The diagram shows how the ondol system worked. Traditionally,
the floors were topped with either stone or clay and an impervious layer of
oiled paper. The paper acted as an ancient form of underlay, protecting the
Ondols were used to warm various rooms in early Korean
homes, as their way of life involved eating, sleeping and socialising on the
floor. The system allowed for modern comfort in ancient times, the only
drawback being that the fire was only burned sporadically and couldn’t be left
on without supervision.
The ancient Greeks and Romans developed their own systems
similar to the Koreans, some of which heated their famous baths, whose ruins
still scatter the United Kingdom to this day.
Underfloor heating has come a long way since those days, but
even the ancient Roman systems reportedly ran at a 90% efficiency rate.
Radiator systems, as we know them today, were introduced in
the 1930’s. They heat to a very high temperature to warm rooms to an acceptable
standard, due to the fact they have a small surface area and therefore need to
produce much more heat before the benefits are felt across the entire room.
This leads to a potentially more expensive and less efficient heating solution
than underfloor heating systems, where the heat is spread evenly across the
floor of the room.
In addition, as radiator heat rises, it
can consequently lead to cold floors and hot heads, coupled with high amounts
of moisture and dust mites in the room’s atmosphere, as a result of the
convection current process used, as shown by the diagram below: