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How Much Did The First Residential Air Conditioning Cost?

Airconditioning can be found in almost any home. While we take them for granted nowadays, it was a luxury not many people could afford back when it was first made. But did you know how much residential air conditioning cost when they first came out?

In 1914, the first residential airconditioners would cost you $10,000 to $50,000. This is about $120,000 to $600,000 today. By the ’60s, the prices reduced significantly. Units were being sold at around $400—this reduced heat-related deaths by 80%.

How Did It All Start?

Even before electricity was invented, John Gorrie was already thinking about cooling and how this may help fight certain diseases. Gorrie was a doctor and an inventor, and he came up with a cooling system with huge blocks of ice from frozen lakes and streams. Gorrie would have these set up in hospital rooms, but the logistics were quite unreasonable. He then started using a machine that made ice using horsepower.

In 1851, he was granted a patent for his ice-making machine. Sadly, he never saw it come to market. What is important is that his work was the basis of modern-day airconditioning systems. (Source: HVAC)

Who Invented the Air Conditioner?

Willis Carrier was an engineer at the Forge Company at Buffalo, New York, when he was given the task to solve the humidity problem in the Brookly publishing company. The publishing company had issues with the moisture from the humidity wrinkling the magazine pages.

Carrier designed an Apparatus for Treating Air that used heat to humidify the air or used cooling water to dehumidify it. He was able to get a patent for his work and continued to run tests to perfect the technology. After the success of his invention, he realized the potential of his work and how other businesses could benefit from regulating the humidity in their space.

Carrier left his job and formed his own company, the Carrier Engineering Corporation, with six other engineers. Carrier was credited for the invention of the air conditioner in 1902. (Source: HVAC)

How Much Did It Cost To Have Air Conditioners Installed When They First Came out?

The first residential unit was installed in 1914. Back then, the air conditioner was a rather large machine that needed its own room. It measured at 7ft x 6ft x 20ft. One unit would cost you about $10,000 to $50,000. This was equivalent to $120,000 to $600,000 in our money today.

By the 1960s, the prices significantly dropped to $415, but it was still a hefty price to pay for comfort that only the rich could afford to have a unit in their homes. (Source: HVAC)

Modern Air Conditioners

As the years passed, air conditioners became more compact and cost way less. Over 43,000 modern air conditioning systems were sold. Several names came into the business, and Carrier did not monopolize the market.

By 2009, the Energy Information Administration reported that about 87% of American homes already had air conditioning installed. This is equivalent to almost 100 million homes. (Source: HVAC)

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