Have You Ever Wondered What Was Life Like Before Air Conditioning?
Years ago, we were not so privileged to walk into a nice cool home that had air conditioning after a sweltering hot day. The air conditioner was not invented until the 1920’s and wasn’t a common household appliance until the late 20th century. You would have to wonder how people survived the heat, but in reality back in the day older homes were designed to keep the home cool.
Airflow was a common thing to do in a home up north. Homeowners would open the basement windows and the top floor, thus creating a cool breeze throughout the house. Down south houses were built on blocks which created airflow under the home. Homes were also built with tall ceilings. Today homes typically have 8 to 9 foot ceilings, while back then they were as high as 14 feet. Heat rises, therefore allowing cooler air to stay in lower areas with the help of fans.
Ever notice those small windows above doors on the older homes? These were opened to also create airflow and circulate the warmer air up and help improve air movement. Older homes also had larger windows that were double hung. Hot air would escape through the top of the window and allowed cool air from the bottom part of the window. The older homes had more windows as well. If you look at the restored historic homes with the interiors designed to look just like they were back then, you will notice the long dark and thick window drapes. These were used to keep the heat out of the home.
Many homes had porches. Front porches, back porches, screened in porches, and wrap around porches shaded the sun. Screened porches were popular for sleeping; keeping cool and keeping the bugs out at the same time. Metal, tin, and copper roofs were very popular that would reflect the light off the house. Most homes now a days have dark asphalt shingles which absorb heat. Another way of keeping homes cool were to build them with thick walls. To do so, this cost more money but did provide and help keep the home cooler. The walls were between 12-24 inches thick. Not only did these walls help keep the heat out, but when the nights were chilly they kept the warmth inside.
If air conditioners were ever to disappear off the face of the earth, surely our homes would again be built as they once were before air conditioning existed. People would need to adjust as people once did before the invention of the AC unit. People did it once, people could do it again. It may just be a little more difficult because we have become so use to the luxury of having air conditioning at our fingertips.