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How Does POTUS Keep Cool?

Fun Trivia About Cooling and Heating in the White House

Every aspect of the White House is full of history. It was burned down by the British during the War of 1812. More than a century later, an electrical fire on Christmas Eve, 1929, burned a lot of the Oval Office and the West Wing. 

For many years, as Presidents came and went and repairs and improvements were made, the White House was considered a run-down mishmash of construction. It wasn’t until Truman came to the White House that it underwent massive changes, making it safer and upgrading it to modern standards at the time. But the history of heating and cooling in the White House is a little different. Read on to find out more!

Shooting the Breeze Outdoors


Before modern air conditioning was invented, a few presidents took to the great outdoors to find relief from the sweltering summer heat. Reportedly, William Henry Taft had difficulty sleeping in the White House on warm evenings. So, he had a screened-in porch built on the roof. He often slept up there on hot nights, enjoying the relative cool provided by the breeze. 

Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson preferred to work outside during the hot summer days. Instead of working in the Oval Office, the two presidents preferred to work outside in the Rose Garden. They even had a tent erected in the garden with a makeshift office, including a telephone, desk, and chairs for meetings. Many influential senators, representatives, and world leaders reportedly met with Wilson in the Rose Garden tent. 

Chilly Nixon!

Many years later, when the White House was updated and equipped with an HVAC system, some presidents no longer had to worry about the heat outside. President Richard Nixon liked to keep the temperature so low in the White House that he would have a fire going, no matter the time of year. This made many question the president's judgment, as he seemed not to care about the energy crisis the country was facing at the time.

President Lyndon Johnson was similar in his preference for low temperatures. He would keep the AC blaring in the residence that he would sleep under an electric blanket to keep him warm at night. 

Hard to Heat

The White House had a heating system in place many years before it had an air conditioning system. But the heating system only provided warmth to some parts of the White House. In 1840, there was a gravity hot air heating system in place. But it was only adequate for heating the transverse hall and the staterooms located on the main floor. 


Five years later, President James K. Polk decided to do something about the hard-to-heat second floor and other staterooms. He ordered a system installed that would provide heat to other areas of the house. This system included plaster-lined ducts that allowed the upgraded heating system to push warm air to the previously unheated second floor. Thus, the winters in Washington D.C. were conquered for the White House. But the oppressive summer heat wouldn’t be kept at bay until almost one hundred years later. 

About Wolfgang’s Cooling and Heating

Wolfgang’s Cooling and Heating has been serving Val Vista Lakes, AZ, since 1982. Their NATE-certified techs arrive on time, perform excellent work, and leave no mess behind. Wolfgang’s is a family-owned and operated business and is happy to offer guarantees on all their work. Call Wolfgang's Cooling and Heating for exceptional heating and AC services around Val Vista Lakes.


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