History of Home Heating Trends

Colorado Leading the Way for Energy Efficient Gas Heat

DALCO Heating Air & Conditioning serving Denver, CO since 1981

It’s a nice feeling coming home to the soft hum of a well-working furnace pushing warm air out through your vents. If you are like most Coloradans, you have a gas furnace that is working efficiently to keep your home comfortable no matter how frigid it gets outside. This wonderful invention of furnaces is a luxury we have gotten used to. But we’ve not always had this great convenience.

We have seen how much home heating has changed. Our team at DALCO Heating & Air Conditioning has been installing heating systems to homes across the Denver area for nearly 40 years! We have seen how changes in the HVAC industry have significantly improved life for homeowners to enjoy such reliable and consistent heat.

History of Heating Trends in Denver and Across America

Life was very different in the United States a century ago. From cars to sources of entertainment, our great-grandparents lived very different lifestyles. How they heated their homes was also quite different.

While things have dramatically changed and everyday life has become much more convenient for many of us, the situation is not the same everywhere. How we heat our homes in and around Denver is not the same way many people do in the south or on the coasts. It’s amazing to see how home heating trends changed over the decades and how they continue to change differently in different parts of the country.

Coal & Wood Heat

Old wood burning fireplace to heat a home

Back in the 1940s, 3 out of 4 homes was heated by coal or wood, with most of that being from wood. But here in Colorado, it was a very different story. Wood was not a popular energy source for heat. Only 6% of Coloradans used wood. Instead, nearly every home was getting heat from coal or coke. While about 55% of homes across the country were heated by coal or coke, here in Colorado at least 8 out of every 10 homes used it.

This source of heat comes with a host of problems and difficulties. So by the turn of the century, less than 2% of all American homes were still using coal or wood for heat. That’s right about the same statistic for Colorado, too. The state using this energy source the most is Vermont where about 1 in 10 homes use wood.

Heating from wood burning did make somewhat of a comeback. In the 1990s there was an increase of people converting their home’s heating source to one that used wood. Since then though, the popularity of wood-heating has since decreased.

Kerosene & Fuel Oil

Here is where we really see a difference in Colorado from the rest of the country. Colorado did not rely on kerosene or fuel oil nearly as much as most other states did. 1 in 10 homes across the country used this heat source back in the 40s. But in Colorado, it accounted for only about 2 in 100 homes.

This source of heat became less popular, especially in the front range. Today it has all but disappeared from homes here. By 2000, only 2 homes in a thousand in Colorado use kerosene or fuel oil for heat.

Things are quite different in the northeast. In Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island you will see that most of those homes are heated with oil.

Heating Trivia “In Maine, what percentage of homes are heated with kerosene or fuel oil?”

Electric Heat

It is common for homes today to use electric furnaces in heating heat their homes. This became an option thanks largely to Thomas Edison. His invention of the lightbulb in the late 19th century was used in the earliest electric heaters.

But it wasn’t quick to catch on. Electricity was so infrequently used as a heat source in the 1940s that it was not even recorded in data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. In the 1970s, electric heat still had not really grown in popularity with only 1 in 12 homes using it.

The popularity of using electricity for heat did rise in the following decades. According to the 1990 Census, a quarter of homes across the country had electric heat. Now a third of all homes across the country are heated by electricity. In Colorado, it’s about half that much.

Heating Trivia ”Which state has the highest percentage of homes using electric heat today?”

History of Heating with Gas

Natural Gas meter, a main source of heating energy in Colorado

The most common way homes are heated across America today is with gas. Gas heat has an interesting history in our country. It came about thanks to work done 100 years ago when inventor Alice H. Parker patented the first gas fired furnace.

By the 1940s, at least 1 in 10 homes across America used gas to heat their homes. It was only a bit less common among Colorado homes at that time. But that completely changed just one decade later.

While only 7.5% of Coloradans used gas for heat in the 40s, by the 1950s, nearly half of all homes in our state were using natural gas. Compare this to the national average where only about a quarter of all homes had it.

One state really was an early leader in embracing gas heat. By 1950, 4 out of 5 homes in California were relying on utility gas.

Fast forward to the end of the 20th century. In 2000, half of all homes across the country got its heat from a gas. But in Colorado, an amazing 75% of homes are heated with gas.

Our state is among several that don’t fit the national average. But only 3 states, Illinois, Michigan and Utah, relying upon gas heat more than we do here in Colorado.

Converting to Natural Gas

As the statistics show, people across the country have been greatly converting to gas heat over the decades. And there’s a good reason why. Using natural gas can reduce your monthly heating bill. Gas is typically a cheaper source of energy than electricity. Homeowners who convert their electric system to a gas one can expect to see lower energy bills. Having a system that is more energy efficient also equals a smaller environmental footprint.

Is natural gas an option for you? Natural gas has not been an option for many homeowners, but that may have changed. Do your neighbors have gas heat? If so, it is likely that you can, too. You can try calling your local utility company to check on possible gas availability for your home. And while you’re at it, ask them about any potential rebates they may offer for converting to gas heat. Not all areas provide access to natural gas, but many areas are serviced by Xcel Energy, the metro area’s primary provider of electricity and natural gas.

Wondering about switching from electric to gas or vice versa? Contact us at DALCO Heating & Air Conditioning. We are professional HVAC installers serving the larger Denver, CO community.

Heating Trivia “In 2000, nearly half of all homes in which state had no heating source?”

Heating Today & Future Trends

DALCO furnace installer in Denver, CO home

There have never been more and better options for heating your home. You can choose from a variety of heaters or furnaces that use traditional energy but do it in an energy-efficient way. Beyond gas and electric furnaces, there are new options available. Homeowners are discovering that new types of heating and cooling devices are solving our home comfort problems.

Heat Pumps are a new type of system now available to homeowners. Ductless mini split systems are another new system to consider. Both of these new HVAC systems is that they provide the heating AND cooling of your home. They can replace space heaters and window air conditioning units.

DALCO Heating & Air Conditioning provides professional installation, maintenance and repair for heat pumps and mini split systems in the Denver area. Call us today at 303-979-7541 to learn how these systems work and if they are right for your home. Call us or contact us online for a free estimate.


  1. 80.2% of all homes in Maine are heated with a fuel oil. That is 4 out of 5 homes!
  2. At 87.2%, Florida has the highest percentage of homes with electric heat. The next closest state is South Carolina with 58.4%.
  3. Nearly half of all homes in Hawaii (44.3%) have no heating source.

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