The history of how our homes and workplaces are kept warm in the winter probably sounds like a boring topic, but we think it’s pretty interesting.
Okay, we admit, we’re biased! We’ve been in the heating and cooling industry since 1970, locally owned and operated that entire time, so of course we’re interested in how modern heating systems came to be.
But trust us, this is probably more interesting than you realize. It’s a journey that will take you from ancient Greece right into New Jersey.
Take a look:
- Central heating has actually been around since the ancient Greeks. Places like the Temple of Artemis had flues built into the floor. These flues would circulate heat throughout the temple, with the heat being generated by fires. In a lot of ways, it’s not much different than the home heating you have today!
- The ancient Romans did much the same, with empty spaces built beneath the floor. Furnaces called hypocausts were created underneath important buildings, in rooms supported by many stone pillars. Wood-fed fires created heat, which was pumped throughout the building through a system of pipes and flues. These were essential to those famous Roman baths!
- After the Roman empire collapsed, so did central heating technology, at least in Europe. For centuries, Europeans went back to primitive fireplaces to keep their homes and buildings warm.
- Europe may have been without central heating technology during this time, but not elsewhere. In Korea, excess heat from cooking stoves was circulated throughout houses through air ducts. Early Muslim architects also used central air, with pipes run under the floors to distribute heat to homes, government buildings and places of worship.
- By the 13th Century, that old technology had been brought back in Europe and was improved. Monks utilized it to heat their abbeys, using channels under the floor to heat large rooms. By most accounts, the systems were incredibly efficient, almost matching modern standards.
- In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the first systems that closely resemble modern systems were invented. Inventory William Strut created a large stove-live furnace that brought air in from the outside, heated it, and then circulated it through a building using central ducts. Yes, that’s a lot like how your house works!
- Not long after, steam heating systems were put to use, pumping steam through a building instead of hot air.
- In the mid 1850s, the radiator was invented, one of the last major steps towards the central heating systems we have today.
- And finally, in 1919, New Jersey’s Alice Parker was granted a patent for a central heating system that used natural gas to power the heating furnace. Her invention revolutionized the way homes were heated and led directly to today’s home heating systems. Thank you, Alice!
See, we told you we’d end up in New Jersey.
These days, of course, modern technology has dramatically improved how your homes and workplaces are heated – with a little help from friendly neighborhood contractors like us, of course. Now even the most frigid of winters can be pretty comfortable as long as you’re indoors.