10 Ways People Kept Cool Before Air Conditioning

Here are all ten of the ways mentioned in this article to keep cool without AC, broken down in list format!

1.  Hang materials soaked in water in breezy windows or doorways where a breeze comes through, ancient cultures used reeds.
2.  Go swimming or take a cold shower!
3.  This was a primitive form of air conditioning the Romans used, which was running water through your homes walls.
4.  Place a bowl of cold water or ice in front of fans.
5.  Fans strategically placed around the house can make a big difference.
6.  Cave dwellings! Maybe you have a basement? The basement usually stays cool and this is similar to cave dwellings.
7.  Bowls of ice placed around the house can help cool it off due to the evaporation effect.
8.  Buy a brick house if you are shopping for a home, or visit friends or family with a brick home on those steamy days.
9.  Open your windows to circulate air, or sit in the shade of your covered porch.
10. Dress in cool clothing and eat cold foods such as ice cream.

air conditonerThese days it is easy to keep yourself cool during the summer heat thanks to air conditioning, but years ago it wasn’t that easy to escape the brutal heat. At times the heat
can be unbearable, something that we all know and deal with every summer, and some parts of the world have it worse than others.

The concept of air conditioning can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians when they used to hang reeds that were moistened with water in their windows, then when the wind blew through the windows it would evaporate the water in the reeds which would cool the air.  This was one of the first ways people used to keep cool next to swimming in cool water, and swimming is just as popular now as it ever was. These were two ways that people kept cool long before 1902, when the AC was invented, and even after since air conditioning was not in most homes for many years after AC was first invented. The AC didn’t really start appearing in numerous homes until around 1920.

The ancient Romans also found a way to keep cool, which was another very old idea they came up with that was a form of AC also but was only found in some homes that belonged to the wealthy. Their concept was done by circulating cold water through their walls which helped to cool their houses down, this is the third way people found a way to escape the heat a long time before air conditioning.

Even in medieval times certain civilizations found their own ways to cool off their houses to escape the sweltering heat. One medieval civilization, the Persians,  used wind towers combined with underground reservoirs to help cool buildings off, this was another evaporation technique they worked well on the hottest days and also a
fourth way that people kept cool before AC.

fanFans by themselves were another common way to keep cool, and this fifth way of keeping cool is another way that many people today still use to keep cool, even when they have air conditioning units it is sometimes more frugal to just run fans in the house. As we all know, fans can only do so much, and that is when we have to crank up the AC to cool off the house.

A sixth way that people used to keep cool was also taken advantage of by our ancestors, there were many groups of people a long time ago that decided to make their homes in caves, there were many reasons for this but one benefit of living in a cave dwelling was the fact that they remained much cooler year round, no matter how high the temperatures raised to. Of course the other protection that cave dwellings offered were important all year round but the fact that it could keep people cool was a big advantage.

People have always found ways to stay cool for thousands of years, and a seventh way that was employed took a lot more work but it helped out during hot summer days. This was a practice that the ancient Greeks used and it continued with others right through the renaissance period, and this involved hauling snow from far away mountains into the cities which people would place around their homes to help cool them off. This is another one of the evaporation techniques, and it worked very well even though it cost quite a bit to move the snow from mountains into cities and villages, for them it was a big money luxury.

There were so many unique and creative ways that people found or created to keep cool before the air conditioners that we take for granted. In many parts of the world the eighth technique that we will discuss was building homes out of brick. This sounds like it may not help at all, but it was a great way to regulate temperatures inside of the home. Bricks are a natural solar energy source, so they absorb the heat during the day and then at night they release the heat that they absorbed. This technique worked great, and even today homes that are made of brick can save a lot of money on running their air conditioning because of this. Years ago many people that could
afford brick homes had them built and this was one of the added benefits, and the people that couldn’t afford brick homes found a similar way to use this technique by building their homes from mud or sod, which also created a similar effect even though it wasn’t as effective as brick.

A ninth technique to help keep you cool is another one that dates back thousands of years like many of the others, but it also still works today and can be seen all of the
time wherever you go. This is by having large windows and a covered porch on your house. They are actually two different ways to keep cool but  both can be seen on many old style houses. Having large windows that can be opened during heat waves will keep a breeze running through the home that can help cool it off, and the      larger the window the more of a cooling effect will be noticed. People didn’t want to be stuck inside all day to avoid the heat though, which is still very true these days and that is why covered porches are, and will always be popular. Covered porches offer nice shading from the sun so people could be outside relaxing and staying cooler in the shade. Another way that people made sure their houses were shaded was by planting trees on their land that would help cover their homes from the hot sun, and this is another thing that we see people still doing all of the time these days.

ice-cubesAnother proven and dated way of keeping cool was a tenth way that people realized over the years, and this was how they dressed and what they ate. This is why people wear shorts and tank tops during the summer naturally, and it is also why cold foods like ice cream are extremely popular during the summer. Dressing in light clothing also dates back thousands of years, people used to create summer clothes from light materials such as linens because they were a lot lighter than other fabrics such as wool.

Over the years and to this day people have found ways to stay comfortable during the summertime, they all work even if they were not as effective as air conditioning. Using some of these techniques yourself can help you save money during the summer because it will cut down on the amount of time that you have to run your AC in the summer, and since running your AC can get quite expensive as electricity costs rise these can be some great tips for you.

Image Credits:
Air Conditioner
Ice Cubes

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  1. Wow what a great list. This could come in handy if we were to ever loose power during the summer months. I’ll definitely try eating ice cream to stay cool! Thanks for sharing

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  2. Thanks for the feedback! You can’t ever go wrong with Ice cream! Have a great day!

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