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Imagine A World Without Air Conditioning

July 17, 2017

Fewer People Would Live in Hot Areas

Modern technology like air conditioning is not just a luxury. It’s a necessity. Lifestyles have changed a lot in the last generations, and without air conditioning, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Here’s what life might look like if we didn’t have this vital piece of modern technology.

It’s no secret that places like Florida and Arizona are hot year-round. The average daily high temperature in Phoenix tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit three months out of the year. Prior to the 1950s, few people lived in deserts like this because the excessive heat is not only unpleasant — it can be life-threatening.

During the latter half of the 20th century, areas like the Southwest and parts of the South saw above-average population growth as air conditioning became a common technology in modern homes. The population of Phoenix, for example, has roughly tripled in the last 50 years. Without air conditioning, these areas would never have seen these population spikes. This could have brought with it a side effect — an overcrowding of places with more neutral climates.

Architecture Would Be Different

Different parts of the country have different architectural styles that reflect the culture, history, and influences of that particular area. But that’s by choice, not by necessity — we can build any style of home pretty much anywhere. It wasn’t always that way, though. Homes used to be built to suit the weather because we had no means of controlling the temperature indoors.

For example, prior to air conditioning, architects would use overhangs as a functional aspect of a home rather than an aesthetic one. South facing windows would be shaded from the sun to help reduce heat in the house. If designed correctly, these overhangs could allow the sun in during the winter, but not in the summer. Shading also involved strategic planting of trees to keep the sun off the house in the summer.

Another architectural concept used before air conditioning was transom windows, which are mini windows above interior doors. These windows allowed light into areas that didn’t have windows, such as hallways. Not only that, but they acted as ventilation, allowing hot air to move throughout the building without having to open doors and reduce privacy. You might still see these transom windows in old buildings.

Speaking of windows, without air conditioning, homes might have more of them today. Architects used to design buildings so that windows were placed on opposite sides of the room to allow air movement when the windows were open. If two windows couldn’t be placed in one room, the rooms would be lined in a row so air could flow between them.

We’d Hang Damp Laundry to Cool Us Down

One of the more creative ways people used to cool down in the summer heat prior to air conditioning was to hang their wet laundry in doorways or in front of windows. This cools the air coming into the house or room as the water evaporates off the fabric. Chances are that without the popularization of air conditioning, we’d still be using life hacks like this to cool our homes — and they wouldn’t be nearly as effective as the tools we have today.

Our Schedules Would Change

These days, we have air conditioning to keep us comfortable while we work. Back before air conditioning, people would nap during the hottest parts of the day to help cope with the heat. They’d work later in the afternoon and then socialize after the sun set. People still do this in some parts of the world, such as Spain, Italy, Greece, and the Philippines, to name but a few. Without air conditioning, this might be a much more common practice.

It’s safe to say that our day-to-day lives would be quite different without air conditioning. It’s now become a necessity we’ve built our lives around. So that’s all the more reason to take good care of your air conditioning unit today!

About The Author

Bob Jenson

For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.

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