How Did People Live Before Air Conditioning?

Here we are, getting out of our air conditioned cars, walking into air conditioned houses, oblivious that the great outdoors is as hot as the face of the sun. Luckily for us, a Mr. Willis Carrier invented the modern air-conditioning machine in 1902.

But what the heck did people do before air-conditioning? Good question. Turns out, not a whole lot. But they did have a few neat tricks to stay cool before the dawn of sweet sweet A/C.

Sweat and fans

Just like most people in the world, Americans used to deal with the heat by just sweating it out and using fans to keep cool.

Home construction

Older homes were often built with high ceilings and windows on opposite sides of the room to allow for cross-breezes.

Porch time

There’s nothing quite like a wrap-around porch. Even though it was sweltering outside, the temperatures could get quite a bit higher inside the house, so a lot of covered and shaded outdoor space was needed to keep things manageable. Add a nice cool glass of iced tea and it wasn’t so bad.


Just like folks nowadays, folks before A/C had to be creative and make up ways to stay cool and beat the heat. Check out our post on how to stay cool while you sleep (without A/C).

Photo by firepile