CCSS: 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5, 7.SP.B.3, 8.SP.A.1, MP1, MP5, MP6

TEKS: 6.12A, 6.12B, 6.12C, 6.12D, 6.13A, 7.6G, 7.12A, 8.5C, 8.11A

Keeping Cool

When the temperature spikes in summer, air conditioning often saves the day. It chills homes, hospitals, and businesses. Air conditioning even keeps astronauts cool in space!

But did you know that air conditioning was invented more than 100 years ago? You can thank Willis Carrier, an engineer at Buffalo Forge Company in New York. His boss asked him to figure out how to reduce the humidity at a publishing company. The damp air was causing magazine pages to stick together and the ink to run. 

Carrier created a machine that ran frigid well water through a series of small coils of pipes. A fan blew the warm air from a room over the coils. The chilled coils pulled the humidity out of the air, like how drops of condensation appear on your drinking glass. As an added bonus, this process also cooled the air, which was released back into the room. No more humidity or wrinkled pages!

For the next few decades, air conditioners were only in the homes of the wealthy. They had both the money and the space for the giant machines. As air conditioners and central cooling systems got more efficient, smaller, and cheaper, they became a staple in many homes. Today, about 48 percent of all home energy use in the U.S. goes toward heating and cooling. 

Air conditioning is also crucial in transporting food, keeping hospital air clean, and preventing the servers that store the internet’s information from overheating. “It’s hard to imagine a world without air conditioning,” says Patrick Phelan, an engineer at Arizona State University. “We take it for granted.”

Google Quiz

Click the Google Quiz button below to share an interactive version of the questions with your class. Click Download PDF for the non-interactive blank Answer Sheet.

Download PDF (Water Drops, Air Conditioner); iStockPhoto/Getty Images (Girl); Jim McMahon/Mapman (Map)

Answer the following questions using the information in the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

How much did households in the humid region spend on central air in 2015?

A. $50

B. $120

C. $200

D. $275

In 1993, what percent of home energy was used on air conditioning?

A. 4.6%

B. 6.2%

C. 17.7%

D. 24%

What percent of households in South Africa have air conditioning?

A. 6%

B. 16%

C. 63%

D. 90%

Which climate region in the U.S. spends the least money on individual air conditioners?

A. cold

B. marine

C. hot and dry

D. humid

More than 80% of households in which countries have air conditioning?

A. Brazil, India, Mexico

B. China, South Korea, U.S.

C. Japan, South Korea, U.S.

D. Japan, Mexico, Brazil

About how much more do households in hot and dry climates spend on central air than on individual air conditioners?

A. $75

B. $150

C. $250

D. $300

In which categories did energy use increase in U.S. homes from 1993 to 2015?

About how many more BTUs did people use for air conditioning in 2015 than in 1993? (Hint: 1 quadrillion = 10^15)

There are about 126 million households in the U.S. About how many have air conditioning?

What trend do you see in what people spend on air conditioning based on climate?

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Lesson Plan (1)