What Life is like in SoCal Without Air Conditioning



Groan. The A/C broke?!

On more temperate days, of course, that's "no sweat," literally. But on days when temperatures soar, life in Southern California can be miserable without that unit-fed breeze.

Part of that is because of our evolution into modern life. Today, we don't even think about not having air-conditioning. For most of us, when the mercury rises, we flip a switch and go about our daily lives, no adjustments needed.

That makes living without air conditioning even more miserable than what our ancestors had to put up with, for two reasons: We aren't used to it, and we don't have life set up to ride out hot temperatures. Take a look at how things have changed:

Aren't Cool by Design
We sweat it out in houses and other buildings that aren't "cool" by design.

Our ancestors knew how to keep as cool as possible; one of the ways they did this before the days of electricity and fans, much less air-conditioning, was to construct their buildings to be as cool as possible naturally. It's also notable that today's houses have been constructed to be as well insulated as possible. While that's necessary for energy efficiency, it also means that indoor temperatures soar on hot days when air-conditioning is not available.

Fewer Windows
Houses used to have more windows; inhabitants opened those windows to encourage cool cross breezes to blow through the house. Modern houses don't have the same design, meaning we can't take advantage of cross breezes as much and stay cool.

Lower Ceilings
Older houses have higher ceilings than do modern ones. Since warm air rises, this means that the worst of the heat would rise up and out of the way, allowing heavier and cooler air to stay on the bottom. Our penchant for ceilings that are 8 feet high means we can't escape the heat on hot days without air-conditioning. It doesn't rise, so it stays put and envelops us in oven-like temperatures.

No Front Porch
Modern houses don't have large front porches or more likely, no porch at all. Previous generations sat companionably on front porches and simply "shot the breeze" during the hottest parts of the day, fanning themselves to keep cool, drinking iced tea, and catching up on gossip.

Air-conditioning's cooling ability has meant the gradual disappearance of these cooling front porches, giving us more time to get done what we need to do, of course, but also leaving us without yet another way to keep cool without air-conditioning.

No Rest for the Wiped Out
We don't take naps, rest or swim during the hottest parts of the day anymore.

Previous generations knew that when it was really hot out, one simply took a break from things and rested, slept through it, or cooled off by taking a swim. Today, we don't know how to do that. In our 24 hours a day, seven day a week lives, we think we must always be busy, busy, busy, busy, busy. In the hottest parts of the day, we think we still have to complete our to-do lists even if we don't have air conditioning, instead of taking it easy.

Short of returning to methods of bygone days, which would be difficult to do at best, what that means is that we simply need air-conditioning.

What is life like in Southern California without air-conditioning? It's hot. Eventually you’ll need air conditioner repair in Long Beach, Burbank, Los Angeles or wherever your house roasts under the sun.

While our ancestors were used to things being hot every once in a while and knew how to get to it, we don't. We need our air-conditioning to keep us cool and have simply adjusted to having this modern miracle at our fingertips when temperatures soar.

While everybody is most certainly uncomfortable when it's hot, for some people, it can truly be dangerous.

The elderly and people with medical conditions where the autonomic nervous system has been negatively affected so the body does not properly sweat or otherwise automatically adjust internal body temperature are most at risk for conditions like heatstroke in these conditions. Because of that, air-conditioning is an absolute necessity in Southern California during the hottest days.

Too Hot is Counterproductive
Modern life is built around productivity. The more we can get done, the more successful we are. While we certainly need lives that are balanced, with enough rest, downtime and recreation in addition to work, having that downtime forced upon us because it's too hot to do anything else is counterproductive. Air-conditioning lets us live our best lives every day, all the time.