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The History of Air Conditioning in Texas

The History of Air Conditioning in Texas - black and white girl with fan

It’s hard to imagine where we would be without air conditioning in Texas, but in the 1800s people didn’t have AC units. 

Unlike 19th-century Texas, people today have the luxury of getting cool air with the touch of a button.  

The History of Staying Cool

Some of the first cooling mechanisms came from the Middle East, where engineers built breeze-capturing towers to bring cooler air into the home. The Romans built houses with double walls and running water between the walls, but these solutions were available only for the wealthy. 

Nineteenth-century Texans split their workday in two, working in the early morning hours and the cooler evening hours. During this period, many Texans built homes under the shade of trees and the windows were positioned to face the breeze to improve ventilation and make the home more comfortable. 

Modern air conditioning had its true beginnings in the mid-19th century. The idea began in Florida when a doctor noticed that his patients’ conditions seemed to get worse during the hottest months of the year.  He first solved the problem by suspending an ice bucket over the patient allowing the cool air to fan and slowly sprinkle onto the patient. The problem with this was the water and ice were quite expensive then. To lower his costs, he started learning about engineering and developed the mechanical cooler. For the next 10 years, these machine fans were used in health care, but the concept soon worked its way into other commercial applications. 

By the 1860s, the water cooler fan was available, but many Texans could not afford it. Instead, they made their own by placing a damp cloth in the window and waiting for the air to blow through it. 

The 20th Century Brings Modern Air Conditioning 

When the 20th Century came, many businesses began to invest in air conditioning units. In 1912, the first air-conditioned public building was the First Presbyterian Church of Orange, Texas. Orange is in the southeast part of the state and borders Louisiana. San Antonio also has the honor of boasting the first building to be fully air-conditioned. The Milam building was built in 1928 and had a 300-ton Carrier weather system used to chill the 21 floors and keep the temperature under 80 degrees and the humidity at about 50 percent. 

Air conditioning systems in homes did not become common until the 1940s when window units became popular. Friedrich AC manufactured most of the window units used in the state at that time. 

Today, about 90 percent of all Texas homeowners have AC units in their homes. Most Texans’ homes spend about 20 percent of their energy consumption on air conditioning. 

21st Century Air Conditioning

Now, summers are a few degrees hotter than they were in the 19th Century, but the technological advances in indoor climate control mean that  families can stay cool and comfortable.   

AC systems do a lot to make our lives healthier and more comfortable, which is why we should care for them and make sure they are always in optimal shape.

Chapman Air & Heat – A Leader in Texas 

If you haven’t had your air conditioning unit inspected in a while or need a new central air unit installed, it is important to have knowledgeable contractors who can troubleshoot and provide expert advice. 

The experts at Chapman Air & Heat have served area homeowners and businesses for 40 years. With experience in all aspects of HVAC, Chapman Air & Heat offers outstanding service to businesses and homeowners.

Call us at (214) 340-4999 or contact us online.

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