Life in Northwest Arkansas was very different before air conditioning. In fact, without air conditioning, we wouldn’t have all those “Best Town in America” awards we’ve received.
Before air conditioning, towns like Fayetteville, Springdale, and Rogers had no chance of competing successfully for national businesses. Just like the airports, roads, and educational institutions that made prosperity possible for Northwest Arkansas, air conditioning was a necessity for getting a seat at the national and international table.
Early residents of Northwest Arkansas relied on design features to keep their homes relatively cool. Dogtrot houses, high ceilings, and sleeping porches helped families make it through the summer by taking advantage of the breezes. Factories? There were canneries in Northwest Arkansas in the early 20th century, but actual industrialization was just not practical. The heat inside a factory in an Arkansas summer made it impossible to run machinery. Even if the workers could tolerate it, the machines couldn’t. Ambient temperatures above 100 degrees are a recipe for breakdowns of industrial machinery.
It’s true of computers, too. The burgeoning IT industry of Northwest Arkansas would be impossible without AC.
While the first working air conditioner was developed in 1902 by Willis Carrier, the first big year for air conditioner sales was 1953, when more than a million air conditioners were sold in the United States. Population growth in the South began, and that includes Arkansas.
Air Conditioning appears in Arkansas
Air conditioning, from the beginning until the present day, is mostly accomplished by sending air across something that makes it cool and removes humidity. Initially, the air went over ice… but before electricity was widely available, getting the ice was a challenge. In the 1920s, refrigerants — chemicals that cooled the air — were discovered and air conditioners began to be practical. They were too big for homes, and the early refrigerants were flammable and toxic. Frederick McKinley Jones designed smaller air conditioning units in the 1940s, first for army field hospitals and then for homes.
Gradually, researchers at companies like General Electric discovered new ways to cool the air. Now, researchers continue to find safer, less toxic refrigerants. New laws require the use of these safer refrigerants, and Air Dynamics can help you get ready for the safety deadlines that can affect your home or business. Modern air conditioners also use 50% less energy than those installed in 1990 do — so updating your AC system can save you enough on your energy bills to pay for themselves.
In 1954, the employees of Washington Regional Medical Center got together to raise funds for air conditioning in the hospital. This was more than a decade before UAMS got air conditioning, even though Northwest Arkansas is cooler than Little Rock.
The Washington County Courthouse got air conditioning in 1970, and stepped up from window units to central air conditioning in 1974. Not coincidentally, the first air conditioning manufacturer in Arkansas opened an office in nearby Ft. Smith in 1970.
Now you have plenty of options for air conditioning installation and service in Northwest Arkansas. If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner or air conditioner repair, we hope you’ll consider Air Dynamics, a well established Northwest Arkansas air conditioning and heating service with decades of experience and expertise. Contact us today.