No less than Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew considers air conditioning unit as the 20th century’s most important innovation, at least for the country. In an interview more than two decades ago, when Singapore was far from how it is now, the statesman even attributed the existence and availability of air conditioning units in the overall economic growth of the country.
This may seem like an exaggeration for some, but for Singaporeans who have lived through the humidity levels of the country, this is no longer a surprise. After all, Singapore was once dubbed as the “Air-conditioned Nation.”
Prior to the massive district cooling and the hectic scene of Singapore downtown, the tropical weather of the country certain did dictate the commerce, as well. As some officials would recall, any business transaction including meetings and selling were limited to the cooler hours of the day. That means that by around 11:00 am, everyone would then go for recreation. This has buoyed Singapore for quite a time until an American aircon brand entered the country in the 1950s. Without doubt, it was the business sector which immediately fell for the promises of air conditioners. Fancy restaurants and shopping malls followed. The availability of aircon simply provided a remarkable edge for any business establishment. Expectedly, everyone wanted to get their hands on the aircon.
It is worth noting though that it took a while before households joined the airconditioning phenomena. However, aircon also significantly influenced the residential landscape of Singapore. From bungalows, open-air, and balconies, high-rise and wall-to-wall living spaces were sprouting fast.
To date, it is safe to say that both the commercial and residential sector has efficiently caught up with the aircon phenomena, even making Singapore as the top aircon user all over ASEAN.
Now going beyond the economics of air conditioners, this innovation has no doubt brought a high level of comfort for every user. It has been so engraved in Singaporean’s lifestyle that the overall benefits are often overlooked.
Aircon has been revealed to reduce possibilities of an asthma attack due to the reduction of humidity, moulds, and mildew. This, of course, needs to be coupled with regular AC cleaning and maintenance of the air filters, as aircon can be a home of several bacteria, as well.
Interestingly too, insects and parasites tend to avoid airconditioned spaces. Several pet owners also observe that their dogs do not have fleas when confined in an airconditioned space. In an extremely humid country like Singapore, the health benefits of air conditioners could not be discounted, as well. Staying in a cool place is one of the best ways to prevent heatstroke and dehydration, especially during the summer months. Apart from that, air-con also aids in better sleep quality, something that will always make the extra electric cost worth it.
From being a highly economic commodity, the role of aircon in the lives of Singaporeans has significantly evolved to be a personal one. And safe to say, Singapore remains to be an the Airconditioned Nation, even two decades later.