In Nebraska, we, fortunately, are blessed with summer weather that doesn’t want to make us curl up and die. The heat, even though it can get extreme, is more manageable than it is in certain other states. While we pay for that with a cold winter, it’s nice knowing that it’s not necessarily the end of the world if you’re not in the presence of an air conditioner.

However, that’s not to say a broken air conditioner is pleasant, and you should definitely go about fixing that as soon as possible. But have you ever wondered what people did before a team of HVAC contractors could just drop by for air conditioner installation and repair? Have you ever wondered how on earth people survived when they didn’t have a powered system constantly cooling their buildings?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that people got by before air conditioners, so we can better appreciate the modern luxuries we have in our lives now.

They Stored Away Ice For Months

Isn’t it weird to think of a life that not only lacks air conditioning but refrigerators as well? When we learn about ancient people or even people from just a century or two ago, it’s amazing to learn what they had to do for simple pleasures that we take for granted today.

One such thing is ice blocks. While today there are creative ways to use a refrigerator to keep us cool, cooling things weren’t so easy in the past. People would harvest massive chunks of ice from frozen lakes and mountain areas and then bring them to special buildings called ice-houses, which were specially engineered to keep the ice cool all the way through to the summer, where it would become a valuable commodity.

Ice, naturally, was used to cool people down, but this isn’t a luxury that the average joe was used to — ice was valuable due to its rarity in hot months.

Public Fountains and Bodies of Water

Another go-to method for cooling down was taking advantage of good old-fashioned water. While nowadays, most people can’t be bothered to jump into a body of water out of fear of messing up their clothes or hair, people in pre-AC times didn’t feel the same. Water was one of the most reliable ways to cool down, and they didn’t have pesky smartphones to worry about getting wet.



This is one reason why public fountains in old times were engineered differently. In hot areas, fountains were often large troughs that people could freely drink out of or use as a means to splash water around. There’s a stark difference in today’s fountains — drinking fountains are small and meant for one purpose, and public decorative fountains strictly prohibit human frolicking.

Different Architecture

Did you know that modern advances of technology are largely responsible for the differing aesthetics of modern buildings to old ones? In today’s world, it’s a given that a building will have access to air conditioning, so the internal temperature is hardly a factor in the design. We expect HVAC systems to be up and running, and if they’re not, there’s never a shortage of HVAC contractors nearby that can solve the problem. Here are a few ways that buildings had to accommodate for hot temperatures in their design:

Large Porches

In older buildings, it was often less punishing to sit outside than to remain in the house. Without an air conditioning system, many houses could turn into hot boxes, and sitting outside in the shade could actually be a relief.

If you look at older houses before electricity and AC was normalized, you’ll notice that large expansive porches are a signature feature, always with some kind of roof or pavilion to provide shade. In these older times, people would spend a great deal of time sitting outside, and it was often a place for groups of people to socialize.

While certain houses these days are still blessed with cool porches, it’s more of a luxury now than a necessity, and the “porch culture” of the olden times has mostly gone the way of the dinosaur.

High Ceilings

It’s no secret that hot air rises. That’s the guiding principle behind hot air balloons, and if you’ve ever lived in the top bedroom of a two-story house, you are no doubt familiar with the curse of rising air in hot summer months.

Our ancestors were no dummies, and they too recognized this. As a result, many buildings were built with higher ceilings, often with windows near the top, so that the hot air could rise up and have a clear exit. This helped the hot air to have a means to continually flow, instead of rising up and getting “stuck” in the building, creating an uncomfortable and stuffy environment. Your home in Blair might not have majestic vaulted ceilings, but at least you can rest assured knowing you can regulate the temperature!

Underground Dwellings

Speaking of hot air rising, it logically follows that the lower you are, the cooler it is. One way that people used to get by without air conditioning was to have living spaces that were entirely underground or at least partially so. This is one reason why caves were a popular choice among the most ancient people, and as you progress through history, you can find myriad examples of all kinds of dwellings that incorporate an underground space.

If you have a basement, do yourself a favor and spend time down there; the temperature difference is night and day. Even people in a galaxy far, far away do it — remember how Luke’s desert home in Star Wars is basically a giant hole in the ground? Can’t go wrong with that.

Blair Heating and Air Conditioning Services

I think, no matter who is reading this, there’s probably something we can all agree on — air conditioning systems are pretty great. Make sure to take advantage of your HVAC during the summer! Of course, it’s not always so easy, and there’s definitely a possibility of your air conditioning unit breaking down or giving you problems.



If you’re in need of Blair air conditioning experts, whether you’re in Blair itself or surrounding areas such as Arlington, Tekamah, Herman, Fremont, or Omaha, we’ve got you covered. Our expert team is highly experienced in air conditioning repair and installation, and we’ll happily help you with your HVAC unit to ensure that you have a positively cool summer that doesn’t break the bank. What are you waiting for? For all of your air conditioning related needs in Blair, Nebraska, contact us today!