Calgary Heating: History of Heating Systems in Homes
Hello everyone, Kyle here from Clearview Plumbing and Heating. Did you know that there are several things around your home which were originally intended to act as heating or cooling systems? The invention of the air conditioner and the forced air furnace are relatively recent phenomena, but of course humans still had to control the air temperatures around them in order to remain comfortable. How did people keep themselves warm and cool in their homes before the machines took over?
Build Homes Well
In the 18th century, the only thing standing between people and being too cold or too hot was common sense. Homes were built with open south sides to draw in winter heat and trees on the east and west to shade from the summer sunrise and sunset. Daub, caulking and brick and wood nogging was the insulation and heating was done through stoves and fireplaces which were largely able to radiate heat close to the source. The Pennsylvania Stove by Benjamin Franklin promised to alleviate that with better air circulation and less smoke, but it was all still pretty primitive.
Did you know that the veranda, high ceilings, balconies and porches were all invented in order to help moderate air temperature? Verandas and high ceiling were used to lessen the impact of the sun while things like balconies and indoor courtyards were used to cut down on heat and humidity. They were all made to help better circulate air and scatter the impact of the sun. Homes built in this time were all built with an eye towards what the average climate of the area was like and that led to many of the historic buildings we see today with high ceilings and beautiful verandas.
The Beginning of Forced Air Ventilation
The Industrial Revolution brought about new and improved technologies to help people moderate their environment. The early part of the 19th century brought about new water boilers and early central heating systems with metal ducts and pipes. In commercial buildings, heating was done through these primitive new heating systems; residential heating was done through gravity powered air systems which utilized decorative ceiling and roof grilles.
In the mid-19th century, the power driven fan was born and the forced air cooling system really took off. And the trend of cavity walls also meant better insulation, so people were able to stay warmer with less. However, buildings were still not very tight; just like in the 18th century, homes would contract and expand with the changing seasons and that created cracks and holes in the walls and ceiling which had to be patched regularly. However, the advent of gas and oil furnaces along with an improvement in cooling via good verandas, porches and high ceilings meant that people were on their way to living more comfortably in even the most inhospitable climates.
A More Modern Look
Into the 20th century, we see more modern fixtures in heating and cooling. The oil and gas furnaces which had early beginnings in the 19th century were improved upon and made more readily accessible. Forced air heating meant that architecture didn’t have to utilize old building methods anymore and could go off in different directions. It was in the mid 20th century that we saw the combination heating and cooling units and in the last quarter of the millennium, a push for more energy efficient products. And yet there is still a weight given over to the idea of using shading on the east and west, porches and skylights as a way to ventilate and circulate the air better without relying wholly on mechanical systems, just like we did over two hundred years ago.
So the next time you’re on your porch having a drink and looking out at the world, consider how much work that piece of your home is doing to moderate the temperature and how much history has gone into such simple parts of your home. It’s pretty cool!
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Keywords: Calgary heating, history behind heating, air conditioner, Caulking, Brick, Radiate heat, Moderate temperature