Since the dawn of time, humans have needed to protect themselves from the elements and had a desire to make that protection as warm and comfortable as possible. So how did early man heat his home? Initially, there was only a fireplace for everyone to gather round which would have heated one space very well but wouldn’t have extended very far. It was also a bit on the dangerous side, with the risk of fire spreading, deadly fumes and a need for good ventilation. Let’s take a look at the history of heating homes.

It was the Romans who were credited with inventing the first central heating system. Hot air was channeled through pipes from a furnace. These pipes were placed behind walls and underneath floors. Early Muslim architects also had ingenious ways of constructed pipes under floors to heat up an entire building. When the Romans decided they’d had enough of our terrible weather, we were left to our own devices for a long time and many of the villas were left to ruin while we returned to using wood and manure for heating.  We did improve our insulation by filling walls with wattle and daub but not much happened in our quest for comfort for quite some time.

Around the 1800’s, somebody remembered about the benefits of a central heating system and this is where the history picks up again. An inventor called William Strutt designed a new mill in Derby which featured a hot air furnace. A large stove heated up air brought in from outside via an underground passage. The heated air was then sent through the building via large central ducts. He went on to design heating systems for hospitals that were healthier in that they allowed people to breath fresh, heated air while contaminated air was removed. These systems were still only available for the wealthy, who began to adopt the systems.

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The beauty and elegance of Victorian and Edwardian homes was reflected in their radiators. Cast iron radiators included intricate, scrolled detailing in the iron casting process of the heater. Central heating continued to evolve which is just as well as the cast iron radiators of 1930’s Britain held 25 litres of water and weighed a staggering 80 kg. By the 1960’s, these figures had halved and by the 1980’s a radiator held about 7 litres and weighed 30 kg. Radiators became a bit bland after their Victorian heyday, made from pressed steel sheets which were more about utility than style. Which might explain the current trend for unique, interesting and traditional column radiators, designer radiators or heated towel rails for example. For Aluminium Radiators, visit

The radiator was heated by water that’s been through a boiler. These days, there are different ways in which to heat the water such as solar panels and ground source heat pumps. Some people still use the material that cavemen used, wood and of course gas, electricity, coal and oil to heat our homes. I wonder how we will be heating our homes a thousand years from now?

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