Home Heating Systems: A History Lesson

Aren’t we lucky to be able to keep the frigid Colorado winter temperatures outside and keep the inside of our homes so nice, warm, and cozy? For so many of us, we take that for granted. We know that if we push the up arrow on our thermostat, our house gets warmer, and we don’t give it another thought. But how did that come about? Our ancestors didn’t always have the luxury of an automatic in-home heating system. Let’s go back in time to thank those who gave us such warm comfort!

Millions of years ago: The first humans on this planet created a campfire. The campfires were then brought into their living space in an effort to heat their home.
2500BC: Ancient Greeks were found to have been the first to develop central heating using radiant heat by way of the ground. There has also been evidence that the Roman Empire used hypocaust furnaces throughout their structures. These ancient furnaces would filter warm air through hollow spaces under the floor.
1200AD: The first types of chimneys appeared around this time created and used by Cistercian monks in Europe.
1624: Thanks to French architect Louis Savot, the use of a raised grate underneath firewood allowed the heat to circulate within the fireplace. It would draw the cool air in through the grates and fuel the fire.
1742: Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin Stove. This cast iron furnace was designed to produce more heat and less smoke than an open fireplace. The cast-iron would also absorb and radiate heat for a longer period of time.
1880: Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, which in itself, creates heat.
1885: Professor Warren Johnson invented the first electric thermostat resulting in the Johnson Electric Service Company.
1905: American metallurgist Albert Marsh and inventor and entrepreneur William Hoskins patented the alloy chromel (known as nichrome today), which was over 300 times stronger than other available alloys. This durable and high resistance wire was needed in order for the electric heater to work. (This is the heating element used in a toaster).This invention dubbed Marsh as the “father of the electrical heating industry.”
1919: Alice H. Parker received the first patent for inventing the central heating system using natural gas. Her design allowed cool air to be drawn into the furnace, transmitted through a heat exchanger which then delivered the heat to individual rooms through ducts.
1935: Scientists invented a forced convection wall heater which used a coal furnace and an electric fan, to push heat through ducts.
1943: George Löf designed a flat-plate solar heating unit and installed it on the roof of his house in Boulder, Colorado.
1948: Robert C. Webber created the first electric heat pump by reusing the wasted boiling water from his deep freezer.
2017: Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research developed a technology that allows solar energy from the summer to be stored in the form of chemical energy to be used in the winter. It’s still a prototype but could be a way of the future.
2019: Today we are blessed to have an assortment of ways to heat our house, but the majority of Americans use a central furnace to provide whole-house heat.

Many of our modern day conveniences wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t for all the inventors of times past. We can enjoy warm and comfortable homes, even in the freezing cold temperatures of winter. We can keep your furnace up and running to keep you warm. Heating systems are one of the biggest utility expenses for Colorado homes on the Western Slope. We can identify any inefficiencies, as well as provide you with options for a new high-efficiency system if necessary.


Sometimes blessings are curses because even today our furnaces need to be maintained, repaired, and replaced as they age or break. If you experience an issue with your furnace give SAM’s a call and we’ll send a professional technician to evaluate the issue. In the meantime, jot down our phone number (970) 249-6790 and then settle in your comfy clothes and appreciate the history of how convenient warming your house is.

Warning Signs Your Furnace May Need Replaced

You have an old furnace.
If it’s working great, then you probably need not worry, but if it’s more than 15 years old and it has issues, there is a high probability that it needs replaced. The average lifespan of a furnace is 16-20 years. Also, older furnaces may be out of date when it comes to conserving energy. Replacing your current furnace with a newer model can save you money on your heating and electric bills.

Your energy bills and furnace repairs have increased.
As your furnace ages, repairs are normal.* A slight increase in your bills is to be expected as it will have to work harder the older it gets — but if there is a substantial difference in your bills, and the repairs are constant — you may need to replace your furnace.

*A good rule of thumb when it comes to furnace repairs is that if it costs 50% or more the cost of a new furnace, you should replace it.

A loud noise consistently comes from your furnace.
Furnaces aren’t always quiet. You should know when it kicks on, but if you hear a new sound AND your furnace is pretty old, it might need replaced. Some problem sounds include squeaking, squealing, banging, rattling, hissing, clicking, popping, or other strange noises. Also, it helps to know when your furnace blower runs. If it is constantly running, that is a key indicator that something is wrong.

The temperature isn’t the same throughout the house.
Aging furnaces lose their capacity to heat your home effectively, but significant changes from room to room is more than likely a problem. A repair might be all you need, but that will more than likely only be a temporary fix.

Your furnace won’t stay on.
This could just be some faulty wiring but is something that definitely needs attention. If this is a constant problem, your furnace might need to be replaced.

Your pilot light isn’t a constant blue color.
The burner on gas heating systems should be a bright blue color. If it’s flickering or the flame is a yellowish color, this is an indication that the gas isn’t burning completely. It could also be an indicator that your furnace is producing a higher-than-normal level of carbon monoxide.

Your family keeps getting sick.
Carbon monoxide may be the reason. If you ever suspect carbon monoxide* in your home, open your windows and get outside, then call either the fire department or a local HVAC company to have your home inspected. Carbon monoxide symptoms include; headache, nausea, feeling lightheaded, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness. If your furnace is the cause of carbon monoxide, it is time to replace the unit.

*We highly recommend installing CO alarms in your house in an effort to alert you from any carbon monoxide that may enter your home.


Any heating company will tell you that furnaces need to be maintained. You can’t just get a new furnace or use the one that’s already in your home and assume it doesn’t need a tune-up every now and then; which includes an annual cleaning and replacing minor things as they happen. If your furnace needs a repair here and there, that is normal and we suggest keeping a log for your furnace with dates of incidents that can be referred back to when a certified technician does come to look at it.

If you encounter any of these problems, SAM’s is here to help. We are located in Montrose, CO and offer free service calls AND we accept competitor’s coupons. SAM’s has NATE-Certified Technicians so you know you will receive the best service. For your convenience we are available 24/7. Keep our number handy: 970-249-6790.

SAM’S Heating  & Air Conditioning specializes in all HVAC-related services. Experience The Difference!

2726 Tender Drive, Montrose, CO
(970) 249-6790

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Areas We Service

Our NATE Certified Technicians are happy to serve Montrose, CO and our neighbors in Grand Junction, Clifton, Mesa, Whitewater,  Delta, Olathe, Crawford, Austin, Cedaredge, Fruita, Palisade, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Orchard City, Ridgway, Colona, Ouray, Cory, Eckert, and Lazear.