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Why Ancient Egypt Was So Cool

Egyptian building

And Other Historical Facts About Heating and Air Conditioning

I am a self-proclaimed history buff and as such, I am always interested in finding out where things came from and their origins. As I work for an HVAC company, I was curious about the origins of heating and air conditioning. I did a little research and discovered that HVAC has existed for thousands of years. Below are some facts about how our ancestors developed their own ways to create the perfect indoor environment.

  • Egyptians invented the first window air conditioning units. They stayed cool by hanging wet reeds in their windows. The breeze would blow through the water-soaked plants and send cool air into their dwellings.
  • Although Romans were not the inventors of aqueducts, they did use aqueducts to cool their homes. They directed water from aqueducts into smaller pipes that ran through the walls of homes therefore cooling down the entire structure. This could be considered the first central air conditioning system!
  • Herbert Hoover was the first President to have air conditioning in the White House. The cost of air conditioning installation in the oval office was $30,000. Today, due to inflation, that amount would be over $450,000!
  • Air Conditioning has been offered in luxury cars and limousines since 1933. However, the first car company that offered air conditioning to the general public was Packard in 1939. Although, it was not very popular. The evaporator took up half of the trunk space and the temperature was difficult to regulate.
  • In 1952, Lennox expanded their business and began manufacturing air conditioning systems. Its first model was a three-ton water-cooled air conditioner. Later in the decade they manufactured commercial air conditioning systems that saved energy by using outside air whenever possible.


  • Although there were similar structures in ancient Korea and Greece, ancient Romans created a furnace heating system called a hypocaust. They were mainly used to heat bath houses and public buildings as the heating systems were not efficient and were expensive to maintain. These building were constructed above a series of pillars and several layers of concrete and tiles. The furnace, which held a fire that needed to be tended to regularly, sent warm air upwards to heat the floors of the building. Caliducts, or tile flues, ran between walls carrying warm to the upper rooms of the structure.
  • The first steam heating system was created by English writer Hugh Plat for regulating temperatures in greenhouses in 1594. However, in 1775 Scottish inventor James Watt, with partner Matthew Boulton, was the first to install the system in his home. A centralized boiler supplied high-pressure steam to pipes that ran throughout a building’s columns, heating the entire space.
  • The first patent for a central heating system was granted in 1919 to Morristown, NJ native Alice Parker. Parker invented a furnace that was much safer than burning firewood. Not only did it use natural gas, but it also had a duct system that allowed warm air to travel throughout the structure. Additionally, it had a zoning feature which allowed for the temperature to be regulated in different parts of a building.
  • David Lennox, in partnership with Ernest Bryant and Ezra Smith, developed the first riveted steel furnace in 1895. His contribution lead the way forward in durability and efficiency in cast iron furnaces which were most common at the end of the 19th century.
  • In 1935, Lennox developed a blower to furnaces creating the first forced hot air furnaces.
  • In 1940, and at the onset of WWII, Lennox held an important place in the heating industry. Not only did they produce furnaces in their Columbus plant for military use, but also parts for aircraft and bombs.

Reiner Group Inc. has a rich history of its own. Established in 1934 by William H. Reiner and now lead by a Board of Directors, Reiner Group has remained a family-owned and operated business. As one of the most reputable and well-respected HVAC providers in Northern NJ, we are proud to offer our customers their choice of quality heating and air conditioning equipment. We offer all HVAC services from free estimates to installation and service.

We hope that you consider using Reiner Group, Inc. for your heating and air conditioning needs. Be a part of our history so we can be a part of yours.

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