Well before the time of the Romans, we in the UK were a rather uncivilised and disorganised lot apparently, especially when it came to heating our homes [for homes read caves, huts etc]. Romans brought concepts like sewer systems, road building, architecture and probably grape vines! Before this, we all just gathered around a fire on the floor, so chilblains, burns and scorch marks must have been rife. Wood served as the fuel for these fires and for the most part did a good job, although trying to keep it dry must have been a bit of a pain.
Once the Romans arrived [think it was a Tuesday] they conquered us pretty quickly, we were probably trying to light the fire or something. Their enforced leadership was probably a good thing, as they passed on to us their skills including designing and building along with many other talents.
It can't have escaped the Romans, that it can get a bit nippy here, especially with all those bare legs, so heating was definitely on the agenda. They were clever old things however, and one of their innovations was an early form of central heating called Hypocaust [hypocaustum literally means 'burning underneath' in Latin]. They used a type of heat recovery system where they heated a hollow wall or false floor, which then transferred heat to the space above or adjacent to it. Roman baths and steam houses were used for this. This not only kept everybody warm, but also clean, as baths were suddenly a pleasure rather than an ordeal. It must have been a little easier on the nose too!
In the 19th Century, William Strutt from Derby, came up with a mill design that used a hot air furnace, creating heat by converting air emanating from a large underground passage. Later he worked with engineer Charles Sylvester to design Derby’s Royal Infirmary. This breakthrough technology led to many other improvements with regards to heating hospitals and other large public buildings. The systems featured toilets which were self cleaning and air refreshing, while removing stale, contaminated air. Unfortunately the average home or hovel, couldn't afford anything as grand as this, although the more well off used this type of principle to heat their homes.
But bear with us, because In 1857 a Russian businessman Franz San Galli, produced a usable heating system which would evolve into the modern central heating set up. Meanwhile Joe public continued to use wood or coal open fires to get warm or cook with, usually with some kind of unsophisticated chimney system. When the paraffin heater was invented in the late 1800's, it was portable, hoorah, but many people could not afford the paraffin, boo!
Electric fires appeared in America in 1908 and soon after over here. New designs meant that gradually central heating became more appropriate for domestic use. Warmth at last! These days we are able to heat our homes in a variety of ways, and several using renewable energy sources like solar panels and air source heat pumps. We now have a choice of electricity, gas, coal, wood and oil to keep our homes warm, some of which are more expensive than others.
Home heating oil is of course a popular option in places like Drumaness, Newtownards and Killinchy, Northern Ireland especially lately due to its extremely affordable prices. It performs like a dream, and can be ordered online, and delivered in no time from Strangford Fuels. The only trouble is, if we are lovely and toastie warm now and don't have to worry about the weather, what are we going to talk about?