Good Question: What Did We Do Before Air Conditioning?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Tonight on Good Question, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you it’s hot outside. The heat may have gotten to some of our viewers, because several are asking, “What did we do before air conditioning?”

Good question.

First modern day air conditioning was invented in 1911, although the idea of chemically cooling the air has been around since the 1700s. Before that, people used “old school” methods to beat the heat.

Look at the cavemen, for example. They lived in caves – nice and cool caves. Of course, fans were popular – hand held, and eventually the rotary fan.

Water was a popular use of air conditioning. In ancient Egypt, the folks there would hang reeds, soaked with water, in windows. The evaporation of water cooled the air blowing through the window.

Ice making machines in the 1800s had promise as a new way to cool off a hot room. Ice was used to refrigerate food; why not people, too?

Before modern air conditioning, architects would build homes and structures with a “built-in” cooling system. They would construct high rooflines. This way, the heat inside the structure would find its way to the top of the room, keeping the people down below more comfortable.

If you have a good question, send it to me at or find me on Twitter at I’ll answer you good question every Thursday on KAKE News at 10.

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