Life before Air Conditioning: 3 Ways People Stayed Cool

While it seems unimaginable to face the Northern Georgia summer without air conditioning, that was the reality not long ago. In fact, Willis Carrier’s modern marvel didn’t really even begin to make its way into homes until the 1950s.  So how did people stay cool before air conditioning? Here are three of the main ways that people tried to beat the heat:

    1. Architecture: People put a lot of thought into the way their homes were constructed before air conditioning came along. Though homes weren’t as well insulated from the outdoor weather as today’s homes, they made provisions to accommodate the warm weather:
        • Some homes’ windows faced away from the sun in order to prevent heat buildup
        • Homes were constructed to provide cross ventilation of cooling breezes when doors and windows were open
        • Many homes in the South had sleeping porches for cooler summer sleeping. These porches were screened in to avoid bugs but make use of the cooler summer nights.
        • Awnings shaded a home’s windows from the summer sun
      • People planted trees on the south side of their homes for shade.
    2. Fans, fans, and more fans: People have used fans for thousands of years to cool themselves. The use of hand fans can be traced all the way to ancient Greek society. With the invention of electricity came the joy of electric fans. The first electric fan was invented in the late 1800’s, with the ceiling fan coming along a few years later.

  1. Coping Mechanisms: When a hand fan or a summer breeze failed to cool people off, they relied on other coping mechanisms to help them stay cool. For instance, linen clothing is still popular in hot areas like India because of its lightweight texture. People might put their underwear in the icebox to cool them off for bed.

Many cultures in hot climates break up their workday around the heat, thus resulting in the afternoon siesta. These cultures also often had their own special drinks to help stay hydrated, like the all-important sweet tea. Movie theaters were one of the first public spaces to be air-conditioned, so many people flocked to the movies in the summertime to stay cool, resulting in the well-known summer blockbuster.

Luckily, we in the Alpharetta area no longer have to think much about staying cool. Even if your air conditioner dies in the night, we at Gagne Heating and Cooling have you covered with emergency repairs.  We’re committed to helping you stay comfortable this summer; learn more about air conditioning and how to stay cool by visiting our Knowledge Center or continue reading on our blog.