Remembering a time when air conditioning was still new
What we call “air conditioning,” systems which chill and dry out the humid summer atmosphere, entered the residential market only after World War II, first as window units. They were expensive and inefficient, and some potential customers were uncertain just how to treat them.
Despite the comfort of cooler, dryer air, might going from hot to cool and back be unhealthy? And might closing the house up suffocate the occupants?
“Air Conditioning Sense,” an editorial published in the weekly Houma Courier some 60 years ago, addressed those issues with the assistance of an article in Today’s Health:
“Air conditioning,” editors wrote, July 25, 1958, “is not just a fad; it’s a way of life that has been adopted by many of our Houma and Terrebonne citizens as the best innovation for spending a comfortable healthful summer.
“Besides the advantages which air-conditioning offers the hay fever sufferers from airborne pollen and heart patients who are urged to remain at even, moderate temperatures, it is also beneficial to the healthy who seek relief from the mid-summer heat and humidity.
“For healthy working conditions, a good night’s sleep, comfortable relaxation or a perspiration-less evening in the theatre, people have decided that air conditioning is the thing and will be the thing forever.
″‘Today’s Health’ gives recommendations as to how this new development of science and engineering must be treated for maximum benefit from its operation.
“First of all, the magazine suggests, keep doors and windows closed. There is absolutely no truth in the fact that air in a closed-up building goes ‘dead’ or ‘stale.’ No normal house is ever so free of leaks around doors or windows that sufficient oxygen does not get in. Air conditioners also permit some fresh air to come into the house.
“Favored temperatures are 72 to 74 degrees, however, it should be varied with the rise and fall of the outside temperature.
“A good rule to follow, the magazine reports, is to maintain an air conditioned temperature approximately 12 degrees below the forecasted top temperature of the day. This will prevent the thermal shock of entering a 74-degree indoor climate from a sizzling 96 degrees.
“If you have a buffering zone, that is an antechamber which the person must walk through with an in-between temperature before the full-scale air conditioning is met (i.e. a theatre lobby or corridor of an office building), a difference of 15 degrees is permissible between the outdoor and indoor air.
“But whatever your preference in air conditioned atmosphere, stick to your guns. Place your thermostat in a place where it cannot be re-adjusted by every ultra-cold or warm blooded person who walks into your home or office.
“Don’t let every manifestation of chilliness or ‘burning up’ deter you from your chosen equilibrium. The complainers will be conditioned to the air conditioning you prefer; if it’s a reasonable one.
“Above all, remember that air conditioning is not a fan and should be draft free. You should cant (turn) the vents of your unit to the sides or up.
“Too many restaurant owners believe that air conditioning must blow its arctic gales on people’s backs in order to be considered effective. Such a misunderstanding of the purpose of air conditioning can lead only to aches and pains and sniffles and customer reluctance to brave the frigid atmosphere again.”
Today, we routinely buy factory air-conditioned vehicles and install whole-house air conditioning systems. Some homes are so reliant on air-conditioning that if the electric system fails, there is no convenient way to open windows and ventilate the house.
Common concerns about air-conditioned houses are not moving from hot to cool and back. Rather, owners look for ways to make the systems more efficient, to reduce electric bills.
Original article from https://www.houmatoday.com/news/20180729/photographs-and-memories-remembering-time-when-air-conditioning-was-still-new, 3/15/2019