One ton of Ice

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It was 1911 when The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles had installed air conditioning truly bringing the concept of keeping comfortably cool to the masses.  Ten years earlier Willis Carrier had started work in Buffalo, New York, a city not too far from our Greenhomes America office in Syracuse.   His trial and error over the years focused on dehumidification and it was in 1907 that the Carrier Air conditioning company was established.

What did folks do before that?  Looking back at a late 1800’s trade journal “Ice and Refrigeration” reveals a lot.    The journal is packed with beautiful advertising for coils and pumps and innovative patents for cooling systems ads for insulation like cork and mineral wool and insulating paper whatever that may be.  It also holds reports of what industry in need of cooling relied on every year:  Ice Harvests.

The Hudson River crop in 1890 was around “4,000,000 tons of which New York, Brooklyn and Jersey City will use 1,200000 tons or more if the summer proves a hot one”.  Ice harvest happened in many places, a number of rivers in Maine were used and the ice was then stored near shipyards to be distributed later.

There’s a connection to today we might not think of:  The size of our air conditioners.  From the beginning these cooling machines capacities were described by an equivalent amount of ice that would melt in a day.   A window unit might be less than a 1 ton system where central air can range from 2 to 5 tons. 

How much do you need?   Think of keeping food in a cooler for a long trip to the beach or a weekend camping.  As that block of ice melts it keeps things cool in there.    The more we open it up the more we lose that cooling.  The less insulated or efficient the cooler is the faster it melts.  Same goes for our houses.  We don’t think of running out of ice anymore because we’ve found a way for air conditioner to provide endless cooling, as long as we pay the bill.

The GreenHomes Partners I visited recently really know cooling.  Just as important they understand how to keep the cool in your home as well with air-sealing and insulation so you can get by starting out with a smaller block of ice!      

 Image from wikimedia commons

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2 Responses to “One ton of Ice”

  1. mike Says:

    Funny, just heard this story yesterday (also on history of AC):

    http://www.npr.org/2011/08/03/138924245/the-long-hot-road-to-modern-air-conditioning

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