A Brief History of Home Heating

Published: Tue, 3 Mar 2020

A Brief History of Home Heating

Nowadays, heating our homes is a simple case of turning up the thermostat or switching on a home heater and advancements in heating have made it cheaper and easier than ever to heat our homes - not to mention eco-friendly too.
Throughout history, people have sought ways to warm their homes to protect them from harsh weather and cold temperatures, but heating methods weren’t always as reliable as they are now. From open fires to ancient underfloor heating, see below to learn more about home heating throughout history. 
The first hearths
Many of us probably picture open fires in caves as the way our Neanderthal ancestors kept warm, but the oldest known hearth (discovered in a limestone cave in Tel Aviv) was found to be roughly 300,000 years old. Fragments of bone mixed with ash found within the cave show that this ‘first fireplace’ was used for both warmth and cooking. 
Ancient underfloor heating
The Romans are thought to have invented the concept of underfloor heating, but it was first used in the Middle East around 1,300 BCE. The Romans improved on this idea and created one of the first-ever central heating systems which used fires lit in hollow spaces below stone floors. Heat was able to flow through floors and walls and eventually out through flues in the roof. 
Chimneys made their first appearance in the 12th century, and their invention meant that the hearth began to be replaced by fireplaces, vented via a hole in the centre of the roof. Chimneys have their origins in the slanted flues used in Norman castles which allowed a fireplace to be placed at the side of the room, opening up more space. 
The stove
The earliest metal stoves made an appearance after 1400, but fireplaces remained the predominant way to heat homes until the first manufactured iron stove in 1642. These stoves were safer than an open fireplace, but they could only heat one room at a time. Fireplaces were still very common and they relied on wood for fuel until the late 19th century when coal took over as the main home heating fuel. 
Steam and electric heating
The first electric heater was invented by Thomas Edison (who also patented the lightbulb), in 1883 and in the late 1800s, American inventor Dave Lennox manufactured and marketed a steel coal-fired furnace that could efficiently heat a home via cast iron radiators. This allowed a whole house or several rooms to be heated at once, so people no longer had to huddle around a stove or fireplace to keep warm. 
We’ve come a long way since the first hearths and open fires and many homes now use home heating oil to heat their boilers or hot water systems. If you’re looking for reliable delivery of domestic heating oil, then get in touch with the team at Southern Fuels. We’re always fully stocked and ready to deliver at a time to suit you, so if you’re looking for affordable heating oil for your home in Devon, give us a call today or find out more on our website


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