3 Ways South Florida Beat the Heat Before Air Conditioning

3 Ways South Florida Beat the Heat Before Air Conditioning

When was the last time you were without air conditioning? Through hot, humid summers, those of us in South Florida rely heavily on our A/C systems. It’s difficult today to fathom early settlers living in South Florida without the ability to moderate the moisture and temperature level in their homes. And just how did early South Florida settlers keep away pesky mosquitoes without the ability to close windows? Read on for three ways those early South Floridians beat the heat – and the insects that came with it!

1. Buzz off, Mosquito's!

Before they were able to close their windows and keep the outside out, South Floridians had to come up with clever ways to keep thirsty mosquito's at bay. Apparently, one method was to use newspaper as a lining for clothing as a way to ward off bites. Others used large, fine nets draped over their hats and wrapped around their shoulders, or even used whisks made of palmetto leaves as swatters to brush them off. And it almost hurts to think about it in the midst of almost suffocating humid conditions and scalding hot temperatures, but constant fires were kept burning to aid as an insect repellent.

2. Constructing Cool

South Floridians relied primarily on a building’s architecture to provide defense against the heat. Addison Mizner was the famous South Florida architect known for his ability to turn a Spanish-style home inside out and create the proper ventilation necessary to endure the Florida heat and humidity before A/C. Homes and commercial buildings were built with long central breezeways, thin walls, high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and wraparound porches which were all surrounded heavily by shade trees.

3. A Life of Leisure

A front porch was a high-traffic area for early South Florida families. It was a common sight for the entire neighborhood to be sitting on their front porch or strolling the streets. Many would sleep on their porch or fire escape, as it was much cooler than the smoldering indoors. When the automobile became popular, it somewhat took the place of the front porch for cooling off. Movie houses (theaters) were another place where people would go to avoid the heat, with several of these venues posting signs reading “20 degrees cooler inside!” It was a remarkable marketing tool.


By 1951, efficiency air conditioning units became available to homes. Nonetheless, it was not until 1960 that 60% of homes were using the A/C unit and 84% by 1970.


It’s eye opening to learn about how South Florida coped without air conditioning, but even more eye opening to understand the luxury of having an air conditioner that works. Not only have homeowners benefited from today’s advancement in technology, so have plumbers!


If you are experiencing a problem with your air conditioning unit, or would like a free estimate on air conditioning repairs, maintenance, or new A/C installation, please contact Rapid-Rooter by phone at 877-202-6874 or schedule your service online today and a representative will be in touch shortly.