Central Heat – 350 BC
The Greeks did not have central heat in the same way that we have it today, but they were undoubtedly pioneers in the field of keeping homes warm. The system that was utilized by the ancient Greeks was first found in the Temple of Ephesus in 350 BC. The Ancient Greeks termed this as hypocaust which means “under burnt.”
While the Temple of Ephesus was the earliest building known to have this method of central heating, Vitruvius attributed the invention of central heating to Sergiu Orata in 80 BC. The practice remained in use up through Ancient Rome. In Ancient Rome, it was found in hot baths and public buildings, and in the homes of the very wealthy because of the high cost.
The hypocaust was created by making a structure under the floor of the building. The floor of the building would be raised up on pillars called pilae stacks. These pillars would have a layer of tiles above them which would be covered by a layer of concrete and then the floor tiles used for the building. A furnace would be lit and it would feed hot air and smoke into the space between the ground and floor of the building. The hot air and smoke would then rise through the clay or tile flues that made up the walls of the building before traveling out through outlets in the roof. In this way, the system could also be used to heat multiple floors of a building.
The system was very labor intensive and expensive to maintain. There would be need to have a slave or a laborer to constantly maintain the fire to just the right level for the comfort of the people within the building. There were also designs of bronze ventilators which could be used to regulate the temperature.