Heating through the ages

Heating through the ages

…and how the German firm Vaillant shaped the way we heat our homes.

Image Source: Vaillant

Historically for the poor, and ordinary working people, in the UK heating in the home was at best basic and at worst almost non-existent until the start of the 20th Century.

It wasn’t until the 17th Century that the majority of ordinary homes had even a chimney and by the beginning of the 19th Century most were still cooking on, and getting their warmth from, open fires.

Gradually, throughout the century, things began to improve, following the invention of the iron range, many with a boiler behind the coal fire where water was heated.

But right up to the early 20th Century, most ordinary families would spend most of their time in the “back room”, or kitchen, where the coal-fired iron range provided warmth as well as cooking facilities.

As gas cookers became more common, family use of the home began to change, with the differentiation into a kitchen and a living room, usually heated by a coal fire, although electric fires started to become available after the 1930s.

By the mid-1950s, however, the thick, annual winter “pea soup fogs” had become so widespread and common that the Government passed the first Clean Air Act, which included the introduction of “smoke control areas” in some towns and cities in which only smokeless fuels could be burned.

Gradually, as more homes became connected to mains electricity and gas supplies, the options for heating became wider.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that central heating started to become more widely available.

An innovative company leading the way in developing home heating

More than 140 years ago, a German company was started by a 23 year-old tailor’s son as a coppersmith and pump manufacturer. 

That company was Vaillant, which has earned its place as an innovator in home heating systems ever since and the family-owned company now has divisions in more than 20 countries, including the UK and Ireland. It develops and manufactures its products and services at sites in the United Kingdom as well as Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Turkey and China.

In 1894 it patented the first gas bath boiler ‘closed system’, which allowed water to be in a hygienic way for the first time, without the combustion gases condensing into the water.

By the early 1900s Vaillant had become a world leader in a wall-hung version of the boiler geyser and in 1924 the company developed the first ever central heating boiler, allowing a whole house to be heated via radiators from one central point.

In 1967, they launched the world’s first Combi boiler – the Vaillant Combi-Geyser VCW20.

140 years later the company is still in the forefront of innovation, having developed remote monitoring and control of boilers, heat pumps and solar heating systems.

Most recently, the company has concentrated on developing heating systems using renewable energy.

There are examples of the Vaillant product development and “historic” advertising here.

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