Some ofThe News’ contractor consultants put their heads together and let us know their picks for the most historic moments in the last 75 years of heating — or at least the ones they could remember. Since no members of the panel have been around for 75 years, they talked about important developments in their own lifetimes.

Scott Getzschman of Getzschman Heating & Sheet Metal/Service Experts, Fremont, NE, said that energy prices have played a big role in our industry’s history.

“I believe the largest impact would have been in the early 80s involving the energy crunch,” he said. “There was more innovative equipment introduced to the industry at that time than any other time.

“Most manufacturers introduced a 90%-efficient natural gas furnace, some more conventional than others. Ignition controls changed and they became more efficient and safer.

“This time in history provided a catalyst of ideas that changed the standing pilot furnace and the entire fuel industry forever.”

Technological Innovations

Hank Bloom of Environmental Conditioning Systems, Mentor, OH, agreed with the importance of controls. “Being able to remotely control, adjust, and troubleshoot hvac systems from a modem is very important,” he said. “CFC phaseouts also come to mind as an important event.”

“In my opinion, the most significant event involving mechanical heating was the application of air movement devices, e.g. blowers,” said Aaron York of Aaron York’s Quality A/C, Indianapolis, IN. “Blowers have enhanced comfort, made our environments cleaner and healthier by the application of phenomenal filtering devices, made whole-house humidification possible, made small ducts practical, and allowed furnaces to become smaller, less expensive, and available to every home.

“Without blowers there would be no cooling.”

“The use of mechanical heating systems spans more than my lifetime,” joked Roger Grochmal of Atlas Air/ClimateCare, Miss-issauga, ON, Canada. “I vaguely remember shoveling coal into a furnace as a young kid.

“However, it seems to me that the ability to meter the flow of fuel (oil or gas) in a combustion process and control the resulting output (temperature) with a thermostat — all without human intervention — seems like a big step to me. All we have really done since is refine the technology.”

Two Votes For Heat Pumps

Two consultants placed heat pumps at the top of the most significant developments in the last 75 years of heating.

“The development of the heat pump in the mid-1950s and the later refinement of heat pump technology (ability to heat at colder outdoor temps) in the late 1970s has had a tremendous impact on the heating industry here in the South,” said Harry Friedman of N&M Air Conditioning/Blue Dot in Sarasota, FL.

Steve Miles of Jerry Kelly Heating & Cooling, St. Charles, MO, added, “The most significant event? Hmmm, that’s a toughie.

“My choice would be the heat pump — one of the most efficient ways to extract heat from the environment. That would be closely followed by zoning — regulating comfort to suit the use of space. After that I would say digital controls for more accurate control of comfort were an important development.”

Publication date: 11/12/2001