During the twentieth century air conditioning has been used in many ways to enhance our quality of life. Since the 1950s new houses and commercial buildings have been built very much with the comfort of the occupants in mind. Although the technology to achieve a high degree of comfort in buildings was available many years before this, it was not really financially viable for mass production in domestic properties at the low end of the market. Commercial air conditioning has a longer history, but recent advances have improved the efficiency and reliability of the equipment to a marked degree.
Air conditioning has actually been used in private homes since the times of the Ancient Egyptians, although of course this was strictly for the rich and powerful. It was only once air conditioning became established in commercial use, in textile mills where temperature and humidity control are absolutely essential, that it transferred into homes on any large scale. The years immediately following the Second World War saw the greatest expansion in the inclusion of air conditioning built in to new homes. These developments have had a profound effect on the construction industry and on urban planning, because it has allowed for the building of much taller buildings. This is because the speed of the wind at high altitude makes natural ventilation difficult.
As well as enjoying comfortable living conditions at home, many modern workers carry out their daily job in an environment enhanced for optimum comfort and performance. Scientific tests have now been carried out to ascertain the optimum temperature conditions for different types of work tasks to be carried out in and advanced systems of air conditioning have now been developed to produce these conditions no matter what the weather conditions outside. Of course there are some jobs where the comfort of the workers is secondary to the needs of the process being carried out. Today’s air conditioning evolved from the need for temperature and humidity controls in textile mills.
Of course the great change in the transportation habits of people in the Western world has also led to another common use for air conditioning. Both commercial public transport vehicles and private cars are now routinely fitted with systems to filter, regulate and even purify the air. With the modern lifestyle in the Western world meaning that more time is spent in vehicles, the need has increased to make the environment in those vehicles more comfortable. It is not only on hot days that the inside of a vehicle becomes uncomfortable to be in. On a cool but sunny day the temperature can still rise to an uncomfortable level in a fully enclosed vehicle. As well as helping with temperature control, air conditioning can help with reducing pollution levels in an environment where people are very much at risk.
From being an exclusive preserve of the rich and powerful in ancient times, air conditioning has become so common that there can hardly be anyone in the Western world who does not derive some benefit from it. Even if you live in one of the few modern homes not equipped with it, the chances are that you will work in a workplace fitted with some form of temperature and humidity control. Air conditioning is one of the great benefits to have become available to the masses in the twentieth century and with modern research the ozone harming gases are being replaced with more environmentally friendly options. There is no doubt that air conditioning will continue to benefit humanity throughout the coming century.