Imagine waking up each day to start a fire in the main rooms of your house instead of a central furnace system. In the early 1900s, life was like that for virtually everyone. Then, in 1919, Alice H. Parker developed one of the first concepts of the home heating system we know today. Her idea conceived of a central control, or thermostat, and the forced air gas furnace system so familiar to us.
Furnace Pioneer: Alice H. Walker
Alice H. Parker was an African-American woman who was born in 1895 in Morristown, New Jersey. She attended Howard University Academy in Washington, D.C. The high school academy was an offshoot of Howard University, which was a common educational practice at the time.
In 1910, Parker graduated from Howard University Academy with honors. It’s said she found her design inspiration in the cold New Jersey winters. She felt there was a more effective method to heat a home than a fireplace, which was often labor-intensive and aggravated breathing conditions.
Her invention eliminated the need to venture outdoors to chop or buy more wood. In addition, it reduced the risk of house fires because fireplaces were no longer needed to burn overnight.
Early Central Furnace Concept
On December 23, 1919, Parker filed her patent for her heating system invention. Her design allowed for cool air to be pulled into the furnace, where it was heated by natural gas combustion.
The warmed air would then be pulled from the heat exchanger through ducts to each room of the house. While Parker was not the first to imagine central heating as a concept, her idea to use natural gas was revolutionary. Previously, heaters used coal or wood.
Influence On Today’s Furnace
Unfortunately, not much is recorded about her life. Regardless, the filing of her patent pre-dates both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Civil Rights Movement.
Because of the many obstacles women and especially women of color faced, her patent for such an influential invention is phenomenal. Today, the majority of homes in the Midwest use natural gas to heat their homes.
According to a survey by the U.S. Energy Information Association, out of 26.4 million homes, 66 percent use natural gas and 77 percent of those homes use a central furnace. We owe Parker a lot.
So, on February 11, or National Inventors Day, thank the hard work by Parker to make gas furnaces a reality.
At Apollo Home, we are always encouraging the next generation of thinkers. We love the conversations within our Apollo Apprenticeship Program between veteran HVAC technicians and new apprentices joining the field.
We strongly believe in education, both for the well-being of our employees and for the customer. Our team is constantly educated to keep up with emerging technologies and the various brands.
When one of our HVAC technicians arrives at your door, he or she is capable of assessing the situation, weighing options and providing you with a complete plan for a resolution specific to your situation.
We’re proud of our team, our trainers and of the tradition we’ve carried for more than 100 years in the Cincinnati area.
Furnace Experts in Greater Cincinnati: Apollo Home
Next time you feel a chill, reach out to us. We’re happy to perform preventative maintenance, a furnace repair or if needed, a furnace replacement. For the most convenience and value, we suggest joining our Apollo Care Plan.
This maintenance agreement includes two tune-ups for your heating and cooling system each year as well as additional benefits like priority scheduling through a VIP phone number. Call us or submit an online form today to schedule a visit from Apollo Home.
"Ernie & Mike did a superb job on my new furnace and A/C installation. Despite having more than a day’s work to do, they came in and stayed until the job was done. They were organized, efficient, and protected the rest of the house well. Got both furnace and A/C installed the same day. Ernie was courteous, informative, and clearly knew his job better than anyone I’ve encountered before. The units look so good guests now get The Tour of our new system. Apollo is clearly not a fly-by-night company. I would recommend them to anyone in need of a new furnace and/or A/C."
- Jerry A.
"I called Apollo because of a water leak I thought I had in our upstairs shower going into the kitchen. Robbie came and assured me everything was fine & looked at all the other plumbing. He ended up changing a few pipes for our washer & clearing a drain. He was very nice & knowledgeable with all my questions. I ended up signing up for the care plan & was very happy with my service."
- Cassandra B.
"The team at Apollo exceeded my expectations. As a business owner, my attention to the details and commitment to providing excellent service is high. From the sales rep. to the installation team, everyone’s performance was outstanding. For example, the installation team went to great lengths to protect our floors, placing floor runners and across the wood floors and up the stairs. They even were spot washing walls upon their departure. I highly recommend this company."
- Randy B.
"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
- Sarah B.
"Apollo is an excellent company. I always receive great service. Alex A. was professional and friendly. He kept me informed during the process of checking my furnace and heat pump to make sure they were working properly. The company makes sure you are notified who is coming and when they are on the way. All my interactions with the company have been wonderful."
- Beverly S.