Business & Finance: Making Cold Hot

A new low-cost housing project is rising in Dallas, in which each house is equipped with year-round air conditioning. It is the latest evidence that the young home-air-conditioning industry is rapidly growing up. In the past five years its sales have skyrocketed from $19 million to $91 million, and the 18 companies that make home air conditioning hopefully think of themselves as the "Cinderella industry" of the 19503.

Air-Conditioned Fog. Because most of the companies make other products as well as air conditioners, the industry is shrouded in secrecy and a fog of confusing claims. There are three types of air conditioners:...

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