Keeping Your Feet Warm

By: Anna Stenning

A warm fireplace and a cosy sofa are always nice to curl up to with a hot beverage in your hand (maybe even a glass of red wine) during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a nice fireplace and most people have central heating in their houses so the warmth is there but not the fireplace. Common forms of effective heating usually come in the form of water radiators, electric heating or underfloor heating.

Underfloor heating is an efficient form of circulating heat in a building, however the problems with some central heating is that there is a lot of heat lost in single rooms that do not need heating. Water and geothermal heating are the most energy efficient form of central heating. Geothermal heating has been used since the Roman times.

Geothermal Heating

The Romans began using this as a way to heat buildings and spas, by extracting their sources from hot water and hot steam that is near the earth's core. This is still extant in places such as Reykjavik, Iceland and Boise, Idaho, USA (known as District Geothermal heating). This type of heating has its advantages; the fuel used is very clean and will not harm the environment. It is also very sustainable and the hot water used is restored into the ground to create more steam.

Korean Ondol

Ancient Korea was also the pioneers of underfloor heating, which is used for millennia in Korea and is thought to have dated as far back as the Koguryo or Three Kingdoms of 37 BC - 668 AD. Excess heat from the stove was used to warm up homes; this was located below floor level. This was known as the Ondol system.

The system worked from transporting heat from the kitchen to other rooms in the house, underground flues. Depending upon the designing and structure of the flues the heat from the floors would stay warm for extended periods of time, ranging between 30 days to upto 3 months. This was an efficient process, as the heat and steam generated from the kitchen during cooking would then be automatically transported around from room to room.

Modern central heating in the West has shown to be less energy efficient and expensive. Researchers have looked into the possibilities of installing energy saving heating, taking into consideration for the cost and health and safety. Fireplaces make a nice feature however, they can risk in carbon monoxide build up, and therefore the fireplace will need to be checked every year.

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