One of the essential human needs in life is for warmth when the weather is cold.
Heating our homes and work places one way or another is the subject of this section of the website where I'll be looking at the many different methods of achieving a warmer interior climate than the outside dictates.
As with all warm blooded creatures, we humans need to maintain a steady body temperature whatever the outside is throwing at us. When we are facing the elements, we are able to wrap our bodies in many layers of thermal clothing to do this, but when we are inside our dwellings or places of work, we discard these outer layers of clothes and prefer to be comfortable by being warmed by artificial means.
Heat by Fire
Before the advent of modern heating methods, early human families were able to provide their homes with warmth by building fires in specially constructed hearths. These allowed the heat to circulate inside the dwelling while the noxious smoke was allowed to escape to the outside via a chimney.
Fuel for these fires came from trees and other woody plant stems initially, then dried peat and later, coal. The only problem with this method of heating was that in highly built-up areas such as large towns or cities where there were a lot of buildings burning fires, the local atmosphere became polluted with the compounds in that smoke.
Smokeless fuels were derived from coal as coke, but while the main problem of smog was reduced, the airborne pollutants remained. Later advances saw the creation of efficient burning furnaces that converted much more of the fuel into heat with less waste gases.
Old style fireplaces were being closed up to make way for central heating systems that relied on a central combustion chamber, which was either a solid fuel burning furnace or a gas or oil burner that heated water and pumped it around radiators in the rooms of the building. This is a much more efficient way of providing a better regulated temperature indoors with lower emissions and a higher efficiency rating.
With fuel costs soaring, ever more efficient ways to provide the essential warmth we require and need are being sought. Manufacturers are constantly refining their heating devices to use less fuel or power yet still provide sufficient thermal output to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home or work space.
Environmentally Sound Methods
With ever greater emphasis being placed on the need for more environmentally friendly ways of providing temperature regulation for buildings, technology is continually advancing in this area. At the same time, many are revisiting more traditional and natural methods of maintaining the interior temperature levels.
Insulating building has been at the forefront of this push into lowering the cost of interior climate control both financially and environmentally. Ever more efficiently rated insulation methods are being used in new buildings as well as being retro-fitted to older ones.
The use of external shading during hot weather helps to keep a building cooler during the hot period of the year, but in the cold moths, other ways of using natural solutions are being rediscovered. These include adding thermal barriers to walls and roof spaces, using natural wind breaks to reduce the chill factor of wind on external walls etc.
To provide you with more useful and factual information on the many different ways of providing heat to homes, offices and other indoor workplaces while helping to maintain the interior climate more effectively and efficiently, I am putting together a series of detailed articles focusing on each of these methods. You'll find the titles above (in the navigation bar):