Thermalstat! by Chantal Keerak
What’s the key to having a cozy comfortable home?
Many people will spend a lot of time and money trying to make their homes look nice. But a home should also feel nice to be in. A properly designed and functioning heating system can make your home into a cozy haven. Unfortunately all too often home occupants will have to deal with rooms that have uneven temperatures, noisy ductwork, uncomfortable air movement and decreased energy efficiency.
A heating system should be able to maintain desired temperatures in all rooms of the house, not sound like a freight train, or produce bone-chilling drafts. If you have these problems in your home there are a lot of options, some of them are very inexpensive.
Ideally the systems should be properly designed to Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) or equivalent standards during the planning phase of the home. The number one complaint we hear is that certain rooms in a home are colder than others. The key to preventing this is determining the heat loss of each room in the home and creating a heating system to meet it.
Often more time is spent choosing paint colors of a new home than the heating system. The cost of an effective heating system and ventilation design is typically based on the number of rooms in a home. In many cases the heating system design can be done for less than the cost of paint for the room. Many builders and homeowners do not want to spend the extra money on a proper design, but they risking paying later by having uneven temperatures in the home, excessive noise, drafts, and compromised efficiency. In my opinion ensuring that the room is cozy and pleasant to be in is just as important as the paint on the walls.
The type of heating system you install and the type of fuel you use can have a significant impact on your annual heating costs. In Revelstoke we are fortunate in that we have a lot of different heating system options and fuel choices. The most common heating energy sources are propane, electricity, wood and oil. Prices are continually fluctuating but the cost to heat a home will depend on two things. They are the cost of energy that the heating appliance uses and the efficiency of that appliance.
We often get asked what type of heating system is the most economical to install. This really depends on the heat loss of the home. If a home is large in size, is not well insulated, has lots of windows or substantial air leakage, it will tend to have a higher than average heating load. Typically the greater the heating load the more economical it is to spend the additional money on a more energy efficient heating system such as air source heat pumps or geoexchange systems.
LiveSmart BC has grants of over $1,000 for propane furnaces, boilers, heat pumps and geoexchange systems that meet certain efficiency requirements. Terasen Gas also has a Switch ‘n’ Shrink program where homeowners are eligible for a $1,000 grant for switching from oil to an ENERGY STAR furnace or boiler that meets certain efficiency requirements. Making this switch will result in significant energy cost savings. In many cases with the LiveSmart and Terasen grants the payout for this upgrade has been less than a year. More information can be found at www.livesmartbc.ca and www.terasengas.com.
Chantal Keerak is a professional mechanical engineer. Her Revelstoke-based company, VerdaTech Energy Management and Consulting BC, provides heating and ventilating system design and energy efficiency assessments for residential and commercial buildings throughout B.C.