly, it was almost seen as ‘taboo’ if someone wanted to take measures to combat extreme heat. Until the 20th century, only the wealthy or those close to death might have witnessed someone trying to cool the air indoors—even though building a fire to keep warm in the winter would have been perfectly reasonable. Extreme heat was seen as a force that humans shouldn’t tamper with, and for reasons not entirely understood, the idea that a machine could control the weather was deemed ‘sinful’ in some parts of the country. Even into the early 1900’s, the U.S. Congress avoided the use of manufactured air in the Capitol, afraid voters would find out, and mock them for not being able to sweat like everyone else (on a side note, can you imagine how awful the smell must have been back in those times?! A room full of politicians arguing with the stench of B.O. in the air?)
-At University of Phoenix Stadium, AC costs average near $500,000 per month during the summer. During a typical even day, the stadium’s AC operation uses 8,000 tons of cooling power. This is equivalent power to cool 2,300 Arizona homes at 78 degrees simultaneously.
Before Willis Carrier
The use of ice and even snow to chill drinks or to help cool a room wasn’t a novelty. In the 1600’s, an inventor named Cornelius Drebbel used snow that had been stored underground during the summer to perform an act he called “turning summer into winter.” According to the book ‘Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold’, author Tom Shachtman speculates that Drebbel achieved his effect by mixing snow with water, salt, and potassium nitrate, which formed ice crystals, which could significantly cool a room of significant size.
Towards the 20th century, different people dabbled with ways to temporary cool things off for various reasons. Sometimes it was doctors helping patients with high fevers or other ailments. In 1899, a man named Alfred R. Wolff had preceded Carrier with an air-cooling device, installed in the dissecting room of Cornell Medical College in New York City. Because Wolff opposed many types of organized business practices–and even refused kickbacks and other forms of payments, he probably never received proper recognition as a Pioneer for air conditioning. Oh well…too bad for him.
America took a while to ‘chill out’
Remember, the concept of cooling rooms, buildings, and offices was a peculiar concept still avoided by the general public. The AC concept took time. Before the 1930’s here in the Phoenix area, if a room was cooled down to 95-97 degrees in the summer, this was considered adequate. In 1929, ‘Frigidaire’ promoted the first air cooler that was designated for the home. Gradually, more companies worked and developed more efficient and cost effective units. Advancements in TV and all communication also spread information to the masses much quicker. By the mid to late 1960’s Air conditioning was fairly common throughout the country. As you can imagine, without the concept of air conditioning that you’re probably taking for granted as you read this, the Phoenix area would hardly be the fastest and most consistently growing metropolis in the nation.
Giving thanks…to the ‘Coolest’ inventor of all time
So yes, it’s gonna be hot enough to cook food on the sidewalk this week, people will complain, and the metal on our seat-belts may burn us if we’re not careful. But let’s throw some gratitude towards Willis H. Carrier for giving us our ‘License to Chill.’ in this brutal desert. In our cars, workplace, or home, we likely take for granted the ice cold AC blowing and keeping us comfortable. This same invention has also enabled the Valley of the Sun to thrive and grow as the most prosperous long term real estate market in the country.
Ben Stapley is a valley native and has worked in the real estate business since 2009. For a good time selling or buying a house, and maximizing your equity, reach him at ben@LRAphx.com or 480 295-9125