What Did People Do Before Air Conditioning?

Have you ever wondered how people survived during the hot summer months before air conditioning was invented?  The truth is simpler than you think – people were resourceful during the summer months, and they found creative ways to try and keep cool. Here are just a few of them:


One of the most common ways of trying to keep cool was the use of fans.  People used hand held fans, ceiling fans and electric fans in an effort to keep cool. But fans blow hot air and can only help to a certain extent.

Ice Blocks

With a bit of planning, people discovered how to harvest ice during the winter, store the ice in cool buildings that were called ice-houses, and then use those ice blocks to keep cool during the summer months.

Sheets and Mats

Another method of keeping cool was the use of sheets or mats that were dampened and hung up in a doorway or an open area.  The breeze would blow on them and provide a cooling effect.   This same method was used after the invention of the electric fan when they were placed in front of the fans so the air would be cooler.

Front Porches

Knowing it was cooler outside than inside during the summer, architects started building front porches onto homes so that people could find some relief by sitting outside on hot days and hot nights.


Architects found ways to try and keep homes cooler and provide relief during the hot summer months. They built homes with high ceilings since hot air rises.  The hot air would rise and then escape through windows that were placed near the ceiling.  They also built homes that were able to funnel in breezes that came from outside into the home in an effort to keep the home cooler.  Houses were also built underground since it is cooler underground.


In an effort to block the sun, homeowners would plant trees on the east and west sides of their homes.  The trees would block the hot rays of the sun from entering the home and would also cool the breeze before it entered the home.

Luckily, those of us in Arizona and other hot climates do not have to worry about ‘before air conditioning’ and we no longer have to go through such methods to keep cool during the summer months.  We do have to keep our air conditioning units in good working order though by proper HVAC maintenance.

Please feel free to call R&R Refrigeration to maintain and service your air conditioning unit and install new ones when needed.