What Did People Do Before Air Conditioning? - Ernst Heating & Cooling

What Did People Do Before Air Conditioning?

A camel with the Great Pyramids in the background

Do you ever wonder what the heck people did without air conditioning? Us too! So we did some research on what life was like before then …

A simpler time

Many of us indeed think about all the time we spend on our cell phones, the hustle and bustle of traffic, and many other tech inconveniences … and it makes us wish for a simpler time! But you have to remember that a simpler time means not only no modern medicine (got a toothache? Time to pull it!), but also no air conditioning, ever, even in July and August.

So we’re going to take you back to a simpler time, without you having to go through the discomfort first-hand … What did people do before air conditioning was invented?

The good

As you might imagine when thinking of simpler times, a world without air conditioning did encourage people to spend time together doing their favorite cooling-off activity, drinking tea on the front porch. This was a common social activity not only in the US but also in India. Wearing light linen clothes and drinking lots of fluids was the best way to avoid heatstroke.

Also, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. The lack of air conditioning did encourage people to come up with energy-efficient Solutions we still use today. For example, in the Middle East, it was traditional to face your windows away from the sun, and also, larger buildings had wind Towers that would catch and circulate winds and bring them inside. Although these solutions probably didn’t work perfectly, we can think of their wind tower as a precursor to wind energy/wind turbines!

The bad

However, the lack of air conditioning brought on quite a few inventions that would NEVER work, as well. In the 2nd century, an inventor in China built the first-ever rotary metal fan. But as you can imagine, this fan had to be operated by hand. And, it was the size of a room! So, it took the labor of many less fortunate people to cool off a few who were more fortunate …

Fast forward 1,700 years to 1881. (This was just before the invention of the air conditioner.) Here in the United States, President Garfield was very sick and overheated. The creative design built to help him was air blown through bed sheets soaked in ice water. His staff went through half a million pounds of ice in just a few months!

Again, whether it’s the 2nd century or the 19th century … it didn’t matter. It took a village to help one person stay cool!

The ugly

But it doesn’t stop there! We have an even CRAZIER story about what people did before air conditioning:

In ancient Rome, Emperor Elagabalus made his slaves go into the snowy mountains of the far reaches of Italy and slowly import an entire mountain of snow back to his palace in Rome! (No matter what you might think of your boss, at least they aren’t asking you to literally move mountains for them!)

The present

After Willis Carrier invented the first modern air conditioning system in 1902, which sent air over water-cooled coils, it was all uphill from there. (Get it? Uphill? Mountain?) The big debut of the first truly functional, reasonably-sized A/C was Memorial Day Weekend, 1925, at the Rivoli Theater in Times Square. That was the first-ever use of air conditioning in a public space.

And now, we have no idea what we’d do without it!

Of course, we here at Ernst don’t want you to go without air conditioning ever again. If you have A/C problems in the Hamel area, we are here to help! Just contact us online or call 618.217.1836. We’ll move mountains for you!

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