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Interior renovationsWhat is a Heating Window ?
The windows of your home have a multitude of uses: they allow for an excellent view, they give access to a cool breeze on warm or stuffy summer days as well as blocking out the chilly air during winter months. However, even when your windows are closed, one of the main ways that air can escape out into the world is through the small spaces between the window frame, glass and walls.
This escaping air leads to an increase in energy consumption and thus, higher heating and cooling bills. But what if the windows of your home could become a source of heating itself? This is the technology behind heated glass.
Heated glass can be used as a heat source for your entire home, utilizing the electricity in your home to produce radiant heat to keep yourself, friends and loved ones warm. This technologically enhanced glass can be used throughout the home, but you’re probably wondering if it’s a worthwhile option, as well as the ins and outs of how it works exactly. If you’re intrigued, read on to find out more information on heated windows.
Heated glass or windows are manufactured to transform heat loss into heat gain, but how exactly does this happen? This technology works by turning the inner layer of a double-glazed pane into a transparent heating element. This inner pane has a metal oxide coating that is invisible to the human eye, as it is incredibly thin.
The coating works by creating a form of electrical resistance that disperses heat equally, thus making a uniform heat source. The outer pane of glass also has an invisible coating which works by reflecting heat inside, while blocking the cold from making its way in. During summer months, the coating on this pane reflects the heat and UV rays away from the home.
Further, there is a non-toxic, but insulating gas placed between the two panes which help to stop any window air leakage. Lastly, both pieces of glass are tempered glass, also known as safety glass, and this type of glass is incredibly durable, up to 5 times stronger than your average glass window.
Since this glass works with electrical wiring that is concealed by the window frame and walls of your home, any breakage of glass could be dangerous. However, as the glass has been tempered, any cracks in the pane will be easily identifiable, as the glass will fracture into distinct pieces as well as rupturing the electrical activity of the glass. This will protect both your home and your loved ones from harm.
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There are many advantages to adopting heated glass windows for your home. Most manufacturers claim that using heated glass will eliminate hot and cold pockets in your house, which are often created by the average air conditioning or heating systems. This is because the technology behind heated glass allows for heat to be dispersed evenly throughout the rooms of your home.
Not only will using heated glass eliminate hot and cold sections, these windows utilize a small amount of energy to maintain a comfortable temperature within a room, using up to 35% less energy to heat a home. Therefore, this technology is cost-efficient. Most manufacturers claim that heated windows are environmentally-friendly, as alongside using a small amount of energy, no toxic fumes or chemicals are released into the environment.
If you are looking for a well-rounded environmentally-friendly heating system, the glass can be hooked up to solar panels rather than your home electrical system. The system harnesses and mimics the warmth from the sun, and the type of heat it creates is comfortable while working to reduce your carbon footprint. Also, during warmer months, heated windows block out the sun's heat, therefore working year-round to control the temperature of your home.
Further, heated windows can be connected to your home security system, thereby creating an invisible and protective shield. In the case of someone attempting to break into your home, if the outer pane of glass is fractured, this will trigger the alarm and alert the police. As we mentioned, the glass used in a heated glass system is incredibly durable, and will likely be very difficult to break by the human alone.
Heated windows are best used in places where elevated levels of condensation, as well as frost, could occur, as this system will help to keep large elevations of glass condensation-free. Manufacturers recommend that if you’re adopting this system, you should be looking to cover at least 20% of the area with heated glass, as you will be sure to obtain the best results with this technology.
RenoQuotes.com can help you get quotes for your heated window renovation project. By submitting your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals.
Last modified 2023-05-02
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 • 26 Sep 2022
Have you ever wondered if there's asbestos in your home? Asbestos is a mineral fibre found and used worldwide from the late 1800s to the early 1990s. It was commonly used in building materials and insulation, since it doesn't catch fire easily, thereby making it the perfect fire prevention material. However, using asbestos comes with its risks. The World Health Organization has estimated that millions of people die each year from exposure to asbestos fibres and other materials containing asbestos. Inhaling or ingesting these tiny fibres can lead to cancer, lung disease, and other serious health conditions. Price of Asbestos Removal for a Residential Building Source: Mikael Seegen - Unsplash Once your home has been tested and asbestos levels have been confirmed, you'll definitely want to address the problem as swiftly as possible to ensure your health and well-being and that of your family. You can hire an asbestos removal company to decontaminate your home, but these companies aren't cost-free, and asbestos removal costs can vary tremendously depending on where you live in Canada and the type of home you own. The cost of asbestos (or vermiculite) removal can vary depending on the severity of the contamination and the size of the home. A common misconception is that all homes that contain vermiculite also have asbestos. In reality, only a fraction of homes actually contains it. Knowing whether your home has been exposed to asbestos can help you determine what type of professional cleaning is needed. Abatement, or partial demolition and reconstruction, is more expensive than straightforward removal. Also, costs may increase depending on the age and state of your home, as older homes are more likely to contain asbestos in pipes, insulation, and roofing materials. The cost of asbestos decontamination can vary depending on the size, location, and type of house you own. Also, access to the area needing decontamination can significantly influence the overall cost. For example, a medium-scale asbestos removal project will cost approximately $4,000 to $5,000 (for a single-story home that's 3,000 square feet or less). Ultimately, the cost of asbestos removal will depend on the amount of time required to complete the cleanup. Homeowners are advised to seek multiple quotes in order to choose the best company for the job. The majority of homeowners interested in obtaining a quote will ask for one prior to deciding whether or not they want to proceed with home decontamination. Doing so helps them feel more informed and less vulnerable during the process. Services Included in the Cost of Asbestos Decontamination Source: Pixabay Asbestos decontamination usually includes the following services: Initial home inspection; Removal of loose or crumbling materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles, or insulation; Prior to removal, the remaining material surfaces will be sprayed with sodium bicarbonate and water liquid solution; After removal, the surfaces will be cleaned with a detergent solution; Then, all surfaces, inside and outside the building, will be thoroughly cleaned; A negative air machine will then be used to create a vacuum-sealed environment during cleanup; Site cleanup and restoration; Follow-up visits for additional removal services. Removing asbestos siding is something you'll want to outsource to professionals. The cost of removing the siding depends on the size of your home and the amount of asbestos present. For example, if you only need 10% of the siding removed, it'll cost about $1,500 for a two-story home with 100 square feet per floor. However, if 90% of the asbestos in your home needs to be removed, it'll cost around $2,750 for a two-story home with 100 square feet per floor. As a homeowner, you'll usually be responsible for the cost of asbestos removal. The cost of this process varies depending on the size and type of your home, but can cost upwards of $6,000. Costs are typically shared between the homeowner and their insurance company. The cleanup can take anywhere from four days to 14 days and is usually done in stages. The first phase involves an initial inspection that consists of taking samples of surfaces containing suspect materials, such as vinyl flooring, panelling, or insulation. Once the samples are sent for testing, a report will be returned confirming the presence of asbestos and its location in your home. Are you looking for experts to tackle your decontamination project? Fill out our form to receive quotes from certified contractors! Key Factors that Impact Decontamination Costs Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral found in building materials and insulation. It's been shown to cause cancer and other diseases, so it's important for homeowners and contractors to take the necessary precautions when dealing with asbestos. We now know that all homes built in Canada between 1930 and 1980 are at risk of being contaminated with asbestos. Given this fact, it’s imperative that homeowners exercise due diligence before choosing a course of action. First things first, determine whether your home has any asbestos-containing materials (ACM). This process typically involves either sampling the surface material or dusting certain surfaces with a test kit. Asbestos removal can be a daunting process, which is why it's important to get a quote from a professional before proceeding with the project. The cost of asbestos removal depends on the size of the job and the area that needs to be decontaminated. Listed below are some factors that'll determine the price of your decontamination project. Square footage to be serviced. How deep should asbestos fibres be removed? Will additional work be required, such as additional contaminant removal or mould remediation? Are there any safety requirements that must be met during asbestos removal? Is asbestos contained in one room or is it spread throughout the house? When it comes to removing asbestos from residential buildings, it's best to let a professional handle it. That way, you can rest assured that you're not breaking any laws and that you're doing everything by the book. Also, you might not be able to comfortably undertake this type of work, which is why hiring a professional may be the best course of action. Once you've decided to invest in asbestos removal, hire one right away, before you do anything else in your house. Decontamination is a lengthy and very detailed process due partly to material toxicity. The entire area in question must be sealed off to remove, cover, and dispose of any asbestos-contaminated products. This waste must then be taken to a toxic and hazardous waste treatment centre to avoid further contamination. This can’t be achieved alone unless you’re an expert in the field. Cover image source: Pixabay - Pexels
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
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