Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about our central heating system – it’s just something we have always had. But this modern convenience has some very ancient roots. Here are some interesting facts about the history of central heating.
• The Ancient Greeks were the first to develop central heating, using flues planted in the ground to distribute heat created by fires.
• The Roman Empire used a heating system called a “hypocaust.” Furnaces forced hot air through empty spaces under floors and pipes in walls.
• Three main heating systems – steam, hot air, and hot water – were developed throughout the late 18th to mid-19th centuries.
• Russian businessman Franz San Galli is credited as one of the inventors of the radiator in the mid-1800s, calling it a “hot-box.” By the late 1800s, use of cast iron radiators was widespread.
• Attempts to create a thermostat began in the early 19th century, but were not perfected until later that century.
• Natural gas was originally used for light, not heat. Historic districts of cities like Boston still have these gas lights.
• Natural gas furnaces are the most common type of central heating system in the United States. The gas has no smell so an odor is added to aid in detecting leaks.