Not Just for Comfort: Air Conditioning Saves Lives

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AHRI Celebrates 111th Anniversary of AC Invention

Arlington, VA – In timing that couldn’t have been more fortuitous if it had been planned, the nation – and indeed the world – today joined in celebrating the 111th anniversary of Willis Carrier’s invention of modern air conditioning. As people all across America, during this nationwide heat wave, move from air conditioned homes to air conditioned cars to air conditioned work spaces and back again, it is good to pause and be thankful for air conditioning, an engineering achievement that was named by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as one of the top inventions of the 20th Century.

While some in recent years have tried to make the case that air conditioning is an unnecessary luxury, a 2012 study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that there were 80 percent fewer heat-related deaths in the United States between 1960 and 2004 than there were between 1900 and 1959 – a drop they directly attributed to the rise in the use of air conditioning. Air conditioning saves lives.

“On a day like today, you would be hard-pressed to find a person in America who would not be thankful for air conditioning,” said Stephen Yurek, President & CEO of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the industry’s trade association. “But even as we are grateful for the comfort air conditioning provides, we should remember that it is also very much a life-saving technology,” he said.

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