What Did People Use Before Air Conditioners?

Classic Ways to Stay Cool

It was 1902 when the first modern air conditioning unit was invented by Willis Carrier and ever since then, people around the world have enjoyed cold, crisp air in the heat of the summer. Although 1902 sounds like a long time ago, remember that people lived long before 1902 without air conditioning. So how exactly did they keep cool? Our air conditioning experts explain:

Dampened Sheets

Ancient Egyptians, Indians, Romans, and Greeks used to dampen sheets or mats and hang them in a doorway or open area. When a breeze came through, the air that flowed through the mat or sheet was colder than the breeze, creating a cold draft.

Underground Caves

Underground temperatures stay around 50 degrees all year round, which means if you create a cave or dig into a hillside to build a home, you can escape the heat and enjoy cooler temperatures. This is what many people used to do to stay cool.

Stone Homes

Because the stones in caves stay cold, many people built above-ground homes out of stone or brick to recreate the cooling effect that cave walls provide.


It’s always cooler in the shade, so why not create as much as possible in order to stay cool in the summertime? Homeowners often planted tall foliage on the east and west sides of their homes to not only block the hot rays of the sun, but also cool down the breezes that would flow through. Once winter came along, the trees would lose their leaves and sunlight was able to reach the house.

Architectural Design

Not many people think of architectural design when it comes to staying cool, but this was actually a major factor in home building. By creating archways, high ceilings, and large windows, builders could funnel in outdoor breezes and create a cross breeze. In addition, many porches were built in the shade to give people an area to cool off.


Fans have been around for hundreds of years; early hand fans were shaped in half-circles and made from leaves, feathers, fabric, or paper to make them light and easy to hold. Once the 1880s came around, many people turned to electric fans and ever since then, they’ve been a popular way to keep cool.

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