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Radiant Heat- The First In-Home Heating System
- Early radiant heating systems were developed in the Middle East and Asia. As far back as 1300 BC, an underfloor heating system was installed in the palace of King Arzawa in Turkey. Meanwhile, in Korea, an underfloor heating system called the ondal was developed. It uses fire to heat stones, which then radiate heat up through the floor.
- The Romans invented a radiant heating system called the hypocaust. Around 80 BC, the Romans came up with a radiant heating system called the hypocaust. This system circulates heated air from a fire or furnace through the walls and under the floors of a building. Hypocaust systems were very popular in wealthy Roman households and Roman baths.
- The Romans also gave us the word “furnace.” The English word “furnace” comes from the Latin word for “oven,” which is fornax.
Steam Heat- Modernizing In-Home Heat
- Steam heating systems were developed in Great Britain in the 1700s. Scottish inventor James Watt installed the first residential steam-heating system in the late 1700s. This system used a boiler and pipes to carry the steam throughout his home. Later, the first steam heating system installed in England was used to grow grapes in cold temperatures.
The Franklin Stove- A Significant Benjamin Franklin Invention
- Founding Father Benjamin Franklin made a significant contribution to the development of home heating with his invention of the Franklin stove. The Franklin stove, invented in 1741, was more efficient than other stoves in use at the time, producing more heat and less smoke.
The Electric Heater- A Bright Idea
- Thomas Edison invented an early electric heater in 1883. This electric heater used Edison’s new light bulbs to produce heat.
Central Heat- A Must for the President
- Central heat was installed in the White House as early as 1840. The original system used a furnace and air ducts, which carried heat to the state rooms and transverse hall on the main floor. President Polk had the system expanded later to serve the second floor.
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The First Thermostat- The Beginning of Johnson Controls
- A college professor patented one of the first modern thermostats in 1885, after he got tired of asking the janitor to go down to the basement and adjust his classroom’s temperature. The professor’s name was Warren Johnson, and he went on to found Johnson Controls, one of the biggest electronics and HVAC companies in the world.
Natural Gas Heat- Power Harnessed by Alice Parker
- Alice Parker patented a natural gas furnace central heating system in 1919. Alice Parker was an African-American woman from Morristown, New Jersey, who graduated from Howard University Academy. Her patented design helped pave the way for the use of natural gas in home heating.
- Natural gas is used for heating more homes in the United States today than any other fuel. Of the 110 million heated homes in the US, fifty percent use natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Other commonly used fuels for heating include electricity, heating oil, wood, and propane.
Electric Heat- A Southern Necessity
- However, electricity is used for heating more homes in the South. While natural gas is more popular in colder parts of the country, the majority of homes in the South use electricity for their heating needs.
- On average, households in the South and West regions of the US consume less energy than households in the Northeastern and Midwestern regions. The difference is largely because of the much higher need for energy to heat homes in the Northeast and Midwest.
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