As we look forward to a new year (maybe this year more than others), it pays to look back. Researching the past can help us better understand our current lives, and one fascinating aspect of history is the origin of indoor heating. The experts at A-Absolute Plumbing, Heating & Air have compiled a brief history to educate our clients and to help us all appreciate the indoor heating in our New Jersey homes a little more this season.
Ancient indoor heating
In ancient Rome, radiant heating technology was created in part due to their large system of aqueducts and public baths. First used to heat the floor and later walls, combustible gases were passed through a hollow space called the hypocaust to heat both public baths and upper-class homes. Eventually, floor ducts and flues were added to this system, but the technology was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire.
Chimneys and stoves
Rudimentary versions of stoves and chimneys started around the 800s, and by the 12th and 13th centuries, these versions of heating were more common in Europe. Castles that were built during this time usually had stone fireplaces with short flues leading outside, but smoke was still a common problem.
A fireplace was the primary source of indoor heating until the 17th century when stoves became a safer and more efficient alternative. Wood was the fuel for both fireplaces and stoves until 1885, when the use of coal became widespread.
Steam and electric heating
In 1883, Thomas Edison invented the electric heater. The 1800s also saw the advent of steam heating and the first radiator out of Russia. The Industrial Revolution made manufacturing of various heating options much more common for European and American homes.
After the Civil War, home use of boilers and radiators in the Unites States grew exponentially, with the White House and Capitol being updated with steam-heating systems during the 1840s. The first coal-fired furnace with cast-iron radiators was marketed by Dave Lennox in the late 1800s to heat a whole home. These 19th-century inventions meant families no longer had to huddle around their fireplaces or stoves to stay warm.
Warm air systems
It is said that the first central heating furnace was invented in 1835. The first central heating system was later patented by Alice Parker in 1919. Furnaces were seen as a safer alternative to steam heating and became more popular by the early 20th century. The options that became commonplace in the 1900s are still in use by homeowners today: boilers or furnaces fueled by either oil, propane, natural gas or electricity.
In the last several years, we have seen the invention of solar heating and a preference for efficiency in our heating systems to help protect the environment. Technology has also improved in thermostats, with programmable options and smart devices that can “learn” your family’s schedule to adjust the temperature accordingly.
For the best in current HVAC technology, you can always trust the expert technicians at A-Absolute, who are equipped with the latest in training and equipment. Contact our offices at (908) 325-9807 or schedule a service appointment to give your family the gift of a comfortable home this winter.