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HVAC and American History: Celebrating the Birth of Cool.

The East Coast claims many great things; with muggy, humid Summers being least among them. But, as they say, necessity breeds invention, and in the case of Willis Haviland Carrier, aka “The Father of Modern HVAC”, it’s those days with air the consistency of pea soup that bred an invention that would someday change the world. In the spirit of our nation’s birthday, and the historical bent of the month of July, we at Miller Heating and Cooling would like to celebrate the history of what makes us great! We present: A brief history of HVAC!

Only since the middle of the 20th Century have we been able to relax indoors during the hot Delaware Summer. That perfectly chilled environment didn’t just happen, though it did happen with the same serendipity as the discovery of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup by our neighbors to the North (the chocolate just fell into the peanut butter!) Modern HVAC as we know it today started in Brooklyn, when an American engineer, Willis Carrier (born in 1876, and a graduate of Cornell University) was hired by Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographic and Publishing Company to come up with a solution to help dehumidify the area around their printing machines. The humidity was ruining their paper and causing their ink to run. Carrier didn’t set out to cool anyone down. In fact, the beliefs at that time were that humans “controlling” too many of their external conditions went “against God’s will.” But, business was disrupted. They needed a solution. Carrier created an industrial fan that blew air over steam coils filled with cold water. The humidity from this would then condense on the coils, resulting in dry, cooled air. The system didn’t just cool off the paper and keep it dry, it cooled off and kept the employees comfortable, too!

Energized by this finding, (and by the temporarily release from humidity-based lethargy), Carrier submitted drawings for what would become the first modern air-conditioning system, which by this new standard would perform four basic functions. A true air-conditioner would control temperature, humidity, air circulation and ventilation, while cleansing the air (all standards the solutions at Miller Heating and Cooling still uphold today!)

World War I, the Great Depression, the 1939 New York World’s Fair demo of Carrier’s “igloo”, and World War II, all had their effect on the pace of bringing Carrier’s invention to the masses. Still, the increase in productivity from being able to maintain industry all year long revolutionized American life and helped kick off the great migration to the Sunbelt. Eventually, in the post-war boom of the 1950’s, HVAC systems became staples in American homes. And we at Miller are sure glad they did!

Today, you can catch a glimpse of Carrier’s first practical centrifugal refrigeration compressor from 1922 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. And, if you want to see how far Carrier’s vision has come, you can give us a call! We proudly install and service American Standard, Aprilaire, Honeywell, Bradford White water heaters, Navien tankless water heaters, and Weil McLain boilers. Miller Heating & Cooling is proud to be one of the leading HVAC companies in Delaware, with 30-plus years of experience. We serve residential and commercial customers in many areas of Delaware, including Dover and Newark, and deliver cost-effective, energy-efficient solutions for all of your air conditioning needs, from installation to repair, as well as allergen removal, duct cleaning and sanitization.

Willis Haviland Carrier would be so proud.

Call us at: 302-750-2409 or visit our website:

Happy birthday, America! And stay cool!