What Kept Houses Cool Before Air Conditioning?

What Kept Houses Cool Before Air Conditioning?

Many of us take air conditioning for granted. It’s easy to forget that before central air systems were commonplace throughout America, many people went their entire lives without enjoying the cool, refreshing indoor air provided by good air conditioning units.

Humans have been trying to keep cool for as long as we have recorded history. Even though air conditioning and central air are relatively new additions to the modern residential dwelling, we’ve been finding innovative and exciting ways to manage the temperature for hundreds of years.

Keep reading to see our favorite ways that generations before us kept cool without the benefits of AC:

Wraparound Porch
Stone Walls
Cross Ventilation
High Ceiling

Wraparound Porches

Most houses built after WWII tended to have large, covered front porches or wraparound porches attached to them. While these porches are used largely for decoration these days, decades ago they were critical for keeping cool and getting a good night’s sleep.

It wasn’t uncommon for individuals and even entire families to migrate out onto the porches at night to sleep and enjoy the (slightly) cooler evening air, rather than be trapped in a musty, humid house.

Higher Ceilings

Some modern homes have high ceilings which are purely for aesthetic purposes, but there’s a good reason that many “character” homes and apartment complexes have towering ceilings and windows: air circulation. We all know that hot air rises, so the higher the ceiling, the more top up the heat can go, keeping the floor a little cooler. Not just that, but taller ceilings allowed for taller windows; tall, narrow windows improve air flow and move more air through a room than the short, stout windows we see in most homes today.

Stone Walls

If you could afford it, building tall houses with thick walls made of stone and brick were commonplace to insulate homes and help keep them cool during the warm months. Many older homes have walls which are between 12-24 inches thick, and by building them with stone and bricks they were able to absorb heat during the day and release the heat at night once the evening set in. This also helps explain why some brick homes are so expensive to purchase: the added insulation (bricks) helps keep energy costs low.

Cross Ventilation

Cross-ventilation is the practice of placing inlets and outlets (usually strategically placed windows and doors) to optimize the flow of air through a building. For example, the famous “shotgun houses” in New Orleans weren’t just built tall and narrow to avoid the high property taxes; the strategically-placed windows allowed for optimal airflow and helped homeowners beat the Southern heat.

Stay comfortable with the help of qualified professionals and call 623-499-9794 to reach Christian Brothers Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Electrical in Glendale, AZ for fast, efficient solutions.

Air conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical repair since 1976 in Phoenix, AZ.


Take a Step Back in Time and Learn About Your HVAC System

History and Revolution of Home Heating Systems

The discovery of fire and learning how to create and control it were two of the most important discoveries in human history. Fire not only enabled humans to cook their food, it also helped them to keep warm.

Those cave fires were an early step in the creation of home heating systems. The history of the home heating systems people use today is a long and interesting one.

Glendale, AZ History and Revolution of HVAC SystemsTaking a Step Back in Time

It enabled humans to settle in colder climes. While humans have been heating their dwellings for thousands of years, the home heating systems in use today can be traced back about 150 years.

Archeological evidence shows humans used fire to warm their caves about 1.2 million years ago. Home heating systems have come a long way since then.

Ductwork, recessed wall heaters, tiny, mobile, heaters, heaters using electricity or natural gas, durable heaters made with advanced, lightweight metals, and heating elements made of ceramic materials, coils and tubes combined with electric blowers which channel the heat in any direction you want are available today.

The Ancient Romans

The ancient Romans are credited with creating the first sophisticated central heating system. Their system, called Hypocausts, is said to have channeled hot air created by a fire through pipes which ran under floors and behind walls. The ancient Koreans and Muslims were said to have had similar systems.

Prior to the 14th century, open hearths were used throughout the world to both cook food and warm homes. The invention of the chimney in the 14th century allowed the common man to better control the heat and smoke from their fires.

The 17th century saw the spread of wood and coal burning stoves to make fire to cook food and heat the home. In Russia in 1855 Franz San Galli created the first radiator.

It warmed homes by pushing hot liquids through metal pipes. Dave Lennox took it a step further by manufacturing and selling steel coal furnaces which used natural convection to spread the heat.

Albert Marsh’s Discovery

Albert Marsh’s discovery of the alloy Chromel improved home heating systems and led to the development of electrical heating elements. Alice Parker, an African American woman, invented the gas furnace in 1919.

Oil, gas, and electric furnaces keep hundreds of millions of people worldwide warm every day in their Glendale homes. Electric furnaces are popular because they cost less to purchase, install, and use. However, in the U.S. today natural gas furnaces are the most popular in Glendale homes.

Interested in taking a closer look at your Glendale, AZ HVAC system? Call Christian Brothers Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Electrical, today at 623-499-9794 today.

Air conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical repair since 1976 in Phoenix, AZ.