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Before Air Conditioning

During the summer months, many of us depend heavily on our air conditioning units to help keep us fresh and comfortable and to ward off the humidity that can often become unpleasant during the days and nights. For many of us, air conditioning is one of those modern luxuries that we take for granted, and it’s easy to forget that for thousands of years, and even well into the last century, air conditioning just didn’t exist, or wasn’t an option for the average homeowner.

So how did people stay cool during the hot summer months? Here are four popular design elements that homeowners used to stay cool before air conditioning:

House exteriorCross-ventilation

Modern and luxurious living roomHigh Ceilings

House exteriorWraparound Porches

Well-lit room with a lot of windowsStone Walls

  1. Cross-ventilation

Cross ventilation involves strategically placing lots of tall, narrow windows around a home or apartment with the intention of creating a “funnel” of sorts to encourage airflow.

Some typical examples of this technique are the New Orleans-style “shotgun house” which are tall, narrow homes lined at the front and back with high windows. The windows are left open to encourage air flow, and because they are placed at the front and back of the house, they create a tunnel for the air to travel through, discouraging stale, hot, stagnant air.

  1. High Ceilings

Have you ever noticed that the ceilings in older homes and “character” apartments tend to be larger than modern ones? Modern buildings and homes are built with air conditioning in mind, whereas older homes needed to account for the hot, humid days and stagnant air that can get caught indoors.

  1. Wraparound Porches

It’s no coincidence that many older homes have large, wraparound porches. These areas provided convenient shady locations to spend the day and beat the indoor heat, and on hot summer nights, it wasn’t uncommon for families to sleep out on their porches. Not only did wraparound porches provide a place to spend the day in the shade, but the shady area also cooled the air around the home, meaning that any air that filtered in through any open first-floor windows was cooled down as a result.

  1. Stone Walls for Insulation

If you want any evidence that air conditioning has changed the way we build our houses, look no further than our building materials: most modern homes are built from wood and particleboard, whereas older homes tended to be built with brick and stone.

The reason behind this is simple: stone absorbs heat during the day, keeping the indoors cooler, and when the temperatures dip in the evenings they release the heat they’ve stored during the day, helping warm homes at night.

Let professionals help you stay cool and call (251) 259-4664 to reach a team of dedicated AC repair experts at Hembree Heating & Air Conditioning​ in Mobile, AL.

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