Curious on How Indoor Heating Came About? A Brief History

indoor heating

Most people are aware that in the “old days,” fire was the common heating source for indoor spaces. How did we evolve to the forced-air indoor heating systems we have today? At Ortiz Heating & A/C, we thought it might interest you to learn how we came to the indoor heating we all know today.

The first forced-air furnace came to be in 1935. This system combined the heat of coal and an electric fan that worked to distribute heated air through the dwelling’s duct work. Not long after, furnaces powered by gas and oil would replace those operating on coal, which saved homeowners the hassle of constantly stoking the fire.

Open fires fueled by wood or charcoal were the methods used to heat homes in most ancient cultures. Stoves that made it possible for the fire to be enclosed were first thought to have been used by the Chinese in about 600 BC; this practice then spread into northern Europe and Russia. The problem with this heating method is that while the heat warmed homes, smoke was an issue, as the chimney/flue had not yet been invented. Finally, chimneys were developed and used to funnel smoke away from the living area; used in Europe in the 13th century before coming to America.

If you have heard of a Franklin stove, these came to be in America and were designed by Benjamin Franklin in the mid 1700’s.

It appears that the Romans were the true masters of heating the world in ancient times as the architecture of most buildings made it possible to include ducts or air spaces below the floors. Through these ducts came warm air fueled by brushwood or charcoal burned in a central area of the structure.

Dave Lennox is responsible for the heating industry’s first riveted-steel coal furnace, sometime around the Industrial Revolution. Natural convection was used to transport air through ducts as there were no fans or electricity at the time to distribute the air. In addition to this system, steam was a common and much sought-after heat source for both homes and factories.

As you can see, there is a long history where heating homes is concerned! Perhaps learning how today’s indoor heating came about will help us appreciate the ease of use and comfort we enjoy today.

As trusted San Francisco heating & cooling professionals, we believe an educated consumer is a smart consumer! Whether your furnace needs a repair or you’re considering a new system, contact Ortiz Heating & Air Conditioning today.