As you read this, you’re likely relaxing in the comfort of your home, office or even automobile air conditioner. However, this ever-so-common commodity wasn’t always the preferred home cooling technique. After all, air conditioners only became popular for residential use in the later part of the 20th century. So, if you’re wondering just how our ancestors got along without a trusty HVAC system, allow us to clue you in.
The “Stack-Effect” – Opening both basement and top floor windows allowed warm air to rise up and out of the home, bringing a cool breeze along with it. This was characteristic of many northern home, since they were able to have basements. Southern home’s however, were built on blocks due to their lack of basement, which allowed cool air to flow underneath and up through the floor.
High Ceilings – There’s a reason so many older homes have those charming, tall ceilings — makeshift air conditioning! As you know, hot air rises, so giving homes a bit more headroom for warm air to collect was key. Many old homes had ceilings that were 10, 12, and even 14 feet high.
Transoms – In tandem with nice, high ceilings, transoms — small windows installed above doorways — worked to facilitate air flow between rooms. For easy access, transoms were often fitted with custom hardware that allowed homeowners to open and close them at their leisure.
Double-Hung Windows – Large windows and natural light are a staple of many historic homes, and for a good reason. Similar to the high ceiling/transom idea, hanging oversized windows with sashes that open on both top and bottom helped control air flow. Opening the top sash allowed hot air to escape during the day, while opening the bottom sash brought in cool air at night.
Tin Ceilings – What’s more classic than a glamorous tin ceiling? While these have become somewhat of a design statement in the 21st century, the idea originally stemmed from a need to reflect sunlight away from the home. These, paired with metal roofing helped reflect and contain heat so the house stayed cool.
Wraparound Porches – When in doubt, step outside! Wraparound porches are nothing short of charming, but their original purpose was to provide a shady, breezy area for friends and family to gather when temperatures indoors were just too hot to handle.
Isn’t it surprising how many of these old air conditioning tricks transformed into home decor trends? We love high ceilings, large natural lit windows and wraparound porches just as much as the next guy, but we’re still happy to have a central air conditioner to compliment them!
If your home is still trying to keep cool with these 20th century tips, maybe it’s time you called Tyler Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration LLC for a complimentary in-home estimate. Just call 203-378-4700 today!