Today, most people turn their central heating systems on and off without a second thought. Thanks to modern thermostats, you can closely control the temperature of your home and even adjust it remotely!
Heating technology has come a long way in recent years, but the history of home heating is longer and more involved than you might think. Here are five important milestones in the history of heating which shaped the technology and equipment still used today.
1. 2500 BC (Approximate): Romans Develop the Hypocaust
Underfloor heating is becoming increasingly popular, especially in bathrooms. But the Romans were actually the first to pioneer this type of heating system around 2500 BC. They designed the hypocaust, a huge, underfloor heating system. Wood was burned to heat water, which was then circulated below the floors, warming the floor and surrounding room. The Romans would use the same systems to heat water for their pools and bathhouses.
Unfortunately, with the fall of the Roman Empire also came the fall of the hypocaust. People began to rely on primitive stoves and fireplaces for heating once again.
2. 1624: Louis Savot Designs an Air-Circulating Fireplace
The problem with primitive fireplaces was that they did not do a good job of distributing heat. The area in front of the fireplace would grow increasingly warm, while the rest of the home remained cold. Louis Savot solved this problem in 1624 when he invented a system that drew air in from below the fireplace, allowed it to be heated, and then discharged it into the room through a grille above the fire.
3. 1742: Benjamin Franklin Invents the Franklin Stove
In the early 1700s, the low efficiency of common fireplaces and stoves became a problem as wood was in short supply. There were also many deaths due to unsafe fireplaces. Benjamin Franklin sought to allay these problems with his invention of the Franklin Stove. This stove used a siphon to extract more heat from the combustion gasses. It could be inserted directly into a standard fireplace, which had safety benefits since it contained durable cast iron.
Over the years, inventors have made improvements to the Franklin Stove, but most wood-burning fireplaces inserts are still modeled after this invention.
4. 1919: Alice Parker Patents the Gas Furnace
Alice Parker was an African American inventor who patented a central gas-burning furnace in 1919. She was not the first one to come up with this idea, but it was her patented design that would become the basis of central, forced-air heating systems all over the world. Rumor has it that she came up with the idea after growing tired of continually stoking the fireplace through the cold, New Jersey winter.
5. 1940s: Robert. C. Weber Invents the Heat Pump
Ground source heat pumps have received a lot of attention recently, thanks to their high efficiency and eco-friendly nature. However, like radiant heating, they are far from a new invention. In the 1940s, an inventor named Robert C. Weber was fiddling with a freezer in his basement when he discovered that the freezer discharged a lot of heat. He then began harnessing this heat to warm his entire home, effectively creating the first heat pump.
Later on, Weber found that he could pump heat from underground, where the temperature remains warm all through the winter. And thus the ground source heat pump was born. Weber stopped using his coal furnace, becoming the earliest adopter of 100 percent geothermal heating.
The development of modern heating systems has taken place slowly over centuries. Today's new technologies make heating more efficient and comfortable than ever before. Just imagine what heating will be like in another 500 years! If you'd like to utilize some of this new heating technology in your own home, contact the experts at Precision Heating & Cooling.