A Quick Look at the Past 50 Years in HVAC

A Quick Look at the Past 50 Years in HVAC

Posted by
Ed Miller on Sun, Oct 11, 2020


Imagine what it would be like to not have central air or an energy-efficient heater in your home. Fifty years ago, you wouldn’t have had to imagine. However, between new technology, increased energy efficiency, and improved safety standards, a lot has changed in the HVAC industry over the last 50 years.

HVAC Innovations During the 1970s

There were numerous HVAC innovations during the 1970s that created new possibilities in the industry. For instance, ductless air conditioning systems were introduced as an alternative to window air conditioners. It took a few years for these systems to catch on in the United States while they were widely adopted throughout Asia.

The federal government began investing in HVAC research and technology toward the late 1970s. This interest was driven by the energy crisis when fuel costs surged, and energy shortages were recognized as a very real future possibility.

The heat pump design model was invented at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This innovation led to big improvements in air conditioner technology.

Increased Awareness of Efficiency During the 1980s

The United Nations introduced the Montreal Protocol, which was an international treaty among many countries. The purpose of the treaty was to phase out the use of chemicals that depleted ozone. This included the Freon used as a coolant in most air conditioners at that time.

The HVAC industry adopted a near measure of energy efficiency that is still in use today. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) was the first national standard set for HVAC energy efficiency.

Becoming More Environmentally-Friendly During the 1990s

Freon was slowly but surely banned around the globe. So, the search was on for a more environmentally-friendly coolant. Carrier, a world leader in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions, contributed a chlorine-free HVAC system in 1994. Most HVAC manufacturers begin making the required switch to R134a, a more environmentally-friendly coolant.

Advances in Energy Efficiency and Environmental Protections During the 2000s

By the 2000s, R410a had replaced other coolants as the most environmentally friendly coolant available. New HVAC technology and better refrigerants dramatically improved energy efficiency by 30% between 1993 and 2005. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy set new standards for HVAC energy efficiency. Between 1965 and 2007, the number of American homes with air conditioning rose from just 10% to 86%.

Technology Rules During the 2010s

The Internet of Things welcomed HVAC systems into the digital realm. One such innovation was the introduction of the smart thermostat, which made it easy to wirelessly connect HVAC systems to allow customers to control their systems remotely and monitor their energy usage. Emerson Electric released the Copeland Scroll Variable Speed Compressor that helped reduce HVAC system energy use by 25 to 35 percent.

Looking to the Future

While many innovations have emerged during the past 50 years in the HVAC industry, there is even more to explore with smart home technology, Internet connectivity, and the adoption of solar power.

For nearly five decades, Snyder Heating & Air Conditioning has continued to grow with the HVAC industry. We are proud to have been serving the Jacksonville community since 1973. As new technology is introduced, our staff continues to keep up with the trends so that we can remain an industry leader, and be ready to meet all of our customers’ HVAC repair, maintenance, and installation needs. Contact us anytime day or night.

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