Home heating through the years
Looking back at the history of home heating in the United States, it’s interesting to find that some things are so drastically different, but there are also old favorites that are still around and used today (although less for heat and more for ambience). Let’s take a walk down memory lane, looking at home heating then and now.
For the first 100-years or so in the U.S., the land was heavily forested and home heating was dominated by wood. Families had brick fireplaces and variations of the cast iron stove to heat their homes and keep them warm. The fireplace was truly the center of the home and chopping and hauling wood a daily chore.
By the late-19th century, coal-fired boilers delivered hot water or steam to radiators in various rooms in homes. At about the same time, the industry’s first riveted-steel coal furnace was developed. Homeowners had the nonstop chore of stoking the coal to keep their home warm. Without electricity and fans to move the air, the early furnaces transported heat by natural ways – heat rising through ducts into rooms above. These methods of heat dominated until about 1935 when the fan was available to power and distribute the heated air throughout the house.
Not long after that, gas and oil fired variations of forced air furnaces came into play and eliminated the need for home-owners to stoke the coal fire. The coal-fired boilers and furnaces quickly turned into a heating dinosaur and became extinct.
Gas and oil today, still dominate the heating systems in homes with over 60 percent of U.S. homes heated with gas fired forced air furnaces and about another 10 percent with oil. Obviously technology has drastically changed and the furnaces of today are much more efficient, cost-effective and manage our home heating needs better.
There are of course, other ways to heat your home. One of the most efficient and worry-free is the geo-thermal heat pump that extracts heat from within the earth to heat your home. Solar and wind powered heating systems are also extremely cost-effective. The biggest problem with these newer methods is the high initial investment, so you need to spend money to save money. But alternative heating also has more far-reaching benefits because these technologies use few or no natural resources, are renewable resources, and they have very little impact on the environment.
What does our future hold with regards to home heating? Sustainable home heating includes the types just mentioned, like solar, wind turbine, and geo-thermal heat pumps. However, each year newer innovations, such as using recycled organic materials like peat fuel or corn, improve energy efficiency and sustainability. As technology improves so will the affordability and availability of options – homeowners will have a real choice in home heating and won’t be limited to fossil fuels exclusively.
And yet, as much as things have changed for heating in the U.S., some things are very much the same. For many, nothing beats the feeling of a big roaring fire in a brick fireplace. It’s certainly not the most cost-effective or efficient way to heat a home, but it sure is a nice way to spend a snowy, cold day in the Midwest. Just like they did way back when.
For home maintenance and comfort tips, visit StayComfyMinnesota.com! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice.