Life Before Air Conditioning

Friday, August 7th, 2015

It’s our opinion at Daffan Cooling & Heating that the greatest invention, other than sliced bread, is modern air conditioning. Willis Haviland Carrier’s 1906 patent on the “Apparatus for Treating Air” changed the world as we know it.

We’ve gotten so used to having air conditioning in our homes and workplaces here in the Granbury area that some of us have forgotten what life was like before you could flip a switch on a 95-degree day and begin to feel cool in a few minutes.

Here’s a round-up of things people around the world reportedly did to stay cool before air conditioning was invented. (Youngsters, if you’re writing a report for school, don’t hold us to the accuracy of these statements — double-check your sources!)

  • The ancient Egyptians created a primitive evaporative cooling system by hanging reeds in windows and moistening them with trickling water.
  • In some homes, the ancient Romans circulated water from aqueducts through the walls to cool the building down.
  • Taking a cue from the Egyptians, early American settlers hung wet sheets from their porches to cool off.
  • Some settlers would even sleep in wet sheets! Desperate times call for desperate measures.
  • Early settlers and indigenous peoples knew the value of going underground. Dugout homes and cliff dwellings offered an escape from the direct sun and offered cool living spaces, like these beautiful homes in Tunisia
  • Homeowners relied on open doors and double-hung windows to create cross-ventilation through the house. They’d have to keep their fingers crossed for a nice breeze.
  • When all else failed, people would sleep outside. Porches, roofs and even fire escapes in the big cities were fair game for sleeping quarters.

Bet you’re glad, Mr. Carrier came along and invented air conditioning. Well, except for the cave homes.  They’re pretty cool, really.