These days, many modern conveniences make weather a minor factor in our lives. It no longer matters much whether the temperature outside is warm or cold as we can easily control the environment in our homes. We only push a button to raise or lower the temperature of our dwellings. These modern conveniences enable our families to stay at a comfortable temperature during every season of the year.
Home Heating Before Central HVAC Systems Existed
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Today it has become so easy to control the temperature inside our home that we often forget that we are fortunate in comparison to previous generations. We only focus on these conveniences when the power goes out, we run out of heating oil, or when the HVAC system stops working. Then, we are directly affected by the force of the environment outdoors.
Because air conditioning and home heating systems have been a relatively recent invention, it is interesting to learn more about how people kept warm in their homes before the development of central heating. Here, we will examine some previous ways that were used to stay comfortable during the winter.
Home Design Affects Heat Loss
In the past, people tried a variety of heating methods to stay warm. Using a system of trial and error, eventually, the design of homes could effectively use passive heating systems. Houses were often quite small so that it could contain the heat. Many homes were a single room dwelling of a small size. Also, ceilings tended to be low so that rising warm air would not escape.
Homes in the past tended to have few windows. The windows that they did have were usually small. This way, the heat would not escape through the window. Windows generally faced south to gain the benefit of the sun shining brightly in the day. People made walls out of mud, straw, rocks, or bricks. These thick walls would protect the house from heat in the day and would provide warmth at a steady rate after the sun went down.
In places that had extreme seasonal changes, homes would have overhangs. These would give ample shade in summer when the sun was very hot and would keep the heat in during the winter for warmth. In some homes, trellises were used to help regulate extremes of temperature. Many homes today still employ these design elements.
Often homes in the past would have fireplaces around which the family would gather to stay warm. In many cases, they built the fireplace in the living room of the home. Long before people had television, families, friends, and neighbors would gather around the fire to share stories and do crafts to entertain each other.
Improved Comfort With Portable Heating Devices
Our ancestors used a lot of ingenious devices in their quest to stay warm. For example, they used thick fabrics to make curtains that would reduce drafts around windows. At night when sleeping, they used various quilts and comforters to keep their bodies warm. If they got chilly, they would add more layers.
They often used special devices to warm their beds and feet. A pan containing heated stones at the end of a long handle was used as a bed warmer. The bed warmer was placed under the bed to keep it warm all night. A foot warmer was a portable box made from tin that they would fill with heated rocks. These were often used by people when traveling by wagon. Also, they were used to warm the feet during church services.
Soapstone might be used to keep a person warm. If a person felt chilly, they would place the soapstone near a fire. Once it was warmed up, the person would wrap the stone in a blanket and hold it near their body to feel the warmth. A small stone would hold less heat than a large stone, but it would be easier to carry. Often these could be used to keep the bed warm as well.
Previous generations did not have modern conveniences upon which they could rely, but they used clever home designs and various heating devices and strategies to stay warm.
If you wish to have a heating system you can rely on to be efficient and create comfort in your home, you should have it maintained once a year. When your system requires repairs, look for an HVAC company with a good reputation.
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