A few simple things for real savings

Approximately 64% of household energy expenditures go towards heating, representing more than $1,000 on average per residence. It is however possible to improve the energy efficiency of your heating system at low cost, regardless of the energy source.

Here a few simple things that can help improve the efficiency of your heating system.

Close the curtains at night and open them during the day

In wintertime, open your curtains during the day so that the sun can warm up your house. As soon as night falls, close them to cut down on heat loss.

Remove the dust from your warm-air heating system

Dust is the enemy of warm-air heating systems. Clean the air filters and the air intakes and outlets. Clean the inside of the unit with a vacuum cleaner. After a few years of use, clean the fan so that no dust impedes the movement of warm air throughout the house.

Watch for rust and bleed your radiators

When you notice rust on the pipes or on the furnace or boiler, contact your service technician, as such oxidation can lead to leaks. Don’t forget to bleed the air out of the radiators at the start of the heating season.

Keep an eye on the flame in your oil burner

From time to time, look through the inspection window to check the flame in your oil-burning furnace. Note whether it is burning well, and make sure there is no soot build-up. The flame should burn bright yellow and emit no smoke. If that is not the case, call in a specialist for a tune-up. He will conduct a combustion test and analyse the furnace’s performance before adjusting the burner. You’ll save on fuel and also reduce your carbon footprint. You might also have to upgrade your heating unit.

Clean your direct-fired heating system

If you clean your oil or gas heating system immediately after the heating season, the accumulated sediment is easier to dislodge than when time and humidity make it sticky and hard to remove. Leave burner adjustments to a specialist.

Assess your heating needs

If you want to change your heating system, make sure that the furnace installer doesn’t just simply replace the existing unit with a system of the same capacity, for equipment that is over 25 years old is often twice as big as today’s more efficient models. The heating load for your house should determine the type of unit required. To compare the performance of heating units, consult the searchable product list of Heating Equipment.

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Auxiliary heating units

To better cope with our rigors of winters, some homes are equipped with auxiliary heating units. In recent years, stoves and fireplaces have become much more efficient as heating units. Whether you opt for a wood, gas or oil-fired unit, make your selection based on its energy efficiency.

Here are a few helpful hints to help you pick out an auxiliary heating unit that will provide good energy performance while reducing heating costs.

Put the charm of your fireplace to work

If you have a traditional open-hearth fireplace in your home, the chimney expels a large amount of heat to the outside. You can offset that waste of energy by installing airtight glass doors and by closing the chimney damper when the fireplace is not in use.

How many BTUs should an auxiliary unit produce?

Normally, a stove that produces 30,000 BTUs can heat a surface area of 160 m2 (1,700 sq.ft.). The air tightness of the house, its insulation and its orientation will influence heating needs. The location of the unit is also important. Ideally, it should be placed in the basement, in the centre of the house or near the staircase, as the uniform distribution of heat allows for a smaller heating unit. When in doubt, it is better to choose a smaller unit that functions at full capacity than a more powerful unit that must be damped down to avoid overheating.

Don’t skimp on safety

Your auxiliary unit absolutely must bear a seal of approval from the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC), the Canadian Standards Association (CAN-CSA; Standard no. B415.1-00) or Warnock Hersey (W-H). Moreover, gas furnaces must display a Canadian Gas Association (CGA) seal. Let your insurer know about your auxiliary heating unit purchase.

Choose the wood stove that’s right for you

Choose a controlled combustion wood stove that is certified EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rather than traditional models that are not airtight, pollute much more and are less efficient. If possible, install the chimney indoors rather than outdoors to avoid blowback in the house. An outdoor chimney makes it difficult, if not impossible, to light the stove.

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