When prehistoric man first discovered fire it would have had a profound effect upon his life, as until then the sun was the only source of heat. Not only did he now have light, but he also had a way of keeping himself and his family warm.
Around 42000 BCE Neanderthals built hearths in their homes to control their fires and by 3000 BCE braziers had been invented. In 1000BCE North Koreans had invented a form of underfloor heating which was eventually copied by the Greeks and Romans. By the 6th century this type of heating had been replaced in favour of hearths again. The first chimneys appeared around the 12th century, definitely a much better idea than just a hole in the roof.
The introduction of coal as a fuel for the home in the 16th century led to multiple flues and fireplaces. More efficient stoves followed, then in the 1850’s radiators first appeared in Russia, probably a very welcome invention given their winters! Edison made the first electric heater in 1883, a vast improvement on the smoke and soot of a coal fire.
With the rising cost of fossil fuels and electrcity, scientists developed devices which worked on solar energy and came up with the idea of panels to heat domestic water. We may think of this as a very recent invention, given how popular solar panels have become in recent years, but this was actually patented in the USA in 1896!
By the 1990’s it was becoming obvious that we needed to various heating technologies that could save money and also reduce CO2 emmissions. Ultra low-energy buildings appeared in Germany, paving the way for more efficient systems for the home market. With costs rising every year scientists must look at ways of economically improving our home heating systems.