How to Keep Cool

Advice from the Skidmore Standard at a time when they really did need all the cooling help they could get – August 2, 1901:

How To Keep Cool.

It is among the reasonable probabilities that the dwelling house of the future, at least that of the well-to-do or moderately prosperous family, will be as inhabitable in midsummer as in the cool, delightful weather of autumn. It seems especially probable that the inventive and adaptable American people will find and employ some means to avoid the extreme discomforts of hot weather, so far as their homes are concerned.

A sign of the future practice of house cooling may be seen in the idea advanced by Prof. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the Bell telephone, that it is entirely feasible in reducing the temperature in a house by means of a refrigerator placed in the attic.

The theory is based, of course, upon the scientific fact that cool air descends while hot air rises, nor is it believed that the expense of running such a plant would be considered extravagant. The original cost would not necessarily be great. It is not unlikely that in houses heated by furnaces some arrangement could be made by which the idle hot air shaft from the furnace could be utilized to carry the cold air from the refrigerator. In connection with such a plan if it would be essential, of course, to supply ample ventilation in the garret for the escape of the warm atmosphere that would arise from the lower floors.

Even now electric fans, playing upon large blocks of ice in suitable receptacles, are successfully used in cooling sleeping and living apartments in extremely warm weather. With all the talent of the shifty Americans for the discovery and applications of ways and means it is not at all visionary to expect that the time is not far distant when summer will bring no dread to owners of well equipped dwellings. “By the great horn spoon” this ought to be a comforting thought to the “suffering humanity” of this community – considering the torrid weather we have had for the past five weeks.”

Pending new devices for house cooling it ought to be more generally understood that a great deal of the discomforts of dwellings in midsummer can be avoided by some care in storing, so to speak, the cool atmosphere of the night. The housekeeper who has her rooms well ventilated at night, more especially in the early morning, when the air is not only cool but also pure, and who closes them before the rays of the sun can effect the temperature, stands a good chance of keeping her home comfortable throughout the day, provided, of course, the night air is sufficiently cool to contrast with that of the day, and provided doors and windows are kept closed until evening, when there is a return of cool atmosphere. Circulation should be obtained by opening an attic or other upper windows slightly on the shady side of the house and keep a current open to this vent.

Even in the ventilation of a single room too few persons observe the simplest devices of an apartment. In addition to opening doors and rising windows one or two windows should be lowered from the top in order that the cooler air coming in from below may force out the warmer, which naturally rises to the ceiling.

The house in which these simple principles are observed is a haven of freshness and comfort on a hot day of an average summer. Of course, the effect is lessened in prolonged hot spells, in which the nights are but little cooler than the day.

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