How Did Iowans Stay Cool Before Air Conditioning Was Common?
Memorial weekend tends to be the unofficial start of summer for many Iowans around the state. We start seeing summer deals pop up around our favorite stores and Iowans have surely seen the summer temperatures start to creep in. Today, a large portion of Iowa will see temperatures in the 90s! Sounds and feels like summer outside to me.
Last summer, I learned a lot about what it's like to own your first home. My fiance and I bought our first house and boy did we have to bust out our wallets at the end of July. For 12 days, we had to wait on a new air conditioner to be installed in our house and we were basically forced to just sweat it out during those warm temperatures.
You might remember that last summer was hot in Iowa. In the months of September, there were still parts of western Iowa that were hitting triple-digit temperatures. After remembering how hot it was last summer and it's being predicted by the Farmers Almanac that we will likely see another summer just like it, I was curious what people did to stay cool before AC became a common house installment.
According to the Farmers Almanac, it's likely your parents or grandparents had to get a bit creative when it came to keeping cool during the warm summer months. Air conditioning has been around since 1902 but did you know only 10% of homes had air conditioning installed as late as the 1960s?
7 Things People Did To Stay Cool Before AC
According to Farmers Almanac, here are 7 ways Iowans could've kept cool during the dog days of summer before AC was common in households.
- Kept windows and doors shut at midday to keep hot air out
- Delayed cooking, baking, and kitchen chores until the cooler evening hours.
- Opened windows at night to let cool air in (this one is pretty obvious)
- Blew fans across blocks of ice
- Went swimming at their local watering hole
- Ran through sprinklers or fire hydrants
- Ate ice cream, watermelon, or iced lemonade
Many of these we might still do today but I've never thought about blowing a fan across a block of ice. It's possible your parents or grandparents remember this like it was yesterday if they grew up and were unable to afford ac.
It's going to be pretty dang steamy, in Iowa, for at least the next few months. Here is your friendly reminder to get your air conditioner checked/inspected and make sure it's ready to go for another hot Iowa summer.
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