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Life before air conditioning- ways we used to have to keep cool in summer


Where would we be today without our air conditioners and really any modern day appliance? We are so lucky that we can just flick a switch or push a button and have instant temperature controlled rooms; but there was life before our air cons and here are some of the ways people use to keep cool in the summer.


  • Underground homes


This method is still used even today in Australia, by living underground people could escape the heat and the sun using the natural cooling effects of the earth’s layers. Coober Pedy is one of the main areas in Australia that utilises this technique; this area of sprawling Opal mines has a desert climate without many areas of shade. A common day would be around 36 degrees and around 42 degrees during January their hottest month, no wonder these guys needed to start living underground.


  • Rooms with high ceilings


Architecture played a massive role in traditional home cooling, as we know all heat rises so many older building you see will have high ceilings. This meant that majority of the rooms were cooler during the day, and is usually used for things such as offices and warehouses especially in hot climates like we have in Australia.


  • Front porchFront-Porch


If you didn’t have a home with tall ceilings the next best option would be to have a front porch. This way people could get outside in the breeze, while staying out of the sun and remain at home. They were also great for socialising in the summer with family and friends.


  • Arizona wet sheets/ wet laundry in doorways


Arizona is a state in America comprised of large deserts, but they did come up with some interesting ways to beat the heat. Arizona wet sheets are exactly what the name implies, during summer residents would wet their bed sheets with cold water and just sleep in the wet beds. Other similar options were to also put wet laundry in the hallways which acts as a natural source of coolness.


  • Middle eastern wind towers


This is one of the most intricate ways people use to cool down their homes and buildings. In places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar where it is always hot residents would build extravagant towers that harnessed the winds current using physics to push the wind through and down the tower, cooling the bottom of the structure where people would live or work. How amazing is that!


  • Water fountains/troughs


Now I am not talking about our current type of water fountains, I am talking about the old fashion water troughs that used to be in public places like parks before they were replaced with what we have today. These troughs were not only used for drinking but were usually large enough for groups of people to be able to cool their heads by dunking them in the water.


  • Ice blocks


During winter people would harvest and store ice blocks in preparation for summer. They would be taken from places such as frozen over lakes and stored in natural cool buildings called ice houses (after all this was way before refrigeration). These large blocks of ice could they be distributed to the public for use including drinking the cold water off of them.