Can Your Furnace Help You Stay Healthy This Winter? Experts Say Yes!
If there is one part of the body that is really in the limelight this year, it would have to be the lungs.
We are all talking about them, thinking about them and trying to do everything we can to keep toxic or infectious particles out of them!
Despite our best intentions and efforts however, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Ontario.
And now we are heading into another long, cold, dry Canadian winter, with cold and flu season still up ahead.
What does all this have to do with your furnace? As it turns out, your furnace can become your ally in keeping your lungs clean, strong and healthy this winter - read on to find out how!
If Your Furnace Is Dirty, So Are Your Lungs
We now know that COVID-19 is airborne. We recently also learned that just wearing masks and observing social distancing is still not enough protection against catching the virus.
The American Lung Association states that there is a direct link between residential heating emissions and lung health.
In other words, a dirty furnace equals dirty lungs.
This year, taking time to schedule your annual preventative furnace maintenance can do more than prevent an untimely and expensive mid-winter heating outage. This one small choice can potentially make the difference between catching COVID-19 and staying healthy.
A poorly maintained furnace can potentially emit a toxic cocktail of volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and airborne particulate solids.
This is especially the case with gas furnace systems, but is still an issue with all types of HVAC systems.
Inhaling these toxic emissions can lead to a wide variety of well-documented respiratory health symptoms including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, inflammation of the respiratory passages, asthma attacks, chest constriction and decreased lung function.
If Your Furnace Has Clean Lungs, You Have Cleaner Lungs
Research studies have confirmed we are more stressed now than we were at this time last year.
As stress levels go up, so do levels of infection and illness.
This has many of us grasping at straws for something - anything - to do to protect ourselves and our families.
Rising stress can also cause us to overlook the obvious fix we can take care of right now.
That fix is your furnace filter.
If your lungs are the filters of your body, then your furnace's air filter is the lungs of your HVAC system.
It is true there has been some ongoing concern about how to safely handle air filter changes during the global pandemic, but the general consensus now is that it is much safer to change your air filter regularly than to leave it in place for too long.
The reason for this is simple: COVID-19 is airborne. The more solid particles floating in your indoor air, the more transported airborne coronavirus droplets have to attach to. So, the cleaner your indoor air remains, the fewer vehicles those droplets have to reach you!
Best practices state that you should use the highest quality furnace filter that your HVAC system is rated to operate with. This will keep particles like dust, dirt, ash, pollen and pet dander out of your furnace and out of your indoor air supply.
Then you can add a standalone HEPA filtration system and/or an ultraviolet air purification system to work with your existing furnace.
Change out your furnace filter at least every 30 days or more frequently as needed. Bi-Temp in Belleville, Ontario can provide you with the highest quality furnace filter for your HVAC system. Contact our qualified technicians today for more information!
What to Expect When You Schedule Preventative Furnace Maintenance Service
Preventative furnace maintenance service is designed to achieve three big goals:
1. Give your furnace a thorough exterior and interior cleaning.
2. Make minor tune-ups and repairs to prevent a major repair or sudden outage.
3. Ensure your furnace is operating safely and efficiently.
Amazingly, all three of these goals can typically be achieved in a service call of one hour or less, but scheduling preventative furnace maintenance also achieves a fourth, less visible goal. A goal that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, states could be the most important goal of all for fighting COVID-19 this winter.
Simply put, it gives you peace of mind.
When your peace of mind increases, your stress level decreases.
And when your stress level decreases, your immune functionality improves.
The moment your preventative furnace maintenance service concludes, you will know you have a furnace that is clean, safe and economical to use. You can breathe a sigh of relief - literally.
Other Indoor Air Quality Aids for a Safer Winter
These are additional safety precautions you can take to improve the quality of your indoor air.
1. Don't bring airborne toxins into your home.
Smoking or vaping, burning candles or incense, using commercial cleaners or so-called "air fresheners" and chemical-laden personal care products are not going to be friends to your lungs this winter.
2. Install a whole-home or portable HEPA air filter.
HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air. A portable or whole-home HEPA air filter can remove even the smallest airborne aerosol infectious coronavirus droplets.
Contact Bi-Temp in Quinte for the highest quality HEPA air filters for your heating system this winter.
3. Add a portable or whole-home ultraviolet air purifier.
Ultraviolet air purification mimics the protection offered by our own su, but inside your space. These systems use a synthetic form of the most powerful band of natural ultraviolet light - UV-C.
When UV light comes into contact with airborne or aerosol coronavirus droplets, the light damages the viral RNA so it can no longer replicate to infect you and your family.
Are you interested in installing a portable or whole home ultraviolet air purifier? Contact Bi-Temp in Belleville today for the highest quality UV Air Purifier options.
Get in Touch With Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville
Click here to schedule your preventative annual furnace maintenance and tune-up with Bi-Temp. We now offer safe, contactless service, invoicing and payment options.
Essential Furnace Maintenance for a Safe and Healthy Fall
It is FINALLY official - fall has arrived!
While it is true that we have another full month or so to go before temperatures start their downward spiral, you don't want to wait until the big chill arrives to discover that your furnace isn't up to the task.
If ever there was a year when you want your home and workplace heating equipment functioning safely and at peak efficiency, this would be the year!
Essential preventative furnace maintenance isn't just about trimming dollars and cents off your bottom line this year. It is about safeguarding your health.
In fact, taking safety precautions now could actually lower your risk of contracting not only COVID-19, but also cold and flu germs.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you avoided both COVID-19 and cold and flu this year? Read on to learn how timely essential furnace maintenance from your trusted Bi-Temp Heating and Cooling company may help you achieve this goal.
FACT: Cleaner Air Is Safer Air
Regardless of what the threat may be from year to year, this fact remains constant:
Cleaner air is always going to be safer air.
Add to this that the three biggest cold season health threats - COVID-19, colds and flu - are all airborne.
In fact, COVID-19 cases here in Ontario are already on the rise yet again. To that point, recent news reports warn of a "more challenging" second wave of COVID-19 coming to Ontario this fall
The reason is simple: we are headed back indoors to wait out the long, cold and often dry winter together.
Worryingly, data shows that the single greatest accelerator of COVID-19 cases is larger concentrations of people in enclosed spaces together for longer time periods.
This makes the number one safety factor the quality of the air we are all breathing. This is where our qualified HVAC technicians at Bi-Temp in Belleville come in! We provide the right knowledge, the right heating and cooling products and the right service to ensure that you are breathing in clean air.
Three Important Benefits of Preventative Furnace Maintenance
When most people think about preventative furnace maintenance, they think about preventing home fires and increasing energy efficiency.
These are two of the three biggest benefits of scheduling fall furnace maintenance.
The third benefit, as you just read about, is improved air quality.
And this third benefit is perhaps the most important of all as we face down the continued threat of COVID-19 this winter season.
Does Your Poorly Maintained Furnace Make You Sick?
If you are like most of our customers, you haven't powered on your furnace since early this year. It has been months since your furnace has had to do anything more taxing than sitting idly by, gathering dust.....lots and lots of dust.
Dust, dirt, debris, insect waste and remains, pollen, mould and mildew, bacteria, pet dander - all of these micro-particles have drifted down and settled into and onto your blower motor and fan blades, evaporator and condenser coils, belts and other movable parts.
Have you ever wondered what causes that signature "burning smell" so many furnaces emit when powered on for the first time each fall? That smell comes from part of all that debris burning away.
The rest gets pushed out and back into your indoor air supply. Then you breathe it in. Then your respiratory passages and lungs have to work harder to clean the air and filter out micro-toxins as you breathe.
With a part of your immune system constantly engaged in this low-level resistance work, it is easier for more serious threats like cold, flu and COVID-19 to slip in unchallenged and take hold.
How DOES Preventative Furnace Maintenance Help You To Stay Healthier?
If you are like most of our Bi-Temp customers, you have probably been reading a lot about air cleaners and air filters lately.
Powerful indoor air quality appliances such as HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration systems and ultraviolet air purifiers are big news this year.
The typical residential or commercial HVAC system cannot handle high-density MERV 17-20 or HEPA air filters. However, the option exists to retrofit an existing HVAC system with a standalone HEPA air filtration system and an ultraviolet purification unit.
COVID-19 has hit a lot of people in the wallet this year though, and not all of our customers have the budget for these types of radical indoor air quality upgrades.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to upgrade your indoor air quality without going into the red financially.
A simple preventative furnace maintenance cleaning and tune-up with our Bi-Temp furnace technicians will remove solid sediment and micro-particulates that could otherwise serve as tiny transport units for COVID-19 droplets, cold and flu germs.
The less floating matter you have in your indoor air, the less likely it is that invading infectious droplets will be able to find transportation that will allow them to stay airborne for longer and find their way into your lungs.
In other words, the more micro-particulate solids you remove from the air, the safer you will be. Anything you can do to achieve this goal will stack the health deck in your favour.
The Three Most Essential Furnace Maintenance Tasks for Better Health
We truly do understand that some of our regular Bi-Temp customers have more limited financial means this year, due to COVID-19's impact. Our technicians have come up with three affordable maintenance tasks that can hugely benefit your indoor air quality without costing you a lot of money.
If you can do nothing else, be sure you tend to these three essential furnace maintenance tasks:
1. Change your furnace filter at least every 30 days.
2. Clean and dust the air registers, return grills and exhaust vents.
3. Remove all debris and clean the outside and inside units.
Reach out to schedule affordable preventative furnace maintenance service to protect your health this winter.
Get in Touch With Bi-Temp LTD. In Belleville
Our enhanced pandemic safety protocols at Bi-Tempt LTD. in Belleville, Ontario, ensure we can continue providing you with prompt and professional 24/7 emergency service.
Rewind even just a few months ago and business owners were going about their days as usual - excited about implementing their carefully-laid out New Year's plans.
We were all anticipating the opportunity to launch into a whole new decade with gumption and gusto, generating new sales, welcoming new customers, evolving our businesses and achieving our goals.
Little did we know just how much gumption and gusto we would need to weather the storm up ahead. COVID-19 has shaken many businesses down to the studs, forcing some out of business and the rest to get creative at unprecedented levels in order to stay afloat.
Now, at last, the province of Ontario is slowly and tentatively beginning to open back up again. Some businesses are already welcoming local customers again while other businesses continue to operate for online or curb-side customers only.
Why the hesitation? There is still so much more to learn about in terms of how to keep ourselves, our staff, our families and our customers safe.
Thankfully, we also know a great deal more than we did about how the new novel coronavirus spreads. This has helped researchers identify three potentially effective methods to limit its impact - ventilation, air filtration and air purification.
Understanding Ventilation, Filtration and Purification
COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of new terms to learn. For instance, when washing your hands it is vital to understand the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, as well as which one can do the best job in killing active coronavirus particles.
In the same way, now that breaking research has all but confirmed that coronavirus can travel via air currents - sometimes at great distances - it is important to know the difference between terms like ventilation, filtration and purification.
Which one does what? How do they work together? If you have to choose, which is most important? Let's find out.
What Is Ventilation?
Ventilation refers to adding fresh air to a space. This is different from circulation. Air circulation refers to air movement - simply moving the air around.
Circulation on its own can't dispel or disperse coronavirus droplets. But when circulation is combined with ventilation, the risk of infection via airborne coronavirus droplets decreases.
What you need to remember here is that ventilation equals additional quantities of incoming fresh air.
What Is Filtration?
Air filtration refers to separating solid particles from air, liquid or gas. Filtration can be accomplished through a number of mechanisms - biological, mechanical or physical.
The type of filtration we are most familiar with is the air filter on our furnace. Every so often you have to take out your air filter and either clean it and put it back, or replace it with a new one.
Here, what you want to remember is that filtration REMOVES solid particles from the air.
What Is Purification?
Purification is a process that hinges on first categorizing some substances as "pure" and some substances as "impure" and then rendering (neutralizing or changing) the impurities apart from the pure air.
There are different methods of purifying the air, including ionic, ozone, heat or light. Ultraviolet light is the purification method recommended for targeting airborne coronavirus droplets.
With purification, what you need to remember is that the process primarily works on gases and liquids, rather than solids.
Improve Your Indoor Ventilation
Last month we blogged about the confirmed link between dirty air and increased COVID-19 risk.
While concerns about dirty outdoor air are legitimate and documented, the toxicity of our indoor air has long been a much greater source of concern.
The EPA has confirmed that, on average, our indoor air is up to five times more toxic than our outdoor air. Indoor air is the air we breathe for 90 percent of the average day. For this reason, it is indoors where our greatest ventilation needs attention.
The simplest way to add more fresh air to any space is to open a window or door. Turning on a ceiling or floor fan helps circulate that fresh air faster to diffuse concentrations of coronavirus droplets and reduce risk of infection.
Additionally, upgrading air intake vents, adding a heat recovery ventilator, equalizing air pressure throughout a multi-room space and increasing air flow are all proven methods to increase ventilation.
Upgrade to HEPA Air Filtration
Standard residential and commercial HVAC systems typically do not have the capacity to work efficiently with HEPA grade air filters without risk of causing the blower motor to overheat dangerously.
These incredibly dense, intricate filters are rated to trap and remove up to 99.97 percent of airborne solids - particles as small as 1/100th the size of a single human hair.
A loophole is to install a standalone HEPA air filtration unit that bypasses the blower motor and works directly with your ducts. Portable models are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Add Ultraviolet Air Purification
There is no purification agent more powerful than our sun. Ultraviolet band C is the strongest band of ultraviolet light emitted by our sun. Synthetic short-wave UV-C radiation can effectively penetrate, damage and neutralize coronavirus on contact.
Strong evidence now exists to support coronavirus transmission via air ducts over longer distances. Once coronavirus liquid particles start to evaporate, they get lighter and can become airborne.
But when those liquid droplets come in contact with ultraviolet-C light, they are damaged and cannot infect you. This is one of several reasons why the province of Ontario is now recommending moving group activities outdoors whenever possible.
The best way to add UV air purification is to install an ultraviolet air purification unit to work with your HVAC system's ducts. Portable UV air purifiers are a good choice for ductless spaces.
Get in Touch
HVAC, electrical, air quality and plumbing have been deemed essential services in Ontario.
As one of the oldest heating and cooling companies in Belleville, Ontario, Bi-Temp is dedicated to offering the highest quality products, service and knowledge to the Quinte area and beyond. With our highly qualified technicians, we bring years of experience and professionalism in providing your residential, commercial and industrial business with quality heating and cooling services. Please read our COVID-19 contact guide to learn about the safety measures we have implemented to serve you safely!
On one level, heat is heat. You know when you have it and you sure notice when you don’t!
But when it comes time to replace your existing system, suddenly it seems as if there is a world of new terminology to master first.
Perhaps you inherited your current heating system along with your home when you moved in. Maybe you have space heaters, radiant heat, a central furnace, a heating boiler or a heat pump.
If your system is old or you’re not pleased with the overall performance or the cost to run your current heating system, you may wonder if a change could do your body (and budget) some good.
In this article, to help you choose, we take a closer look at the most popular types of heating appliances today and explain what each system does.
What Is a Heater?
The word “heater” is a catch-all term.
It could mean anything from a wood fireplace to a geothermal heat pump, although in most cases, "heater" is used interchangeably with two heat sources: a furnace or a space heater.
What Is a Furnace?
The modern furnace began its evolution as a simple enclosed oven. Today’s furnace has evolved to run using a variety of fuel sources, including electricity, gas, oil and propane or a combination thereof.
The gas furnace is the most popular for residential and commercial use today. Natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel and tends to be a more economical fuel choice overall.
Some newer high-efficiency furnace models can take both propane and natural gas, giving you options as fuel prices fluctuate.
There are two types of furnace systems: central (ducted) and ductless.
What Is a Heating Boiler?
As the name implies, a heating boiler boils water to generate heat. By transforming water into steam, the boiler's heat energy becomes easy to transport.
The most common way that steam is transported is through pipes or ducts.
One of the most popular aspects of heating boilers is that they pull double duty: heating your home and your hot water too. They are also efficient in that any unused steam is sent back to the starting line to be reused.
What Is a Radiant Heater?
Radiant heat uses the same principles as the sun. When you stand in a sunbeam, you instantly warm up.
Radiant heaters use the same electromagnetic, infrared waves to heat whatever those waves encounter. In other words, they heat you and not the surrounding air.
There are two main types of radiant heaters: boiler-based and electricity-based. If you have (or choose to switch to) a heating boiler, the type of heat generated is radiant. Electric radiant heaters use electricity as power to generate the same basic type of heat waves.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump works by pumping heat into or out of your home depending on the season.
In the winter, a heat pump will gather the extra heat energy in the incoming air and use it to pre-heat your home, lowering your heating bills.
In the summer, a heat pump will gather the extra heat energy in your indoor air and move it outside to reduce the burden on your air conditioner in cooling down incoming air. Again, you benefit, with lower cooling bills.
There are two main types of heat pump: air source and ground source, or geothermal.
Air source heat pumps are more compact, much easier to install and more affordable. Ground source heat pumps are wildly efficient (up to 400 percent in some cases) but are more of an up-front investment and more complex to install.
What Are Ductless Heaters?
In North America, ducted homes are fairly common. But in other parts of the world, homes with central ductwork are actually rather uncommon.
Ductless heating systems have become popular outside of North America for their quiet, compact and highly efficient heat output. The inside component is wall- or ceiling-mounted and connected to the outside component via a thin cable. There can be one or many inside components, depending on the size of the space, which also allows for zoned temperature control.
The most common system is called a “ductless mini-split.” This system provides both cooling and heating.
What Type of Heating System Do You Need?
If you are ready to upgrade your existing heat system or are choosing a heater for new construction, you may wonder which system will serve you best.
This is a great question! It is smart to research potential efficiency gains and energy bill savings before your current system calls it quits. If your current furnace or heating boiler is 15 years or older, replacing it could net you anywhere from five to 15 percent gains in efficiency according to Energy Star.
Choosing the most cost-effective new system requires analyzing how much heater you need to efficiently warm your space. This, in turn, can require a complex set of calculations and is best delegated to an HVAC industry professional.
Get in Touch
Do you need some help thinking through your heating options and choosing the best system for your space? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Purchasing a new furnace system is one of the biggest decisions most homeowners ever have to face. Happily, once purchased, a new furnace typically lasts for a good 15 years with basic preventative maintenance.
However, in many cases, a home may change hands one or more times before the furnace ever needs replacing... and the homeowner tasked with the challenge may have never researched or selected a new furnace before.
That homeowner could be you, reading this article right now.
If so, we want you to know about a new furnace option that provides more flexibility with fuel choice and more efficiency (thus lower energy bills) than ever before.
This furnace is going to have a number of features that give you a great deal of control over its operation and what you have to spend to stay warm in winter. Read on to learn about the new breed of high-efficiency, dual-fuel furnace you are guaranteed to fall in love with.
Fuel Conversion from Natural Gas to Propane Is Now Possible
Here at Bi-Temp, we are proud to stock, sell, repair, maintain and install the full line of Carrier furnaces.
Carrier is a company at the leading edge of furnace and HVAC technology and offers furnaces for every budget and size of space, as well as every type of heating need.
One of the neatest features that nearly all Carrier furnaces offer is the option of switching from natural gas fuel to propane.
This innovation was the result of a long-time request from Carrier’s Canadian customers, because fuel prices can and do fluctuate from one province or region to the next, and often from rural to urban areas as well.
While making the switch back and forth between natural gas and propane (or vice versa) is not considered a do-it-yourself task, it is relatively easy and certainly quite affordable to accomplish.
A natural gas Carrier furnace can now run on propane gas as well by replacing burner orifices, installing specialized screws and switches, and making certain of other minor modifications.
What the Average Homeowner Spends on Heating
Keeping your home warm during our notoriously rough and tumble winter season is one of the biggest expenses of owning a home here in Canada.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that a full 61 percent of most homeowners’ typical energy bill is devoted to just one utility: home heating.
To that point, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario’s (FAO) recent homeowner survey indicates the average household spends about $2,358 per year just on energy.
Sixty-one percent of $2,358 is just over $1,438. That is quite a lot of money to spend just on heating! During some months, heating bills alone can readily top $300.
NOTE: For actual costs, you can use the easy formula of [my annual energy costs] x 0.61 = [my annual heating costs] to adjust the FAO’s numbers.
How Furnace Efficiency Lowers Your Heating Bills
If you have an older furnace that is nearing its less-than-golden years, you may be getting anywhere from 70 to 80 percent energy efficiency.
This is because most older units are equipped with only a single heat exchanger, which means a lot of potentially usable heat gets wasted with every cycle.
New high-efficiency Carrier furnaces are equipped with a secondary heat exchanger, or condenser. This cutting-edge feature is able to recycle otherwise lost heat energy to recapture 10-plus percent of the heat generated from the combustion process itself.
It also brings the efficiency rating up to anywhere from 90 to 98.5 percent for today’s modern furnace.
So what might that look like in terms of energy savings?
We just learned that the typical homeowner spends around $1,438 per year just to run the furnace in winter. Based on this general number, what would you save if you got an extra 10 to 20 percent efficiency from the fuel you are purchasing?
An extra 10 percent efficiency would net you around $144 back in your pocket. An extra 20 percent efficiency would get you to the $288 range – that’s saving almost a full 30 days of heating costs each year!
Meet the New Breed of High-Efficiency Carrier Furnaces
Today’s Carrier natural gas (or propane gas) and oil furnaces are designed with a wide range of homes and homeowners in mind.
But all Carrier furnaces deliver high-efficiency performance to a range of 90 percent to 98.5 percent AFUE (average fuel utilization efficiency).
Carrier’s premium Infinity® series furnaces each feature quiet, multi-stage operation and even home-wide humidity control. Certain models also feature the proprietary Greenspeed™ adaptable modulating gas valve, which can adjust heat output precisely in 1 percent increments (range 40 to 100) to adapt heating needs to seasonal shifts.
Carrier’s mid-range Performance™ series furnaces find the perfect middle ground between premium perks and affordable budget-friendly features. Many models feature Carrier’s proprietary SmartEvap™ and ideal Humidity System® technology to help balance humidity levels seasonally.
Carrier’s budget-range Comfort™ series furnaces provide the perfect blend of economy and efficiency for smaller spaces and smaller budgets. These simpler furnace systems also incorporate many of the latest comfort control features to keep you warm and cozy for years to come.
All three Carrier furnace lines offer the option of customized operation and thermostat control with programmable thermostats.
Get in Touch
Are you ready to upgrade your furnace to a new high-efficiency, fuel-saving model? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Fall is a time when many Ontario homeowners’ thoughts quite naturally turn to pondering the challenges of the winter season ahead.
Canadian winters are no joke! Not only is winter the longest season in our year here in Canada, but it is also the most expensive and undoubtedly the hardest on our HVAC systems.
With the potential for as much as five months’ worth of extra cold, snowy, extreme weather lurking just around the corner, now is definitely the time to schedule your fall furnace fire safety inspection and preventative maintenance check-up.
Trust us – your wallet will love you for it and you’ll have peace of mind.
How Furnace Preventative Maintenance Helps You Save
It is no secret that winter brings some of the highest energy bills of the whole year.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) estimates that a whopping 61 percent of most homeowners’ annual energy bills goes straight to heating.
According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO), the typical homeowner spends around $2,358 per year on energy bills.
This means that about $1,438 of that amount is devoted to keeping warm each winter.
According to the Energy Star program, taking the time to perform basic air sealing and weather stripping combined with preventative duct and furnace maintenance can shave up to 20 percent off of the top of your winter heating bills.
That would mean an extra $287 back in your pocket. Considering that the average cost of a preventative furnace inspection and tune-up is around $150 (less if you opt in for an annual protection plan), right away you have saved nearly $200!
Why Furnace Preventative Maintenance Keeps You Safe
We haven’t yet talked to any client who doesn’t find the idea of saving $200 to $300 per year on heating costs quite appealing.
However, there is an even more compelling reason than cost savings to schedule your preventative fall furnace maintenance: fire safety.
The National Fire Protection Association reports (NFPA) that heating equipment is currently one of the leading causes of home fires throughout North America.
Not only has heating equipment caused 15 percent of all home fires historically, but it has also been the cause of 19 percent of all fire-related fatalities.
The number one reason cited for heating equipment-related home fires is a simple failure to clean and maintain the home heating system. Here, four types of systems are especially implicated: space heaters, stationary central heaters, fireplaces or chimneys and water heaters.
And consider this: almost half of all heating equipment-related home fires occur during December, January and February, which are just up ahead on our calendar.
What Is Included With a Furnace Safety Inspection and Maintenance Checkup?
An annual furnace safety inspection, tune-up and maintenance service is the best way to make sure your HVAC system is not a fire risk or an energy hog.
Here is what you can expect to happen during your preventative furnace maintenance service:
Thorough cleaning of the exterior and interior of furnace components
Cleaning of interior and exterior coils
Test of refrigerant levels with leak detection (if indicated)
Test and cleaning of blower motor, amp draw and air intake grill
Test for leaks, fumes, pilot light or ignition, pressure, burners
Test and repairing or replacing of thermocouple (if indicated)
Inspection of all systems and parts
Recommendations for minor maintenance, lubrication and repairs
Thermostat accuracy test and calibration (if needed)
Change or cleaning/replacement of air filter
Checking and cleaning drain pan and line (if needed)
Test of air flow through air registers and exhaust vents
Test of electrical connections and outlets
Test of all furnace safety controls and combustion gases (including carbon monoxide)
Full test cycle to evaluate overall performance
At the end of this comprehensive safety inspection and maintenance checkup, your furnace will be in good shape to achieve maximum energy efficiency and reliable performance throughout the winter season.
Additional Timely Ways to Save on Energy This Winter
Saving up to 20 percent on winter heating bills with an annual furnace tune-up is always appreciated. Here are several additional ways you can save even more on heating bills this winter!
We always love informing our clients that you can save up to 15 percent on heating costs with a programmable thermostat.
Change your air filter monthly
It is amazing how many homeowners forget this one simple task, but taking the time to clean or change your furnace air filter each month can trim your energy bill by as much as 15 percent.
It is also one of the most protective actions you can take to guard against home fires this winter.
Seal and insulate windows, doors and structure
You can save up to 32 percent on year-round HVAC energy costs by adding weather stripping, insulation and seals around windows and doors.
In most cases, this is an easy DIY weekend project if you are handy and so inclined, but we are also happy to take care of this energy-saving task for you.
Seal and insulate ductwork
Leaking or sagging ducts lose up to 30 percent of the heated or cooled air your HVAC system generates – before that air ever reaches your air registers!
You can save an additional 20 to 30 percent by having your ductwork cleaned, maintained and insulated.
Upgrade your furnace
If this is the year you decide it is time to upgrade to a new energy-efficient furnace system, you will save up to 15 percent, according to Energy Star. If you are replacing a heat pump, your estimated annual energy savings is 20 percent.
Get in Touch
Are you ready to save money on energy all winter while investing in your own peace of mind? We can help!
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Building your own home or custom workspace can be so exciting. Finally, you can have everything just the way you want it instead of having to make someone else’s vision work for you.
But having the chance to bring your own vision to life can also add to the stress of the process – you want to do everything right the first time. Plus, if you are like most homeowners, your budget isn’t unlimited and mistakes can cost you.
Choosing your new-construction HVAC system may not be the most glamorous aspect of your new-build process, but get it right and we guarantee it will be one of the comfiest!
From heating and cooling options to ductwork decisions, cost estimates to installation approaches, learn what you need to know to make the perfect HVAC decision.
1. To Duct or Not to Duct
In past eras, any new construction consisting of more than two rooms would automatically be a candidate for ducting and installation of a central HVAC system.
Central HVAC systems with a traditional air conditioner paired with a traditional furnace are still the reigning favorite and give you the most options for how to combine your heating and cooling equipment.
Heat pumps are becoming more popular today and also pair well with ductwork. Compact and energy-efficient air-to-air heat pumps are great for smaller spaces. For larger spaces with more available land, geothermal heat pumps offer the greatest energy efficiency and a very long useful life.
But today, you have another cooling option that doesn’t require ductwork: the ductless mini-split.
A ductless mini-split offers quiet, efficient cooling and heating along with the option for zoned thermostat control, which means you can adjust the temperature as needed for up to eight different zones.
Ductless components are non-invasive, simple and compact. The indoor component can be installed on the wall or ceiling. The outdoor component connects to the indoor system by means of a single slim cable.
If you live in an area that doesn’t require air conditioning, a heating boiler paired with a radiator system is yet another option for non-ducted heating. As a perk, a heating boiler can heat your water, too.
2. Fuel Type: Electric, Gas, Propane, Oil, Off-Grid, Combination?
Homes and workplaces today have a dizzying array of options when it comes to fuel.
Fossil fuels are slowly being phased out in favor of more planet-friendly resources, but this process takes time and sometimes traditional fuel sources are still the most readily available and economical choice.
It can be smart to survey power costs for your area before deciding to go all-electric, gas or propane-powered, for instance. Don’t just look at the price today but also examine the trends going back a few years to get a good idea of what you will spend annually (talking to your neighbors can also help here).
Off-grid options like solar and geothermal can require more up-front investment. However, to compensate, they are historically low-maintenance options with a useful life of up to 50 years, meaning these systems typically pay for themselves early on and can even make you money if you can sell unused stored power back to the power company.
In many cases, it is possible to mix and match electric, gas and off-grid options to conserve energy and keep your power bills manageable.
3. Ventilation: How & How Much
As concerns about our planet’s dwindling natural resources continue to increase, there is rising pressure on the construction industry to create new air-tight construction practices to conserve energy.
This has been great for the average homeowner’s power bill but not so great for people’s health. As indoor spaces become more airtight, the ventilation that ensures a continuous supply of fresh, oxygenated air is increasingly absent.
This means it is no longer enough to open a window or door on nice days, especially during the hot summers and long cold winters when the result is a corresponding need to crank the cool or heat.
Ceiling fans aid greatly in air circulation, which can help you conserve energy and lower power bills by inching your thermostat up without feeling noticeably warmer, but they don’t serve a useful ventilation purpose.
In the Toronto area, all new construction is now mandated to include a heat recovery ventilation system – you can think of it as a set of mechanical lungs for your home, since most new construction spaces can no longer “breathe” on their own.
Heat recovery ventilation not only ensures a steady supply of fresh incoming air but it also helps conserve otherwise wasted heat energy and balance the humidity inside your home.
4. Energy Efficiency Appliances & Fixtures
Once you have created your master list of systems and accessories, it is time to get down to the business of choosing the specific appliances and fixtures to outfit your new space.
From low-flow faucets and fixtures to high-efficiency HVAC units to tank vs. tankless water heaters and more, today’s appliances and accessories elevate conserving energy to a fine art.
Choosing the perfect mix of energy-efficient appliances and fixtures is one part selecting complementary systems and one part ensuring your space is set up to maximize their impact.
Selecting the right insulation, applying strategic weather stripping, identifying the optimal thermostat location, installing the right window type and even choosing landscaping that provides shade can all further reduce your carbon footprint and your monthly energy bill.
Why Choose Bi-Temp for Your New-Construction HVAC Needs?
We are licensed and insured to consult on air conditioning, heating, water and other needs for new-construction projects throughout Ontario.
We can also help you with expert installation on all makes and models of new systems and apply on your behalf for all available energy efficiency credits and rebates.
Get in Touch
Give us a call at 613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Heating boilers are particularly common and popular in colder climates that are farther from the equator, such as what we experience here in Canada.
Then again, forced air furnace systems are popular in the same types of climates for the same reasons.
You may have more familiarity with one system over the other depending on where you have lived and in what climate you grew up.
In this post, we take a look at the similarities and differences between a heating boiler and a traditional furnace system so you can learn more about each to help you decide which you should have.
Meet the Forced Air Furnace
If you are used to having warm air blowing down onto your head or up at your feet, chances are good the appliance doing all that blowing is a forced air furnace.
A forced air furnace uses a heat exchanger to blow (“force”) air into a duct network to keep you warm.
This heating system heats the air, which in turn raises the temperature in the room and heats you.
A furnace can run on electricity, natural gas, propane gas, oil or wood.
Meet the Heating Boiler
A heating boiler uses hot water or steam to send heat energy through a distribution system. That heat then radiates out into the room (hence the term “radiant heater”) to warm you up.
Heating boilers can work with radiant flooring, wall pipes, hydronic air handlers (a type of duct system) or old-fashioned radiators to do their work.
A heating boiler can run on electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, coal or wood.
In some cases, heating boilers can also accommodate your hot water needs.
The Forced Air Furnace & Heating Boiler Go Head to Head
Now let’s take a closer look at each system and see how they stack up in terms of initial cost, ease of installation, maintenance and more!
Initial purchase and installation costs
There is no doubt that the forced air furnace wins hands down in the initial cost department—that is, as long as you have an existing central duct system already in place and you have ready access to your chosen fuel type.
A recent survey showed that the cost for a new furnace plus installation ranges from $1,950 to $5,780.
However, heating boilers can also deliver your hot water, which can make them look like the real bargain if you need to replace the water heater too. The national average for purchasing a new heating boiler plus installation ranges from $3,418 to $7,672.
Overall energy efficiency
The energy efficiency of a forced air furnace or heating boiler is expressed as an AFUE number. AFUE stands for “annual fuel utilization efficiency.”
A new forced air furnace will generally deliver anywhere from 80 to 97.5 percent energy efficiency, not counting losses due to duct transmission, which can add up to 35 percent or greater.
New heating boilers can deliver between 87 and 90+ percent energy efficiency depending on the fuel source and extra features such as an electric pilot light and sealed combustion to minimize wasted energy.
In most cases, you will realize slightly higher energy efficiency by choosing a heating boiler since you won't face energy losses as air passes through the air duct network.
The amount of space your new system requires will depend on what type of system you select. If you opt for an outside-only unit, the only inside space you need will be whatever is required to install a distribution system (ducts, pipes, etc.).
Inside-outside furnace systems typically install the interior component in the basement, attic or crawl space.
A multi-purpose heating boiler equipped with a tank for hot water may be wall mount-equipped to conserve floor space.
If either system requires interior floor space inside your main living area, typically the minimum floor space required is equivalent to what a free-standing floor washer and dryer system would need.
Both a furnace and a heating boiler will need at least once-annual maintenance and safety inspections for both energy efficiency and safety reasons.
Maintenance for the typical forced air furnace is slightly more costly and labour-intensive because there are simply more components to maintain.
You will need to change the furnace filters regularly (typically every month during winter). Other needs include cleaning your air registers and exhaust vents, and periodically having your indoor air duct system cleaned and maintained.
Heating boilers have fewer components to inspect and maintain. Boilers don’t use filters and most don’t have any ductwork at all. However, if your boiler has a tank, you will need to drain and clean it once per year along with its annual safety inspection.
New models of forced air furnaces and heating boilers have the same average life expectancy of 15 to 30 years.
What can impact the useful life of your new system is how well you maintain it, plus your use patterns. A well-maintained furnace or boiler can last into the triple decades.
What About Air Conditioning?
A forced air furnace system is still the most popular heating system because the presence of a duct system makes it easy to deliver both warm and cool air throughout your space.
However, it is relatively simple to install air conditioning via a new energy-efficient ductless mini-split, which uses a zone system to help you control your costs for cooling each zone in your home.
And if you have an existing air duct system but you want to convert over to a heating boiler system for heat, the air ducts can still come in quite handy for delivering cool air.
Get in Touch
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Heat pump technology is not new, although it is still lesser-known to many. In fact, it is the same technology your refrigerator uses to keep your food cold, safe and fresh!
In past decades, heat pumps have been less common in colder climates like Canada’s.
Today, this is starting to change. Heat pumps have a lot to offer, from lowering your heating and cooling bills to lessening your impact on the environment.
In this article, we review the different types of heat pumps and what each has to offer so you can pick the one that is best for you.
Switching to a Heat Pump Can Save You a Lot!
According to the Department of Energy, a heat pump has the ability to provide the same basic heating and cooling for as little as one-quarter of the cost of what you pay to have a traditional air conditioner and furnace system do that job.
What might that look like in terms of annual cost savings? Let’s take a look!
According to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario, the average Ontario-area homeowner pays $2,358 per year for energy.
Natural Resources Canada reports that, on average, heating consumes around 61 percent of household energy use and cooling consumes 3 percent of the same, adding up to 64 percent.
What this means is the typical Ontarian spends around $1,509 annually for heating and cooling. If this is true for you, imagine now that you have switched to a heat pump for your heating and cooling needs. This trims three-quarters of your costs, leaving you with an annual bill of just $377.
Now it is easier to see why heat pumps are starting to catch on in a big way here in Canada!
3 Main Types of Heat Pumps
There are three main types of heat pumps in use for residential spaces today. They are the air-to-air heat pump, the water source heat pump and the geothermal heat pump.
While each type of heat pump does the same basic thing, how they get the energy to do their work is slightly different. This difference can make one type of heat pump a better fit for certain spaces than the others.
Air-to-air heat pump
The air-to-air heat pump, as its name suggests, “pumps” or moves heat energy in the air from one place to the other.
For example, in summer, an air-to-air heat pump moves heat energy out of your home to keep it cooler. In the winter, the process reverses: the heat pump moves heat energy from outside air into your home to pre-warm the air and keep your house warmer.
Air-to-air heat pumps are the least efficient of the three types of heat pumps, but they can still trim a whopping 50 percent off of your annual heating and cooling bills. Another perk is that this type of heat pump can help to move excess humidity out of your home to reduce the threat of mould and mildew.
Another advantage to this type of heat pump is that it comes in a ductless mini-split version.
Water source heat pump
The water source heat pump comes in two forms. One type is an air-to-air heat pump that heats and cools water rather than air. This type is called a “reverse cycle chiller” and can be used with existing radiant floor heating systems.
A second type of water source heat pump is a geothermal heat pump designed to move energy to and from a water source rather than the ground (hence the name).
A water source heat pump is going to be more efficient than an air-to-air heat pump, trimming up to 60 percent off your annual heating and cooling bill.
Geothermal heat pump
A geothermal heat pump moves energy to and from the ground. Sometimes called a ground source heat pump, it can trim your energy bill by 60 percent or more and also help with balancing indoor air humidity levels year-round.
There are two basic configurations to choose from with a geothermal heat pump: horizontal or vertical. The latter is best for residences where land space is at a premium.
What About a Heat Pump + Hot Water Heater?
Today’s heat pump technology is evolving quite rapidly and exploring many new ways to recycle energy that might otherwise be wasted.
Some heat pumps can be equipped with a device called a “de-superheater,” which recycles heat energy to heat your water two or even three times more efficiently than a traditional tank hot water heater.
Other Useful Heat Pump Perks
There are a number of additional perks built into many of today’s heat pump systems.
Some heat pumps designed for use in extremely cold climates have a built-in backup electric resistance heater or backup burner that will automatically take over should the need arise. Fuel options for a backup burner heat pump include oil, natural gas, propane, coal or wood.
Other heat pumps have unique motors that help maximize useful air flow while minimizing drafts and noise. Still others have what’s called a scroll compressor, which boosts efficiency and operating life while minimizing noise.
Today’s heat pumps can also integrate with zone systems just like traditional HVAC systems to help you conserve on heating and cooling costs in unused rooms.
Get Rebates or Credits for Converting to a Heat Pump!
Government or carrier rebates and incentives are often available for customers who convert to a heat pump. We can help you select and apply for all available incentives you qualify for.
Get in Touch
Here at Bi-Temp, we are proud to offer the Carrier and Mitsubishi heat pump lines. Contact us for help determining which type of heat pump system is right for you.
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.
Building a home is exciting! After so many years of trying to make a space designed by someone else work for you, you now get to create a space all your own.
Naturally, you want everything you choose for your dream home to be perfect—including your heating and cooling system.
There is just one tiny problem: you don't know a thing about furnaces! How can you be sure your new furnace is really going to be the right match for the size and layout of your new space?
In this post, we offer seven top tips to help you choose the perfect new furnace.
1. Choose Your Furnace Fuel Wisely
Electricity, natural gas, propane, oil, air source, geothermal, biomass… this group represents the most popular heating and cooling fuel types in use by homeowners today.
There are all kinds of factors that can play into which fuel you want to use for home temperature control.
If you are building a low-energy “green” home, you might be keen to use air source or geothermal energy via a heat pump.
Propane and natural gas are two clean-burning fuels that can be particularly smart choices in areas prone to power outages.
Electricity typically requires the least preparation up front and may require less of an up-front investment in appliance costs.
Oil is still popular in some areas but isn't always as economical or readily available.
If you are struggling to decide on one over the others, studying recent fuel price trends and researching initial appliance and setup costs can be helpful as a tie-breaker.
2. Get the Furnace Sizing Right the First Time
According to Green Building Advisor, the majority of furnaces installed in new construction homes today are still oversized for the space.
In past decades, this was standard practice. The thought process was that too much power was better than not enough. But today we know this does you as the homeowner and the environment a great disservice. A too-powerful HVAC system will draw more power and cost you more money without doing a better job.
With today’s technology, it is possible to size your new furnace precisely to fit your new space. By factoring in everything from square footage to number of windows to type of insulation to climate zone, you can determine the right size and configuration for your space.
3. Decide Whether or Not to Add Ducts
In past decades, central (ducted) HVAC systems have been the norm for multi-room spaces. Today, ducted systems are still popular, but they are not the only choice.
With the introduction of the ductless mini-split, a type of ductless system popular in Europe and Asia that is just now making its way to North America, it is possible to dispense with ductwork. This can be especially useful in more complicated spaces, where running ductwork becomes challenging.
Ductless mini-split systems divide your home into different zones. This can help you control heating and cooling costs by room to save money all year long and dispense with duct maintenance.
4. Is a Heating Boiler Better?
Of course, in all the discussion about which furnace to choose, it is easy to forget a furnace isn't actually your only choice!
While a furnace heats air, a boiler heats water to keep you warm. But each requires a different type of distribution system to get that heat where it needs to go.
With new construction that allows you to set up your distribution infrastructure, the choice often boils (pardon the pun) down to one of personal preference. Some people simply prefer one over the other.
Here, it can be helpful to know that a steam-based boiler requires a higher operating temperature than a hot water-based boiler, which can make a steam-based boiler slightly less efficient and thus more expensive to operate. But today, high efficiency steam boilers are available to lessen this gap.
5. What About an Air Source or Geothermal Heat Pump?
Across the landscape of heating and cooling options, it is true the air source and geothermal heat pump systems are still the new kids on the block. But each has some significant advantages to offer over more traditional HVAC systems in terms of providing eco-friendly, energy-efficient heating and cooling.
Both systems typically use ductwork like a traditional central HVAC system. However, some heat pumps can work without ducts or be integrated to work with radiant flooring.
By harnessing trapped energy stored in air or the ground/water, these heat pump systems give the energy efficiency rating of your home a major boost: up to 50 percent with an air-source heat pump and as much as 60 percent with a geothermal heat pump!
6. Claim Your Energy Efficiency Rebates and Credits!
Energy Star offers a number of rebates and/or credits as incentives to homeowners to make energy-efficient choices.
Natural Resources Canada maintains an active database detailing available rebates and credits by province, source and construction type (residential/commercial).
Your choice of contractor can be important here, since some credits and rebates require the contractor to submit on your behalf. Researching available incentives in advance can help you save money and make your decision of which HVAC system to invest in easier!
7. Don't Forget to Ventilate!
Today's low-energy, high-efficiency airtight construction standards may be great for your energy bill, but they aren't so good for indoor ventilation.
Talk to your contractor about adding a heat recovery ventilator to keep your indoor air fresh.
Get in Touch
Are you overwhelmed by sorting through your options for heating and cooling your new home? We can help!
Give us a call at 1-613-967-1066 or visit us online.