Have you ever wondered who created the furnace and wished you could say thank you for their hard work to keep you warm? If you are thinking of an old man who had a lot of time on his hands, you would be absolutely incorrect! It was 1919, and Alice Parker from Morristown, New Jersey dreamed of an idea for the very first gas furnace. Before that moment, there had been no central heating system created. At that time, homes were heated by individual fireplaces that had to be maintained constantly, day and night. Additionally, in order to stay warm, you had stay very close to the fireplace itself, which was impracticable, especially at night.
Due to these frustrations and the problems associated with the inconsistent heat, Alice designed and patented a design for a single-source, gas- fired furnace. Her original designs also showed the furnaces attached to an air duct which would lead into a single room. She included in these, adjustable vents, allowing the homeowner to adjust how much heat entered the room.
Alice’s designs were officially patented on December 23, 1919. She was one of the first African-American women to receive a patent. While her designs were never implemented, they gave us the very first conception of central heating. Without her design and patent, we may have never developed forced-air furnaces or the thermostat, both of which we enjoy today.
We have come so far from her first designs. Today’s modern furnaces are impressive with being high-efficiency, having variable speed and keeping lower costs for heat. We can truly be thankful for her contributions to modern furnaces. Otherwise, we would still be chopping wood out back and sleeping by our fireplaces.