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How Air Conditioning Changed Texas

by On May 16 2017

Can you imagine a Texas summer with no air-conditioning? We’re not sure we even want to! For hundreds of years, though, Texans had no choice. The heat was simply a fact of life, indoors and out. No doubt everyone needed plenty of bandanas to mop up all the sweat!

Naturally, the enterprising residents of the Lone Star State came up with many ways to mitigate the heat as best they could. Before air-conditioning, houses were built differently: Many homes had higher ceilings to allow the heat to rise farther away from people’s bodies. Deep eaves and porches protected windows from the heat of the sun, and it was common to plant trees on the east and west sides of a house for additional shade. Often, rooms and houses were designed with windows on opposite sides of the space, which allowed for cross ventilation.

Lots of Texans used an even lower-tech solution to beat the heat during the warmest hours of the day: the good, old-fashioned siesta. Folks would nap during the hottest part of the day, then resume working, shopping, and socializing once the sun began to go down.

These customs changed once air-conditioning was invented. It particularly changed life in Houston, one of the hottest cities in the United States. Formerly a smallish, swampy town, air-conditioning helped to make Houston the largest city in the South as oil tycoons, immigrants, and everybody else moved in and thrived in the new Air-conditioning Capital of the World. The first building in Houston to be air-conditioned was Second National Bank in downtown in 1923. Today, it’s a JW Marriott. The first residence in the city that was air-conditioned didn’t arrive until nine years later—the Jack Dies residence at 2103 Crawford.

As the technology spread, so did the population. Texas, along with Florida, Southern California, Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico all saw above-average growth during the second half of the 20th Century after the rise of modern A/C. Summer movie blockbusters became a hit as movie theater owners installed cooling systems to fill seats in the late 1910s and early 1920s. Before air conditioning was affordable at home, people flocked to the local movie palace to beat the heat.

Perhaps Texas’ greatest achievement in air-conditioning was moving baseball indoors. In 1962, the city of Houston took its obsession with air-conditioning to new heights when the Astrodome opened. For the first time, 42,217 people could enjoy a ballgame in perfectly controlled weather! It was a breakthrough innovation in stadium comfort that has since spread around the globe.

At Discount Power, we know how much Texans love air-conditioning! That’s one reason why we strive to offer our customers the lowest rates possible on electricity. Sign up for one of our discount electricity plans this summer and we’ll even give you $50 off your first month’s bill! See our promotions page for details.