back to homepage

Tag: Hypocaust

Do as the Romans Do – A History of Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is viewed by many as a modern day invention, however, its systems were first installed in the UK in the 1960’s, but jump back 2000 years ago to the Roman period for when the concept of having warm floors to heat an area was first devised.  Unlike today where underfloor heating is an affordable and cost effective way to heat your home, only the wealthiest of people living in Roman villas would have been lucky enough to stay warm via this method of heating but the systems were also very popular in public buildings such as the famous Roman baths in the colder regions of the Roman Empire.

Romaine_Villa_hypocauste-radiant-floorAs more commonly used heating methods such as fireplaces were both inefficient and dangerous, as they carried the risk of fire and smoke inhalation, a new method was created. This was called a hypocaust which originates from the Ancient Greek meaning of heating from below and was the original technology for heating a room by using hot air. Pillars would be used to raise the floor from the ground before tiles and concrete would be added. A furnace would then be situated at the bottom of one corner of the room.  Hot air and steam created by the furnace would travel through the gaps in the floor in order to produce the hot air needed to warm the floor and walls with heat passing into the surrounding rooms.  The heat would then escape through a flue in the roof and walls which were often made with brick with two horizontal holes through them.  Unlike today, where you can operate your heating by using your smartphone, the furnace would have needed constant attention to feed fuel into the fire and remove the ashes.  This would have been done by a household worker which is why only the richest could afford such a labour intensive method of heating.  This system allowed safe and comfortable living and rooms requiring more heat would have been located closer to the furnace.

In comparison to the underfloor heating available today which are advanced, energy efficient and easy to operate, they latex floorhave evolved into two different types of system which are electric and water.  Both systems result in beaming heat rising from the floor level which is just the same as the Romans original principles.  Today underfloor heating is ranked as one of the most efficient methods of heating a property with its popularity soaring.  It can be found in places such as hotels, football dug outs and even in dog kennels! But we owe all of this luxury to the Romans.  So now instead of finding a suitable household worker to tend to your furnace, you can focus on enjoying the comfort of your new heating system with a cuppa. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and install underfloor heating in your home today!