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As technology continues to advance, there are more advanced and environmentally-friendly ways to heat your home during those chilly months. From the wood burning stove to electric and gas heating methods, nothing is perfect. It’s a familiar struggle in winter to want to trap the heat in your home while keeping utility costs down. But, does a heating system exist that is efficient enough to keep fresh air in the home while maintaining a comforting heat level? Enter the heat recovery ventilator!
The heat recovery ventilator, also known as the HRV offers an airtight, energy-efficient solution to other heating and cooling systems. These systems offer a flow of fresh air into the home without any serious heat loss. If you’re curious about how they work and other major factors, then read on for all the important information.
Traditionally, entrepreneurs and builders didn’t spend too much time and energy considering insulation methods. Therefore, older homes have terrible insulation and some are without any insulation at all. This means that older homes lack the ability to keep heat indoors, causing high electricity bills as well as uncomfortable interior temperatures. In modern homes, insulation methods have definitely improved, and buildings have become more airtight so that their ability to hold in heat improves. Not only this, but heating systems themselves have improved in efficiency.
However, even though the combination of better insulation and better heating systems has a direct impact on the way your home is able to conserve air indoors, the home's interior still needs a regular airflow to keep the environment healthy. This is a result of many moving parts which create an excess of water and moisture inside the home, including the shower, washing dishes and clothing as well as cooking and even just breathing.
Excessive moisture leads to dust mites, mould, mildew growth and this has a serious effect on the health of all those who live inside your home. Of course, it’s possible to deal with this issue by opening windows and doors, letting new airflow into your home. Though doing this in the winter wastes an arguable amount of money. So what’s the compromise between an old, drafty home and a home that is correctly insulated but stuffy?
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We can think about our homes as we think about our bodies, needing a constant supply of fresh air to filter out toxins, moisture, and chemicals. In our bodies, the nose acts as a filter and warms the incoming air. This process is actually referred to as a heat exchange; as air leaves your nasal passages, it warms them and as cool air comes in, it adopts the heat that’s been left. This exchange allows your body to retain heat energy.
HRVs work with this same method of heat exchange. This system consists of two ventilation ducts which run next to one another both inside and outside the home. One duct moves cool, fresh air into the home while the other carries stale air outside. Between these ducts is a heat exchanger, which works to transfer heat from the stale air onto the cool, fresh air. The air itself never mixes together, and thus stays fresh and warm.
Heat recovery ventilator units vary depending on the size of the home. In smaller places, they’ll consist of a single unit that will work to heat and ventilate the entire place. For larger homes, the unit will include a ventilation grid in some or all rooms of the home that run to a single ventilator. Sound too good to be true? We’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of these systems below.
HRVs offer a home heating and cooling system that warms the home while saving money on utility bills. Here are the major pros of this device:
As with everything in life, where there are pros, there must be cons. Here are some of the major cons of the HRV system:
If you're looking for more information on other green heating systems, check out our article on the subject.
Last modified 2023-05-09
Cynthia Laferrière • 02 Dec 2022
There are many reasons why you might want to consider using methods other than heat pumps, baseboard heaters, or electric furnaces to warm up your home: winter’s afoot and you're already dreading the fact that your Hydro bills are going to skyrocket; your home has a number of back rooms that aren't properly heated by a central heating system; you live in an area that’s prone to power outages, high winds, and freezing rain. Perhaps the time has come to change your heating appliances and you still haven't decided on what type of system to replace them with, or you'd simply like to embrace an eco-friendly, energy-self-sufficient lifestyle… Bottom line, we could go on and on with this list, but instead, let's fast forward to the highlights of this article to outline the electricity-free heating options you have. To maintain a comfortable living environment and limit material damage throughout the winter months, you should make use of a heating system. In this part of the country, the systems used are made up of a heat-producing element (boiler, water tank, etc.) and a heat distribution method (baseboard heaters, traps, etc.). Some systems combine both functions, that is, they create and disperse heat, such as electric baseboard heaters and residential masonry heaters. In case you're wondering about the best method to implement, consider calling in a professional such as a heating engineer, who’ll be able to advise you according to your habits, municipal regulations, available subsidies, as well as according to the type of house you live in. Electricity-Free Heating Options Here are the 2 categories of electricity-free possibilities: Wood & biomass; Fossil fuel energies. For each of these, you can choose between: Stove or fireplace; Furnace; Boiler (condensing, standard, fuel oil). Note: There are other methods that are more suited to temporary heat generation, such as portable butane or propane gas radiant space heaters. Use with caution in case of emergencies! Biomass or Fossil Fuel Energy? First of all, it’s important to consider where these energy sources actually come from. In Canada, biomass is the second most popular source of renewable energy. It's obtained from non-fossilized organic matter (straw, wood residue, animal excrement, vegetable or household waste, and so on). These substances are burned and can be purchased in various states: liquid (e.g. bioethanol), solid (e.g. wood chips and pellets), and gaseous (e.g. biomethane, which isn't made available to the general public). As for fossil fuels, they’re considered non-renewable, similar to nuclear energy, as their sources take far too long to regenerate or simply fail to renew naturally. This energy source also derives from plant and marine organisms, although they've been fossilized for millions of years. Over time, temperature and other factors dictated by Mother Nature turn these elements into oil, natural gas, or coal. The main differences between biomass and fossil fuels lie in the amount of time it takes to generate, and whether or not they’re renewable at all. Whether you choose to purchase one or the other is entirely up to you, although regulations may limit your options as detailed below. Are you looking for experts for your heating project? Fill in this form to be connected with top-rated contractors! Using a Stove or Fireplace to Heat a Home Electricity-Free Some stoves and fireplaces on the market can run independently, with no power supply. They rely on radiation or convection. Radiation involves the use of invisible infrared wavelengths designed to heat objects and walls surrounding a heating system, while neither directly warming nor drying out the air. This method creates a more comfortable indoor setting, and the warmth is effectively diffused in all directions. On the other hand, convection is a method of heat transfer that results in airflow. The substance is heated, it then expands, decreases in density, and rises. The heat generated is then cooled by its surroundings, shrinks, regains its density, and drops back down again. Fireplaces & Masonry Heaters These models are often fixed, located in a strategic area of the home, with a heavy casing to maximize thermal storage properties (bricks, stones, cement, or refractory castables). They’re named as such because their mass, which is a result of high temperature-resistant materials, is the primage thermal storage. Additionally, the resulting smoke from the combustion process will be channelled towards the chimney, which will also be warmed up, and will help evenly release energy. As such, heat is released by radiation and needs to be run all day to ensure peak performance value. However, if your installation is EPA-certified, only one fire feed is necessary for 24-hour comfort. That way, you'll save on fuel and reduce your environmental impact. Note that an open-concept layout will benefit from better heat distribution. Masonry heaters are expensive and bulky, however, they're super effective and add a bit of flair and value to your home. Although, installing masonry heaters from scratch is a complex task and requires some careful planning prior to construction, so bear in mind that it'll bump your initial budget by at least $20,000. Source: Anathea Utley - Flickr Wood-Burning Stoves This type of heating system releases heat by convection (by means of the panels along its outer edge) and then by radiation. Installation is rather simple, even the chimney, and is suitable for renovations or system upgrades. The system’s efficiency depends entirely on the quality of the fuel used. However, these units are well suited to warm up smaller spaces in a home, especially if the house has several storeys. In this case, consider combining it with another heating method, or installing more than one unit. Wood-burning stoves are manufactured in varying sizes and shapes and cost between $600 to $2,000 depending on the power required. Depending on the size of the stove, the price can go up to $2,000 if you don't have a chimney. All surrounding materials, such as the walls, must be fireproofed if they aren't already. Source: Tyler Karaszewski - Flickr Furnaces & Boilers In Quebec, there's now a ban on installing oil-fired furnaces in newly built homes. Gas furnaces will also be prohibited by the summer of 2023. These furnaces don't meet environmental standards at all. Natural gas condensing boilers are more effective and discreet, and overall less harmful to the environment. To maximize their efficiency, they have to be connected to a hot water supply. However, the drawbacks of this type of boiler (fires, fumes, maintenance, etc.) don't necessarily translate into making it a preferred choice. Therefore, it's best to opt for an EPA-approved model that runs on wood (logs or pellets). Note that a wood pellet boiler uses a dual energy source, meaning it also requires electricity. If you need to change your old furnace or want to get rid of it, the departments of energy and natural resources offer a number of subsidies to help alleviate the financial burden of such a change. Also, check with your municipality regarding other possible options and subsidies. Source: Salim Virji - Flickr Fueling an Electricity-Free Heating System with Wood Fuel: Logs Standard logs have a sought-after density that allows for good wood-burning ability. To limit particle emissions and prolong their lifespan, the logs have to be dry and dense. For heating purposes, favour logs from local and specialized cutting services. And above all, don't use treated wood! Your lungs and ozone layer will thank you. Also, don't be too quick to jump to conclusions whenever you see a log with an eco-friendly label. While most brands do emit fewer pollutants, their manufacturing process negates these benefits. Keep to a very limited use. Fuel: Pellets These small, cylindrical bits of wood, about the same size as the tip of your pinky finger, are made of compressed sawdust and emit fewer articles than logs. You can easily find a 40-pound bag in any home hardware store like Réno-Dépôt or Canadian Tire for anywhere between $6 to $20. Consider buying in bulk from a supplier if you plan on using a lot over an extended period of time. Again, look at where your wood pellets are from; it isn't a carbon-neutral or eco-friendly approach if the pellets are shipped from thousands of miles away using diesel fuel transportation. Source: samuelemunemu32 - Flickr Few Tips to Keep You Warm Adequate wall, window, and door insulation; Thick, thermal insulated curtains; Floorings such as carpets and heated floors; Allow sunlight in during the day; Shut doors to unoccupied rooms; Open windows now and again to let the humidity out; Build a passive solar home. Cover image source: Gerd Altmann - Pixabay
Cynthia Laferrière • 08 Oct 2022
Perhaps you’re the victim of an accident that’s left you temporarily or permanently disabled. Maybe you're thinking of adapting your staircase for an individual experiencing a loss of autonomy. Perhaps your child with limited mobility is ageing and seeking independence… No matter the reasons that have led you to remodel your home to render it more accessible and to facilitate the comings and goings, several home devices are offered for individuals with mobility needs. Home Devices for Individuals with Impaired Mobility Depending on the layout of your home, you’ll be able to choose between a broad line of different specialized devices. But first, assess your needs to narrow down your options before perusing the entire catalogue. How many floors do you need to render accessible? How much space can go toward installing lifting devices without compromising comfort levels and safety? In general, how much weight will the chair or platform need to uphold, and will the individual in question require assistance? Do you absolutely need the devices to blend in with your decor, and have various colour or material options available? Do you have a clear-cut budget to uphold, or can you extend your research to include smart or high-tech features and/or functions? Are you limited in terms are brands and models that are reimbursable by financial assistance programs? Lifting Devices Standard Stairlifts, electric platform lifts, elevators, and patient lifts are designed to make your life easier and daily tasks safer to perform. To ensure their quality, these devices are subjected to strict rules and standards. Whether it be their conceptualization, maintenance, manufacturing, or installation, lifting equipment must respect the Construction Code established by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec and meet the requirements put in place by the Canadian Standards Association. On top of governmental regulations, it should be noted that device owners are solely responsible for the following: That the device is only used to lift authorized loads directly linked to its main functions, such as a person that’s wheelchair bound, and not that of groceries carried in by children…even if it may seem helpful; Subscribing to a regular maintenance service that’s specific to the device and brand; Equipping doors and gates with safety sensors to ensure that these are properly shut prior to activating the device; Maintaining the function of mechanisms linked to emergency stop buttons and communication features; And never installing nor repairing the device: only certified professionals are authorized to do so. Since we’re highly aware that these mobility assistance devices are oftentimes quite costly, and that reducing one’s ecological footprint can be done by shopping resourcefully, it isn’t all that surprising that one might shop around on secondhand websites. However, make sure that the devices are approved by the RBQ and have less than five years of service. Are you looking for experts to tackle your home renovation project? Fill out our form to receive quotes from certified contractors! Stairlifts Source: Tool Dude8mm – Flickr A stairlift, also known as a stair chair, chair lift, stairway lift, or “Stair Glide,” is designed to prevent falls and exhaustion by allowing individuals with limited autonomy to comfortably access different storeys and cross the threshold of a house or commercial space. Normally, this device isn’t practical for wheelchair-bound individuals with limited use of their legs, as they won’t have the necessary stability to move from one seat to another. For that matter, this device is mainly used by seniors or individuals with slight disabilities. The indoor stairlift is powered by electricity, but is also outfitted with a battery, in case of a power outage. This device also has a retractable seat belt or centre clasp. It moves up and down slowly, and has a pivoting seat that can be adjusted accordingly during installation. Furthermore, a key-lock feature prohibits anyone from activating the lift without the user’s consent. Lastly, an emergency stop button and an obstacle sensor fine-tune its acute safety features. This device can be installed in less than a day by screwing it in directly to the stair treads (instead of the wall), and that, on whichever side you want, handrail or no handrail. Common models have a maximum load capacity of 360 pounds and a 35-metre-long railing. This lift starts at $4,000. Based on the chosen model, a wide selection of low- to high-end features are available: Seat, footrest, and remote-controlled retractable rail on the landing; Troubleshoot screen; Wireless call centre; Choice of seat colour and finish, and of rails. Chair angle and width for ergonomic purposes; Subscribing to repair and maintenance services; For straight, curved, custom-curved (with landing) staircases, etc. Vertical Lift Platforms Source: charlene mcbride – Flickr The vertical lift platform is one of the most common lifting devices. Less costly than an elevator and less cumbersome than an access ramp, most can accommodate 500 to 1,000 pounds and can be installed within two days. Lift platforms located alongside stairway handrails or walls have a retractable platform and rail to free up space when not in use. Note that you can also rent an available model if you only need a lift platform for a short period of time (for an event or due to an injury). This option is beneficial, as it’s less costly, doesn't require a slab of cement, and has all the same safety features as a permanent lift platform. Outdoor Use: Some models like the VISTA vertical lift platform are made in Quebec. Therefore, they’re designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, meaning a wide degree of temperature variations and all types of precipitation. Made with galvanized steel and mounted on a slab of cement, it can be remotely controlled (from indoors) in due part to a battery. Devoid of a strap, it can go up one storey and end its course atop the balcony, for example. This model is around $7,000. On the flip side, vertical lift platforms with a strap and door are made bigger and have a higher load capacity, can reach four storeys, and are usually priced between $20,000 to $35,000. Indoor Use: A lift platform installed inside the home embodies the most practical option for an individual who’s wheelchair-bound and can’t easily switch from one seat to another, like that of a standard stairlift. However, considering that its base can measure up to 40 inches wide and 60 inches long, its installation can lead to a large-scale renovation project, depending on the layout of your staircase. Luckily, this unfortunate situation can most often be avoided. Patient Lifts & Slings Source: Craig Howel – Flickr Most often used in healthcare centres or retirement homes, an electric patient lift is specially designed to ensure the safety of caregivers. As a matter of fact, the device ensures that a caregiver can stably and safely transfer an individual with reduced mobility from one surface to another without strain or injury. For example, it can be used when moving from bed to bathtub, or when bed linens are changed. Even though the majority of patient lifts are on wheels and, at first glance, don’t amount to a pertinent talking point considering the article’s subject matter, it’s still pretty useful, and thus worth mentioning. One could also note that there are some models that are so big, just like wheelchairs, that doorways need to widen. As for others, you can put together a patient lift that’s affixed to ceiling rails. You can also switch the type of sling affixed to the hooks based on your immediate need: Universal; Hammock; Stretcher; Heavy duty; Swimming pool; Bathtub; etc. One can also find various models of slings, as well as various types of patient lifts (bariatric, U-shaped, split-leg, sit-to-stand, etc.). The device’s durability and that of its components vary based on the frequency of use and general maintenance. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $8,000 to acquire one. Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements for Persons with Disabilities Luckily, nowadays, there are hundreds of devices designed to improve quality of life. On top of the ones mentioned in this article, there are access ramps, threshold ramps, shower seats, dumbwaiters, elevators, mechanical chairs and beds, and the list goes on. Depending on your circumstances, there are various services available that can help you obtain disability-related financial aid. For example, you could be granted $16,000 of financial assistance from the Residential Adaptation Assistance Program. The Société d'Habitation du Québec offers a Residential Adaptation Assistance Program that provides professional assistance, self-determined needs and work, and retroactive financial assistance. Likewise, aside from being wheelchair-bound, there are many other disabilities that are eligible for a tax credit: hearing, visual, physiological, cognitive, chronic illness, speech, etc. Naturally, to benefit from these assistance programs, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. More specifically, the condition diminishing your quality of life must be permanent or persist long enough to justify significant expenses (equipment, home renovations, adapted transportation services, caregiver/private nurse, etc.). Therefore, you'll have to include proof of your situation in your admission file, as provided by a health professional or a recognized organization (SAAQ, CNESST, CLSC, IVAC). Cover image source: Jacobo Tarrío - Flickr
SoumissionRenovation.ca • 27 Jan 2023
Amongst all the home heating options available out here, propane heating has numerous advantages, which we’ll detail in this article. The 5 Advantages of Propane Home Heating Source: Canva Propane heating features some characteristics that no other home heating system has to offer. It’s clean, comfortable, safe, cost-effective, and budget-friendly. 1. Propane is a clean energy Since we’re all affected by climate change, note that combustion produced by propane gas heating only emits two elements: water vapour and carbon dioxide (CO2). Although carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect, propane is, along with natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel in terms of CO2 emissions. And, for that reason, Denis Quintal, of Entretien Universel, stated that “Propane heating is more ecological than oil-fired heating systems.” For every one million BTUs (British Thermal Units) consumed, solely 138.63 pounds (62.88 kg) of CO2 is released into the atmosphere. For comparison purposes, oil-fired heating systems release 163.45 pounds (74.14 kg) of CO2. While extraction is often blamed, note that even the 2004 IPCC report advocated for the installation of gas-fired energy production units. 2. The comforts of propane heating Propane home heating has very noteworthy characteristics since the heat it generates allows for: a decent humidity level in the air; control with degree precision; gentle and even heat. In homes, dry air can cause nose bleeds, nasal congestion, respiratory issues, or even lead to the deterioration of wooden floors or furniture, so there’s no real quandary when it comes to choosing the right unit. 3. It’s more cost-effective Propane gas home heating systems are generally quite cost-effective due to their operational processes. In fact, these units can generate greater heat than other fuels while also functioning in intervals rather than continuously. As such, you can save energy since the system isn’t running endlessly. 4. It’s a financial gain, short and long term Based on the size of your house, the dimensions of every room, and the number of residents living under one roof, your heating bill can be mitigated. Especially if you’re using propane as a backup heating source (portable heater), and only when needed. Moreover, propane ensures the long-term durability of your furnace, as long as 20 years, whereas an electric heat pump should be replaced after 10-15 years of normal use. 5. Propane heating is safe The system is installed by a professional holding a certificate of qualification in gas appliances. It’s also important to note that, as mentioned by Denis Quintal, “The majority of propane home heating system issues are a direct result of human errors.” The aforementioned expert also shared with us that we have to rely on either the CSA B-149 standard or the Manufacturer Code. To that comes the quality of the material used. You can verify the quality of the heating system installed in your home by their certification seals and labels. Certificates can only be issued by accredited certification bodies such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Underwriters Laboratories of Canada Inc. (ULC), or Intertek Canada. Are you looking for experts for your heating and air conditioning project? Fill in our form to be connected with top-rated contractors! Types of Propane Home Heating Systems Source: Canva Boilers, much like furnaces, are atmospheric burners. Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are classified as forced-draft power burners. Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are rarely used to heat a residence, unlike boilers and furnaces. The benefit of using a boiler is its noiseless nature. However, it takes a rather lengthy period for it to reach its ideal temperature. On the other hand, furnaces are loud, yet they heat rapidly and guarantee optimal ambient comfort. When it comes to a wall-mounted system, note that there are sealed combustion appliances with remote-controlled or analog thermostats. Quintal advised choosing BTUs based on the square footage you need to heat. He went on to state that wall fan heaters evenly distribute the warmth from below to cover larger areas, while a fanless model allows the heat to rise throughout the room. These units are rather decent and range from $900 to $2,000. Propane Boilers There are two types of propane boilers: condensing boilers; low-temperature boilers. The first one has a 105% yield, while the second one has a yield of 95%. These boilers are connected to hot water pipes. Moreover, low-temperature boilers are designed for underfloor heating. Heated Floors Underfloor heating is a prime heating example: doesn’t create dust; doesn’t take up space; generates heat evenly. Naturally, in any room, warm air rises. As such, the advantage of heated floors is that it guarantees an even room temperature, from top to bottom. Hot Water Heating This system is often paired with underfloor heating. Why’s that? Well, because if there are a lot of back-and-forths, just like when your kids come and go, non-stop, from your house, underfloor heating alone may not be sufficient to keep the main room warm. The above-mentioned is the reason why you can also install a hot water heating system in whichever room is most exposed to cold drafts (main entryway or hallways connecting the garage to the main house). Warm Air Heating Also known as a unit heater, warm air heating is best installed on the ceiling of a garage, greenhouse, warehouse, or farm. The warmth will then spread throughout the area via convection, which is created between the heated unit and the air. A fan enhances the convection coefficient. Prices and Features of Propane Home Heating Units Source: Canva Radiant propane heater This is an infrared tube heater. A burner ignites a flame in the tube. Then, a fan pushes the warm air into the ductwork and a deflector directs it to the area that needs to be heated. This system can produce up to 30,000 BTUs to heat up a 500 sq. ft. space (46m²). Don’t use such a system in bathrooms, bedrooms, or in a vehicle. Model: Mr. Heater - $995.95 Portable propane heater This is an added bonus for any outdoor work, for your garage, workshop, or deck even. Benefit from a portable heater to keep warm. The 18,000 BTU Mr. Heater brand unit weighs 10 kg and has a 9 kg gas cylinder for the low price of $229. For outdoor use only. Garage and chalet heater Are you looking for a furnace that heats your entire chalet or garage? With 55,000 BTU, a propane furnace is the heating unit you need. Price: $2,503 RV propane heater Campers and recreational vehicles are, most often, heated with a propane gas furnace. This heater system is connected to a 12V power source that powers a fan which distributes warm air throughout the enclosure. Olympian Wave-3 catalytic heater: $289.99
SoumissionRenovation.ca • 12 Dec 2022
Hot water heating systems are an integral part of our heritage and are still found and efficiently used in most centennial houses in Quebec. The main reason they’re not as common nowadays is that installation costs are steeper than that of other heating systems, which makes some homeowners reluctant. In older buildings, it’s rather tempting to opt for electric baseboard heaters. However, if you’ve already got this type of heating system installed, consider all your options before making a final decision. And for those who're looking for an efficient system to improve the overall level of comfort in their home, hot water heating may be the best choice for years to come. Hot water heating has proved itself over the years and is still improving. The process is far from archaic - in fact, newer systems are more than 90% efficient. Using hot water is by far the best way to distribute heat in a residential property. Hot water heating is convenient, durable, noiseless, economical, clean, and eco-friendly, despite it being older than Grandma. This system is both cozy and tireless and can be modernized to meet the needs of new generations. How Does Hot Water Heating Work? Source: Canva Hot water heating allows you to heat a dwelling by means of a boiler that sends heated water to your heating units (radiators, baseboard heaters, floor heating, etc.). While its use is relatively simple, the benefits are invaluable! This type of system is supplied by a heat-transfer fluid, basically, water, which will increase the temperature of the electric boiler, powered by either natural gas, propane, or oil. How does the water circulate? The hot water boiler is connected to the various heating appliances by a piping system, and one or more circulators feed hot water through the house directly into radiators, convectors, baseboard heaters, or underfloor heating systems. Thus, providing the entire home with a comfortable warmth. The pipes running between the boiler and the radiators enable hot water to circulate, thereby releasing a gentle, even heat. Note that the water in these pipes stays hot for a long time. During the January 1998 North American ice storm, some radiators remained hot and efficient despite a two-day power outage. When the water cools down, it's pumped back into the boiler to be reheated, or done so merely by gravity (the boiler is usually located in a basement), and the cycle repeats itself. Now, installation requires a double-acting hydraulic cylinder, one to deliver water to the heating appliances, and the other used to return the water to the heat generator. It’s a closed circuit, so it’s always the same water that circulates. Heating Unlike Any Other Rather than heating the room itself, the hydronic system heats the objects using radiation, resulting in a more constant flow compared to a forced air system. As the water circulates through the pipes, it’ll first heat the walls of the units using convection. Then, the heat will flow through the metal structure by way of conduction. Finally, the warm air will diffuse by radiation, just like the sun's rays warm floors, walls, furniture, and even the individuals in a room. The majority of the energy will be dispersed as such. Designed to provide maximum efficiency as well as even heat, various radiators are equipped with numerous fins, tubes or blades. The "accordion" shape, a tribute to its predecessor, is still very much present in today's systems since it significantly increases the heat exchange areas. Small- and Large-Scale Heating Contrary to popular belief, hydronic heating can be installed in all types of buildings, whether it be a residential home, a multi-housing unit, a commercial space, or an industrial building. With individual heating, a boiler supplies heat to all the rooms in the house or apartment. With collective heating, the boiler distributes heat to all the apartments within a complex. This approach can be developed on a large scale, as there are also heat networks for districts or cities. Beneficial Features of Hydronic Heating Source: Canva When the winter cold hits, we tend to give in to the idea of using one of the most efficient heating systems, with numerous advantages. If you want to benefit from uniform ambient heat throughout your home, hot water heating is definitely the way to go! Uniform Heating Solution for Maximum Comfort As opposed to an electric heating system, or other various appliances that diffuse heat independently, a centralized hot water heating system functions around a closed circuit to provide constant and uniform warmth in every room. Since it heats objects (floors, walls, furniture, etc.) rather than the ambient air, this unique system eliminates hot, dry drafts, and the discomfort of low or high levels of humidity, as well as temperature variations. Instead, heat is released gradually, where and when it's needed, to ensure unparalleled thermal comfort. Also, it should be noted that the temperature of the water flowing through the pipes isn’t sufficiently warm to cause burns from touching the radiators and other appliances. Clean Air for a Healthier Home As previously mentioned, a hot water heating system doesn’t cause air displacement. It heats up mass rather than ambient air and doesn’t contribute to dust, pollutants, and allergens moving through the home, as do forced-air central heating systems and older ventilation systems. Therefore, this makes it a great option for anyone suffering from allergies or chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, or others. An Eco-Friendly System Not only is a hot water heating a safe option for residents, but it's also an eco-friendly option. Given that it uses the same water supply as it circulates in the pipes, this clever system proves to be very green. After all, water is a renewable but precious resource. A hot water system works in such a way that its supply can be recycled over and over again, thereby avoiding wasting the planet's resources. As a bonus, the hot water heating system is both clean and eco-friendly, as it doesn’t release greenhouse gas emissions or pollutants into the atmosphere while in operation. Noiseless Performance One other advantage that makes hot water heating worth mentioning is that it makes virtually no noise. If properly calibrated, it's very quiet, if not inaudible, and provides a pleasant tranquillity. Cost-Efficient System Compared to other heating systems, installing a hot water system may sound expensive. However, compared to a traditional electric baseboard heating system, the costs associated with its use are lower, making it a long-term money-saver. Hydronic heating evenly distributes and regulates the heat in the home. Simply maintaining the temperature with zero fluctuation reduces household energy consumption. This translates into big financial savings on utility bills. To sum it up, regardless of the fact that it's remarkably durable, it's an excellent investment, since hot water heating is more cost-effective than the most popular heating systems. The Outstanding Effectiveness of Hot Water Heating Source: Canva While hot water heating systems are highly durable, a boiler's age speaks volumes about its efficiency. While an old oil boiler can convert 60% of the energy found in its fuel into heat, electric boilers are much more efficient, with 100% efficiency. Gas boiler efficiency varies between 80% and 95%. To improve efficiency, besides changing your old boiler, you can retrofit your hot water heating system with an "indoor/outdoor" temperature controller, no matter how old it is. The controller monitors both indoor and outdoor temperatures to determine the ideal setting. This allows you to maintain a constant temperature, and save a lot of money compared to systems that overheat before shutting down. Minimal Maintenance Hot water heating systems have stood the test of time. If properly maintained, their operational life can easily exceed fifty or sixty years. Besides preserving the thermal comfort in your home, annual maintenance ensures the durability of your heating system. It's a simple and rarely expensive routine that can prevent many concerns. Boiler and overall system cleaning and maintenance should be done by a professional technician. Below are the most important maintenance tasks to ensure the efficient performance of the hot water system: Make sure that the water level is set at an optimal level and that the air trapped in the pipes is cleared (oxygen contributes to the corrosion of some steel pipes and hinders the water flow); Clean the combustion chamber to ensure the necessary amount of heat is produced for the system to properly function; Ensure that the water pressure is good and constant; If needed, lubricate the water pump for a good water flow; Analyze the contamination level of the water and replace it if necessary; For oil and gas boilers, check whether the boiler is burning properly and if it’s safely vented (electric boilers require very little maintenance). Lastly, professionals recommend bleeding your heating system once a year by withdrawing two to three cups of water, to avoid damaging the pipes. Be careful! Are parts of the boiler or pipes running hot? This could be a sign that there's an insulation problem, and thus a heat loss issue. Are the pumps or valves leaking? Rapidly ensuring that the pipes are watertight is super important. Wall leaks are not common since the main connection points are near the appliances and boiler. However, water leaks under the appliances can damage floors and even the building’s structure and cause utility bills to skyrocket. A Good Pipe A hot water heating system is made up of galvanized steel pipes (or copper pipes for older models) that absolutely need to be maintained. The two main problems are pipe scaling and corrosion. Scaling is the result of waste matter found in drinking water, especially when it contains a lot of limescale. When heat and pressure are applied, scale tends to crystallize on the metal walls of the pipe. As a result, water flow rates are reduced and heat transfer is delayed, causing energy consumption to increase by as much as 40%. In the worst cases, the piping can occasionally rupture. Unfortunately, corrosion stems from the fact that the majority of pipes used today are made of galvanized steel. If not insulated, they're prone to corrosion in unheated areas of the home. Are you looking for experts for your air conditioning or heating project? Fill in this form to be connected with top-rated contractors! Different Hot Water Heating Systems Source: Canva If the oil boiler is on the verge of extinction, the hydronic electric heating system is the perfect alternative due to its excellent efficiency and because it requires very little maintenance. On the other hand, gas boilers maintain their title as the most economic and eco-friendly option. Provided the boiler is large enough, hot water offers quite an array of possibilities: Enjoy hot water for various household needs and tasks, easily heat an add-on room, veranda, or sunroom, or simply add a heated floor or a towel warmer, or heat your pool water... Basically, let your imagination run free! These features are obviously broken down into different options. To make the right choice, it's best to know how to distinguish the various characteristics and features. Types of Power Supplies The main methods of powering hot water heating systems are fuel (wood or gas) and electricity. Note that hybrid or dual-energy boilers enable the use of two energies during very cold spells, which allows you to benefit from favourable rates from Hydro-Québec. Electric boilers are easy to install, neat and compact, thus making them ideal in residential homes and commercial spaces. They're always reliable and efficient and have a virtually unrestricted lifespan. Natural gas boilers are amongst the most energy-efficient heating appliances on the market. On top of that, they produce very little pollution. And, yearly maintenance guarantees their efficiency over the years. Types of Systems To create a water flow, two types of hot water systems are used: gravity-fed and forced water systems. Gravity-fed system Gravity-fed systems don't rely on a pump to function properly. Due to the ingenuity of this system, water flows through the house to heat the various rooms, before it's heated again. This is accomplished by exploiting the difference in density between the supply water and the return water. When water is heated, it expands and its density drops. In turn, it causes water to rise in the pipes. The energy is then distributed to the various units of a room by means of baseboard heaters and other devices, thereby lowering the temperature of the water. As it cools, the water contracts causing its density to increase. It then naturally plunges towards the boiler to allow the cycle to repeat itself. Having an expansion tank means you can safely manage the increasing volume of the water once it’s been heated. Since the driving force of gravity-fed systems isn’t as strong as that of forced air systems, it’s offset by the larger piping. There's a growing trend towards replacing the gravity-fed system with the forced air system. Although efforts have been made to overcome the slower driving force through larger pipe sizes, the water flow remains slower and the temperature fluctuations between heating cycles are still noticeable. This type of system also negates the possibility of using the basement, unless you aren't bothered by cold floors. In fact, since the hot water is less dense, it automatically rises above the level of the boiler and prevents the temperature from being evenly distributed. Forced air heating system Forced air heating units use a pump system to maintain water flow. They're grouped into four distinct categories based on their individual piping. Loop system A unique pipe runs through the building to supply all the heating appliances (radiators, baseboard heaters, convectors, etc.). The hot water needs to flow through each radiator, thus losing its heat according to the power of the appliance it feeds, before returning to the boiler. While this system is limited in capacity, it's relatively inexpensive to install and duct insulation becomes unnecessary because the piping is located near the floor. However, it's impossible to regulate the temperature of one unit without affecting the others. Loop systems are most often used in small buildings or as a sub-circuit of a larger system. One-pipe system With this system, every heating appliance is linked to one main piping supply. As opposed to the loop system, each heating unit can be regulated by means of a control valve. Two-pipe direct return system This type of system has two separate piping networks. The first one allows hot water to flow toward heating units. Once the water has cooled down, the second pipe draws the water back to the boiler to reheat it. However, it requires each unit to have a control valve, which makes it difficult to regulate. Two-pipe reverse return system This system is similar to the previous one, but the return flow is via an additional pipe. The cooled water, therefore, returns directly to the boiler along the supply pipe. However, it's easier to balance, allowing each individual unit to be supplied with water at the same temperature. Whether you're in the middle of a renovation project or looking to cut back on your utility bills, choosing your heating system carefully is key. After all, you can get a high-performance system that offers maximum comfort at a reasonable cost!
Cynthia Laferrière • 08 Dec 2022
Are you planning on installing a fireplace or wood-burning stove as a way of heating your home this winter? Perhaps you're worried about power outages and want an alternative source of heat in the event of a blackout. Or maybe you've just been dreaming of romantic getaways at the chalet, bundled up in front of the open flames, hot chocolate in hand… No matter your motivation, there's no denying that the comfort, style, and ambiance created by these appliances are sure to win over any homeowner. So, if you're willing to commit financially to installing such a heating system, of carefully maintaining it, and stacking the firewood, go ahead, and keep scrolling! Factors to Consider When Heating with Firewood Source: Pexels - Pixabay Regulations Respecting Firewood Appliances Residential wood-burning appliances sometimes undermine values and generate environmental concerns, which is why it's important that your appliance meets current environmental standards. Fortunately, new CSA B415 or EPA-certified wood-burning stoves and fireplaces produce far fewer airborne emissions compared to their predecessors. In fact, since 2009, non-compliant models are no longer sold in Quebec, and the government offers financial aid programs to encourage citizens to upgrade their appliances. As far as Montréal regulations apply, regardless of the type of solid fuel used, your system can't emit more than 2.5 grams of particles per hour. Some boroughs do require that you obtain a permit before removing, replacing, or installing a fireplace or wood-burning stove. You may also be required to report your new installation within 4 months to avoid a fine. In other words, educate yourself before jumpstarting your project! And finally, know that choosing the right species and quality of wood can reduce your negative impact on Mother Nature. Choosing the Right Firewood Source: Canva Now that your wood-burning stove or fireplace is compliant, all you've to do is make the right decisions to maintain the value of your investment and limit pollution. 1- Wood species Normally, local suppliers offer a mix of cherry, maple, birch, and beech. Oak, elm, and ash are also available. These are the hardest and densest woods that perform best in terms of energy efficiency as well as wood-burning rate. Resinous woods such as larch, pine, basswood, and cottonwood are preferable on warmer days when you'll be feeding your fireplace, not for warmth per se, but primarily to remove moisture from the air and maintain a comfortable room temperature. These species are a favourite for date night in, as the logs crackle and add a touch of ambiance. However, these burn rather quickly and tend not to leave behind a nice bed of embers. Woods commonly referred to as softwoods, such as fir or spruce, shouldn't be used. Doing so would render your purchase ineffective, both from a heat output perspective and as far as keeping your fireplace in good condition. 2- Wood features Ideally, you should get your cords ready in the spring and allow them dry outside during the summertime under optimal conditions: Sheltered from the rain; Not straight on the ground, but on pallets or another type of support; Rows spaced out to allow air circulation. Whether in cities or suburbs, it’s not always easy to find enough space inside to store the purchased firewood in the spring. Simply choose a lumber supplier that lets the wood dry for about a year before selling it. If you plan on cutting down the trees yourself, do so in the winter, when the sap flow is interrupted. Basically, firewood must be dry (less than 20% moisture level). Damp wood doesn't burn all that well, fails to meet the standards required for a healthy environment and increases the risk of causing a fire by blocking your chimney. If it makes a kind of whistling sound when burning, then it's not ready. However, according to Ms. Taillefer of Bois de foyer Rive-Nord Inc., "You can choose semi-dry wood depending on the season, to save money and then allow the wood to dry." Whether the wood you purchased is delivered to you, or you're buying in-store, remember to look out for these aspects to ensure you’re getting high-quality wood: The ends of the logs should be cracked; the deeper and wider the cracks, the better. If a dry, hollow sound results from banging together two ends, it's a good log. If the wood is darker in colour than that of the tree trunk’s natural colour, your logs will also burn more efficiently. If you notice a smell of fresh wood or beading water, you’re probably looking at green wood, thus damp wood. Don't buy it. Naturally, you won't have to deal with humidity issues when using a pellet stove or artificial firelogs, since the wood bags are available at hardware stores, ready to burn. Fun Facts: No matter the rumours out there, firewood is a taxable product. Don't be surprised when you see the QST and GST on your bill! Part of the reason why the price of firewood has soared is due to the cost of gas for product transportation. Are you looking for experts for your wood-burning fireplace project? Fill in this form to be connected with top-rated contractors! Storing Firewood Source: Canva Also, as previously stated, and as advised by Sandie Taillefer, "Firewood should be stored outside, exposed to the wind and sun, to air it out more efficiently." Likewise, keep your wood on high ground, sheltered from bad weather. However, if you can store your logs in a garage, or if you've got a dedicated storage space, all the better! But don't store large quantities of logs in a living space. Also, don't line your balcony with it either: That could damage the structure and cause it to buckle under the weight of the wood. Measuring a Cord of Wood The standard measurement for a cord of wood is 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long (128 cubic feet). The preferred size of a log for optimal heating, and one that fits most appliances, is 6 inches in diameter by 16 inches long. Occasionally, different sizes can be requested from your supplier. Remain vigilant about whether you're getting the right amount of firewood. Some terms are deemed illegal as they tend to be confusing and may indicate a measurement that is less than a cord (face cord, stove cord, apartment cord). Be present during delivery, take note of the license plate on the delivery vehicle and measure the bulk of firewood brought in. The following information should be listed on your receipt: Vendor's contact information (name, phone number, and address); Price; Species and quantity of firewood. If an error occurs, immediately contact the vendor. Should no resolution or recourse be considered, you can file a complaint with Measurement Canada. How to Clean a Wood-Burning Stove or Fireplace Source: Canva Keeping your fireplace or wood-burning stove properly maintained minimizes environmental impact and reduces the probability of a fire. Therefore, you should regularly empty the ashes, and remove dust or any other debris surrounding the appliance. If you don't want to do this, or if you have a large chimney that requires a proper sweep, consider hiring a professional! You can also check out our article Fireplace Maintenance Tips for more information on the subject matter. Cover photo: Pexels - Pixabay