How to Live Without Air Conditioning and Beat The Heat (Spoiler: It's All About Design)

Air conditioning is a recurring topic on TreeHugger. It has become one of those luxuries that became necessities; as Cameron Tonkinwise noted a few years ago, "The window air conditioner allows architects to be lazy. We don't have to think about making a building work, because you can just buy a box". It let us move to places that would otherwise be just about uninhabitable, like Phoenix or Florida. We rounded up earlier stories a few years ago in The Deluded World of Air Conditioning Revisited, but it's time for an update.

Keep Cool With Culture, Not Contraptions

LuncheonRenoir: Luncheon of the Boating Party/Public Domain
What happens when humans treat themselves like dairy products chilled behind glass?

Civilization declines.

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Summer In The City: Urban Strategies for Keeping Cool


Really, when you look at most of the lists of ways to keep cool, you would think that everyone in America lived in a detached house in the 'burbs. But lots of people live in cities and apartments where suggestions like "don't use the dryer" or "plant a tree" are not relevant. How do you keep cool in the city?

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How Air Conditioning Changed How and Where We Live

Before air conditioning, in a bygone and surely less comfortable era, people employed all sorts of strategies for keeping cool in the heat. Houses were designed with airflow in mind -- more windows, higher ceilings..... In addition, many homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night. Many home designs took passive solar design principles into account, even if they didn't name them as such.

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Quotes of the Day: On the Evils of Air Conditioning

air conditioned nightmare quotes

We should consider also the insidious effect of central air- how it enables the development of parts of the country previously uninhabitable and which would still be but for the constant cooling, and how it is destroying the street culture of areas already established. How we are sacrificing neighbourhood and community by forcing our immediate personal climate to adapt to us instead of us adapting to it.

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Design Is The Key To Keeping Cool Without Air Conditioning

cool house without ac image

Vince Michael of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago Time Tells describes how he stays cool without air conditioning: "Short answer: real brick walls and trees."

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More Architectural Tricks To Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

cupola house image

We have covered many of the old ways of keeping cool, but Matt Grocoff points out another at the Old House Web: Cupolas. He writes:

Cupolas are as functional as they are decorative. As warm air rises cupolas allow hot air to escape at the high points in the house while bringing up cooler air from below. They also create a steady air-flow even when there is no breeze outside. In some homes, cupolas provide soft, indirect sunlight that illuminates the home without bringing in the heat.

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27 Tips For Keeping Cool From Planet Green

When it comes to green living, Planet Green is the go-to for how-to, and has been beating to death the subject of beating the heat. We round up a few cool thoughts.

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How to Live Without Air Conditioning and Beat The Heat (Spoiler: It's All About Design)
A roundup of stories about how to live without the dreaded AC, only some of which will make you feel better right now.

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