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Hypocaust structure used to heat water in Roman baths.

Heating: A Quirky and Interesting History

Heating: A Quirky and Interesting History

Ever since man first discovered the benefits of fire for heating and cooking, we’ve been improving on it little by little, until we now have super-efficient climate control that ensures our homes and businesses are the perfect temperature all year round. 

We’ve come a long way since the clan gathered around a central hearth to tell stories, cosy up and keep the man-eating creatures at bay, so here’s a brief history of heating to make you glad you were born into this modern age. 

Hypocaust Structure Used to Heat Water in Roman Baths.

The Romans

Over 2000 years ago the Romans got tired of wood fires and used their inventiveness to improve their heating options. 

They invented the first central heating system called a hypocaust. It sent heat from a furnace through the walls and floors and was also used to heat the famous Roman baths. 

We’ve since perfected the system somewhat but the principles remain the same. 

From Wood to Coal

Wood fired central heating was used to great effect through the ages until coal was discovered in the late 1600s when heating became mostly coal-fired and metal stoves and heaters were invented. 

Around 1745 the idea of steam heating came about. By this time commercial coal mining was well underway and it was the preferred fuel to use in many areas. Fire was still the most common method of heating. 

By the beginning of the 19th century the Roman hypocaust idea was resurrected with effective but inconsistent results. 

Gas and Oil

Gas stoves and heating were introduced around the same time, and steel furnaces and free-standing cast iron boilers were being used. 

By now heating was common place and all it needed was better control systems that could be adjusted to suit. 

In the 1800s the English and the Americans invented the first thermostats and the modern heater was born. 


The first electric heaters used light bulbs to create heat and General Electric created heaters using long glass bulbs. Incidentally, General Electric was the result of the merger of two other companies, one of which was founded by Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. 

After World War II electric radiators and oil-filled heaters became widely used and we learned the hard way about electrical safety and placing appropriate guards over heating elements. 

Since then, heating has developed exponentially and we’re now focused on creating sustainable and energy efficient heating using gas, electricity and solar power. 

Heating and Air Conditioning Service Melbourne

Efficient Pure Plumbing is your specialist for heating and cooling systems for your home or business. With over 20 years of experience, we offer a full range of services with a 6-year new installation guarantee and we’ll beat any written quote on installation and repairs. 

We’re experts in all the major brands including Daikin, Braemar, Breezair, Bonaire, Mitsubishi and ActronAir, and we’re the highest rated company for customer service in Victoria. 

Give us a call on +61 3 9792 3261, contact us online, or email us at info@heatingcoolingsystems.com.au for more information, professional advice or a free no obligation quote on all your heating and cooling requirements.