Jinny Glover

Written by Jinny Glover

Modified & Updated: 01 Jul 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Museumofglass.org

When it comes to keeping our homes warm and cozy during the colder months, furnaces play a crucial role. These essential heating systems are found in most households and are responsible for ensuring a comfortable indoor environment. However, there is more to furnaces than simply turning up the thermostat. In this article, we will dive into 11 fascinating facts about furnaces that you may not be aware of. From their history and evolution to their energy efficiency and maintenance, these facts will give you a deeper understanding of these heating marvels. So, let’s explore these intriguing furnace facts and gain a new appreciation for the technology behind our cozy homes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Furnaces have a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations like the Romans who used hypocaust systems for heating.
  • Regular maintenance and upgrading to high-efficiency furnaces can save energy, reduce utility bills, and improve indoor air quality.
Table of Contents

Furnaces have been around for centuries.

Furnaces have a long history, dating back to ancient civilizations. The Romans, for example, used hypocaust systems to heat their homes and public baths.

The first modern residential furnace was invented in the 19th century.

In 1885, Alice Parker patented the first furnace that used natural gas as fuel. This marked a significant breakthrough in heating technology.

Furnaces are the most common heating system in North America.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over half of all American homes use a furnace as their primary heating source.

Furnaces can run on various types of fuel.

While natural gas is the most common fuel source for furnaces, they can also be powered by oil, propane, or electricity.

High-efficiency furnaces can help save energy and reduce utility bills.

Newer models of furnaces are designed to be highly efficient, leading to significant energy savings and lower heating costs.

Furnaces require regular maintenance to operate at peak performance.

Annual maintenance, such as cleaning the burners and checking for leaks, is essential to keep your furnace running efficiently and safely.

Furnaces come in different sizes to accommodate various home sizes.

Furnaces are available in different sizes, measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). It’s important to choose a furnace size that matches the square footage of your home.

Furnaces play a crucial role in indoor air quality.

Modern furnaces feature advanced filtration systems that help remove dust, allergens, and other pollutants from the air, improving the indoor air quality.

Furnaces can have single-stage or multi-stage heating capabilities.

Single-stage furnaces have one heat output setting, while multi-stage furnaces provide variable heat outputs, resulting in better temperature control and energy efficiency.

Furnaces can last for 15-20 years with proper maintenance.

With regular maintenance and servicing, a well-maintained furnace can provide reliable heating for up to two decades.

Upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace may qualify you for rebates or tax credits.

In an effort to promote energy efficiency, many utility companies and government agencies offer incentives for homeowners who upgrade to high-efficiency furnaces.


These 11 furnace facts provide insight into the importance of understanding and maintaining your furnace. By having a well-functioning furnace, you can ensure the comfort and safety of your home while also reducing energy costs. Remember to schedule regular maintenance, keep an eye on your furnace’s performance, and address any issues promptly to avoid potential problems down the line. With these facts in mind, you’ll be better equipped to take care of your furnace and enjoy a warm and cozy home all year round.


1. How often should I have my furnace serviced?

It’s recommended to have your furnace serviced at least once a year. Regular maintenance helps ensure the efficiency and proper functioning of your furnace.

2. What can I do to improve the energy efficiency of my furnace?

There are several steps you can take, such as replacing air filters regularly, sealing air leaks, and programming your thermostat. Additionally, consider upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace if your current one is outdated.

3. How long should a furnace typically last?

A well-maintained furnace can last anywhere between 15 to 20 years. However, its lifespan may vary depending on usage, maintenance, and the quality of the furnace.

4. What are the signs that my furnace needs repair?

Common signs include irregular heating, strange noises, frequent cycling on and off, and an increase in energy bills. If you notice any of these issues, it’s best to call a professional HVAC technician for an inspection.

5. Can I perform furnace maintenance myself?

While there are some basic maintenance tasks you can do, such as changing the air filter, it’s generally recommended to have a professional handle more complex maintenance and repairs. They have the expertise and knowledge to ensure your furnace is in optimal condition.

6. Why is it important to have a carbon monoxide detector near my furnace?

Furnaces can produce carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas that can be extremely dangerous if inhaled in high concentrations. Having a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace can alert you to any leaks and help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

7. How can I improve the indoor air quality in my home when using a furnace?

Regularly changing air filters, keeping your home clean, and using a humidifier can help improve indoor air quality. Additionally, consider installing an air purifier or ventilating your home properly.

8. Is it necessary to have a professional install a new furnace?

While some homeowners may attempt to install a furnace themselves, it’s highly recommended to have a professional handle the installation. They have the experience and knowledge to ensure proper installation and avoid any potential safety risks.

9. How can I reduce my heating costs?

You can reduce heating costs by setting your thermostat to a lower temperature, sealing any drafts, insulating your home, and properly maintaining your furnace. Additionally, consider using programmable thermostats and taking advantage of natural sunlight to warm your home.

10. What are the different types of furnaces available?

There are various types of furnaces, including gas, oil, electric, and propane furnaces. Each has its own advantages and considerations, so it’s important to research and choose the one that best fits your needs and resources.

11. Can a furnace impact indoor air quality?

Yes, a poorly maintained furnace or one with a dirty filter can negatively affect indoor air quality. Regular maintenance and replacing air filters can help keep the air clean and reduce allergens and pollutants from circulating in your home.

Furnaces play a vital role in keeping homes comfortable, but there's more to these appliances than meets the eye. If you're curious about the inner workings and history of furnaces, explore our article on Lough Furnace, which offers a unique perspective on this topic. For those interested in industrial applications, our piece on blast furnaces delves into the fascinating world of steel production. And if you're a movie buff, don't miss our article on the film "Out of the Furnace," which showcases the human side of the furnace industry.

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