In 1906, Willis Carrier received a patent for what he dubbed at the time an “apparatus for treating air.” (The Carrier name is still prominent among air-conditioning manufacturers still today.) But A/C units did not grow in popularity until after World War II.
In 1965, only 10 percent of homes in the U.S. had one, and just 2.8 million window air conditioners were manufactured that year, according to U.S. Census data.
However, today the A/C is an important system in the home. Ninety-one percent of all new, single-family homes in the U.S. are air-conditioned. Now, nearly 20 percent of electricity consumption in U.S. homes go toward air conditioning. That means Americans use about as much electricity on air conditioning as the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes, according to the book “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)” by Stan Cox.
Here are some tips so that home owners can make sure that A/C stays working effectively and efficiently through the hottest days of summer:
- Change out filters: Routinely replace or clean dirty filters. Clogged, dirty filters can block normal airflow and reduce the system’s efficiency. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy’s website says that replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent.
- Pay attention to the system’s coils: The evaporator coil and condenser coil can collect dirt over time. “A clean filter prevents the evaporator coil from soiling quickly,” The Department of Energy notes at its website. “In time, however, the evaporator coil will still collect dirt. This dirt reduces airflow and insulates the coil, reducing the ability to absorb heat. To avoid this problem, check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.”
- Check condensate drains: The Department of Energy also recommends occasionally passing a stiff wire through the A/C’s drain channels to make sure it’s not clogged. Clogged drains can prevent the A/C from reducing the humidity in the home and can even cause excess moisture to discolor walls or carpet.