Today’s homeowners are fortunate in that they have many choices on how to heat their homes. Home heating systems have come a long way from fires in caves during prehistoric times. In this blog, heating and air conditioning contractor Schmitt shares a quick look into how home heating systems have evolved.
Ancient Heating Systems
Archeologists have discovered evidence that humans started using a vented form of heating about 100,000 years ago, but central heating systems apparently didn’t come into use until 2500 BC. The excavated remains of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (located in modern-day Turkey) revealed flues in the ground, which appeared to be designed to circulate heat produced by a fire. There was also evidence of radiant heating in structures built in the Roman Empire.
The Middle Ages
After the fall of the Roman Empire, humans resorted to simpler heating systems such as fireplaces until the early Renaissance period. Monks in Europe built central heating systems by diverting river water, heating it with a wood-burning furnace and circulating it through pipes. This was very similar to boilers of today, except they probably didn’t have heating system repair tradesmen like we do now.
Heating systems continued to develop well through the Colonial period: Benjamin Franklin introduced the Franklin stove in 1741, while across the ocean James Watt developed the first steam-based heating system, which was further refined into the 1800s. The radiator as we know it today was invented in Russia in 1855, and 30 years later the first thermostat was patented.
The 20th Century
In the early 1900s, Albert March discovered Nichrome, which came into use in two appliances that are still being used today: toasters and electric heaters. Around this same time, Willis Carrier started developing the first air conditioning system, the same technology that would be used for heat pumps. In 1919, the first modern central heating system was developed, and later enhanced with a forced convection system that became the ductwork system that we know today. Further improvements continued to be developed, resulting in energy-efficient furnaces, heat pumps and smart technology, the benefits of which we’re all enjoying today.