We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I had never heard of them. They are evaporative cooling systems which are efficient in low-humidity areas. Deserts, for example. In the desert southwest of the US, they are often roof-mounted. A lot cheaper than a/c, but won't work in most of the US.
I know about them since I lived in Southern AZ for a few years. They really only work in the driest climates. For people who had them, the rainy season (late July to late August) really, really sucked. But even when they do work, be careful. I had a friend whose book shelf under the vent melted from the moisture.
At my grandmother's house in downtown Las Vegas, a swamp cooler would make me almost uncomfortably cold, even on the hottest days. They work great in a hot, dry, climate, but do require some periodic maintenance. They're very energy efficient, requiring only the power to run a small pump and a blower fan.
I lived in several places that used them in New Mexico. And I hated them for indoor use. Unless one likes a musty odor, they require more than periodic maintenance.
Where I do like them is outdoors. The last outdoor party I threw was in Louisiana in late July, early evening. Not only did the (quite large) swamp cooler make the backyard "bearable" it kept mosquitoes away.
Back in the 1960's, when car air conditioners were still pretty rare, I remember seeing cars in Arizona & New Mexico with outboard steel cylinders & a tube blowing air into the cracked-open drivers-door window.
They were Swamp-Cooler automobile A/C "systems", wind-powered, just refill water every few hours.
We had one of those!...and a canvas bag full of water on the front grill. Crossing the Mojave desert was a real adventure back in the fifties. Oh yeah, the Chevron station in Baker had pit toilets. Damn I'm old...
Did they live here before all of the lakes were formed? I've heard once or twice that it didn't use to be so humid in OK, but I always assumed it was just faded memories.
Summertime humidity in OK starts in the mid 80s.
I had a great Uncle who retired from the Army Core of Engineers. He spent a good chunk of his career building those lakes all over OK and North Texas. Good fishing among all the sunken trees as long as you don't tangle your line in them.
I grew up in New Mexico and the swamp coolers were common. Keep in mind that most of NM is high desert where the relative humidity is 40% or less. The swamp cooler doesn't work in hot high humidity states like Florida. I lived in Florida and you had to have refrigerated air. The swamp cooler couldn't work, too humid.
Oddly enough, even living in humid Georgia I've seen swamp coolers - they use them on chicken houses. They don't do a great cooling job but enough to keep the chickens from dying at a cheap price.
And of course, many large buildings use a multitude of water-source air conditioners or heat pumps for air-conditioning all the individual office or residential suites, which units are connected to a cooling tower - cooling towers work on the same principle as swamp coolers.
I'm surprised at how often I run into people who have never heard of these. It just took being stationed at 29 Palms once to find out all about these. In the summer, when those monsoon rains are a coming, nope - you better hope you've got some supplemental AC available, because those suckers will just push hot, moist air into your house. When we were stationed there (back in the day, as they say), the pads were usually made out of aspen shavings, so there was a peculiar aroma I always associated with them. Oh, and the water bill, too. It's an EVAPORATIVE cooler, after all. What was usually (in 1980's dollars) a $30 or so a month water bill would skyrocket to well over $100 a month. But that's what you got for living out in town; base housing, if I recall correctly had AC units, not swamp coolers.
My father’s family lives in the Mohave, and several of them use swamp coolers—they work fine there. In particular, his sister, my aunt, uses one because in addition to cooling cheaply, it humidifies the air, and she is the custodian of Grandma's grand piano. Pianos don’t like rapid changes of temperature and humidity.
Work great in Denver where mid-summer temps are 90°–105° and humidity at those temps is less than 30%, much of the time in the single digits. We had a pretty warm summer and my house never got above 78°.
I have to train new tenants from out of state to use them: evaporative coolers need to be exhausted via window openings and whichever rooms have the most exhaust will be cooled the most.
They cost about a quarter of what whole-house AC costs to run, including water, although Denver has pretty low water rates. The first two units shown here are common and have a ~25-year lifespan.
Us newlyweds had one in Randolph AFB housing in the mid-50s. You couldn't put in a window AC because the wiring wouldn't take it. Besides, window ACs took a lot bigger chunk of the paycheck to buy. The San Antonio climate made the swamp cooler marginally better than nothing at all.
How much cooler than outside temperature were your rooms? I realize that with such humidity, the cooling ability of swamp coolers is limited.
Without AC, my upstairs can get up to 90 at the peak, with downstairs at 83-86 degrees at the peak. Getting down to 80-82 inside would be, for me, quite comfortable.