Gas fireplaces have increased in popularity over the past few years. For many homeowners, the attraction of
owning a gas fireplace lies in the following:
• the convenience of an on/off switch and an ever-present fuel supply
• the cleanliness factor (gas fireplaces generate no mess in terms of ashes, wood chips, bark, etc.)
• the elimination of chimney cleaning
• the safety of sealed combustion units, which offer little chance for toxic combustion gases to spill into the room
• the environmental benefits as compared with those of a conventional wood fireplace
Although gas fireplaces have been around for a few years, many homeowners disliked their “fake-looking,”
uninteresting flames. To counteract this negative perception of gas fireplaces, manufacturers have devoted
much effort to producing a yellow flame that more closely resembles the flame of a wood-burning fireplace, yet is
still clean-burning. As well, other aesthetic improvements have made gas fireplaces much more appealing to
homeowners. However, not all gas fireplaces are created equal. Some designs are extremely efficient, safe to
operate and provide a lot of heat. Others can be very inefficient, and vent-free technology can cause indoor air-
quality problems. It pays to be an informed consumer. By knowing what to look for and what to avoid, you can
select a gas fireplace that will suit your home’s decor, contribute to its heating needs and give you peace of mind.
HEATING & A/C
A WETT inspection, which stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, includes a thorough inspection of all
wood burning appliances such as stoves and open fireplaces, by a certified WETT inspector.
An inspection for the wood burning technologies in your home is important for a number of reasons. With wood
burning appliances, the potential for harmful pollutants to be released into your home as well as combustible
materials to ignite is increased, so it is important that these appliances are regularly inspected and properly
maintained. If you have a home that already includes one of these features, or you would like to purchase one
and have it installed in your home, having a WETT certified inspector or technician involved is a necessity.
WETT specialty inspections are also now being required as a part of the home insuring process. In fact, many
homeowners first hear about WETT specialty inspections because an insurance company asks that their
appliances be examined by a WETT certified inspector or during an Home Inspection the inspector should
indicate that ALL wood burning devices should be W.E.T.T. Inspected. In Canada, insurance companies
require homes using wood burning appliances to be thoroughly inspected by a professional and
cleared/approved before the home can be insured.
Were to find a Certified W.E.T.T Specialist: Certified W.E.T.T Professional
More About Wood Burning Fireplaces - Wood Heat Organization
Heating with electricity has been around for many years such as baseboard heaters, electric forced air furnace
or boiler, space heaters and heat pumps. The more common ones being forced air furnace.
Today I still come across homes that use electric baseboard heaters or electric forced air furnaces. I cannot
indicate to you if they are more or less expensive to operate than a gas fired units. It all depends on the unit,
cost of electrcity and energy efficiency of the house.
The NRC Guide below should be able to provide more information on the different types of electric heating as
well as comparing annual heating costs.
Condensing gas furnaces (forced air furnaces) are the most energy-efficient furnaces on the market today.
They are an ideal choice as a new or replacement furnace for virtually any home serviced by
natural gas or propane. Here is why:
• Condensing gas furnaces have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of between 90 and 97 percent,
compared with AFUEs of about 60 percent for old furnaces and of 78 to 84 percent for standard efficiency
units. (AFUE is the yardstick for rating furnace efficiency.)
• Because of their increased efficiency, condensing gas furnaces use, on average, 33 to 38 percent less
energy than old models and10 percent less energy than a standard efficiency model. This
helps conserve Canada’s natural resources and reduces harmful environmental emissions that contribute to
climate change, urban smog and other air pollution problems.
• Any extra cost associated with purchasing a condensing gas furnace will be quickly recovered through energy
savings. For example, a homeowner with an old gas furnace could save about $300 a year by switching to a
condensing gas furnace with an AFUE of 96 percent.
• Condensing gas furnaces are available in a range of sizes. They can be installed in the same location as the
furnace that is being replaced, by the same technicians and by using the same ductwork.
Above was Reprinted from the Natural Resources Canada’s Guide to Heating with Gas
Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The
people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel
the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. When radiant heating is located in the floor, it is
Typically I encounter radiant floor heating either in a Bathroom and or Kitchen and its usually but not always in
the basement. There are two basic types of radiant heat - electrical and water.
This Energy Department in the USA seems to provide some good general information about radiant heating. I
would advise further research closer to your own specific region for approved contractors and costs
Energy Department - Radiant Heating
If you are exploring the heating and cooling options for a new house or looking for ways to reduce your energy
bills, you may be considering a heat pump. A heat pump can provide year-round climate control for your home
by supplying heat to it in the winter and cooling it in the summer. Some types can also heat water.
A heat pump is an electrical device that extracts heat from one place and transfers it to another. The heat
pump is not a new technology; it has been used in Canada and around the world for decades. Refrigerators
and air conditioners are both common examples of this technology.
winter days. In fact, air at –18°C contains about 85 percent of the heat it contained at 21°C. An air-source heat
pump absorbs heat from the outdoor air in winter and rejects heat into outdoor air in summer. It is the most
common type of heat pump found in Canadian homes at this time. However, ground-source (also called earth-
energy, geothermal, geoexchange) heat pumps, which draw heat from the ground or ground water, are
becoming more widely used, particularly in British Columbia, the Prairies and Central Canada
Becoming fully informed about all aspects of home heating and cooling before making your final decision is the
key to making the right choice. This booklet describes the most common types of heat pumps, and discusses
the factors involved in choosing, installing, operating, and maintaining a heat pump.
Above was Reprinted from the Natural Resources Canada’s Guide Heating and Cooling with a Heat Pump
The choice of which filter to buy for your furnace depends on how much you want to spend, what you're trying
For most homeowners, a more expensive MERV 7 or 8 pleated filter provides a good balance between cost and
filtration efficiency. These filters trap 80 to 95 percent of the particles 5 microns and larger—more than enough
filtration for most households.
Furnace efficiency is one thing. But if you're a clean freak or have family members with allergies or low-
immunity issues, spend more on a high-efficiency (MERV 11 and higher) filter. Then just make sure you stay on
top of filter changes to protect your furnace.
High-efficiency filters capture 99 percent of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns (bacteria and viruses,
fumes and pollen). But you'll have to run your furnace fan full time to get the maximum benefit from a high-
efficiency filter, and that will cost more. Figure the extra cost into your decision.
Never switch from a fiberglass filter to a high-efficiency filter without first talking to your HVAC technician. The
technician can boost fan speed to compensate for the reduced airflow. Even then, you still have to be diligent
about replacing the filter regularly. A clogged filter can burn out the blower motor, damage the heat exchanger
and cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted energy.
Traditionally, furnace filters were designed to protect the furnace and fans. With increased air quality
awareness, some filters are now being installed to reduce exposure to particles which can affect your health.
There is a wide variety of furnace filters available. However, you may find it confusing to select one which is
The purpose of this CMHC document is to provide you with guidance when selecting your furnace filter.
uncomfortable indoor environment. An air-conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering the air temperature
as mold and mildew.
There are many factors involved when deciding on an air conditioner or furnace for your home. To size an air conditioner you
must first decide which type would best be suited for your specific requirements. Do you need to cool a single room or multiple
rooms such as an entire house. Does your house have the distribution system in place such as a duct or plenum system, to
distribute the cool air throughout the house, you may be limited to a window or ductless system such as the case with a boiler
type heating system in the house. In some cases you may be able to install a split A/C system in the attic or even retrofit a
duct/plenum system utilizing closet space.
There are primarily three different types of Air Conditioning systems - Window fixed, mini split ductless room or portable and full
house split air conditions systems.
How large of an A/C unit do I need?
Whole house units or split A/C systems are rated from 12,000-42,000 or approx 1- 4 ton's. Keep in mind the calculations are an
approx its always a good idea to hire a licensed HVAC specialist for the final sizing (insulation levels, room sizes, ceiling
heights,size and orientation of the windows and doors plus other considerations all have an effect on the proper sizing) . Contrary
to what you may think bigger is not always better and smaller is not always right as well, why?...Oversizing or Undersizing can cost
you performance, efficiency and comfort issues...read more at Air Makers website, (make sure you read the whole page).
Window A/C's and portable units are typically rated or advertised in BTU's (5000-12,000 BTU's). Your Best Digs is a website
which compares 20 portable A/C units, and if you read the article there is a section on how to determine the size (BTU's) of A/C
unit you need for a specific size room...read the whole article it's very interesting.
Natural Resources Canada has a detailed guide...Air Conditioning Your Home which provides information about how A/C's
operate, energy efficiency ratings regulations as well as detailed info on window and whole house systems.
You may be eligible for REBATES from IESO - Independent Electricity System operator formally known as Ontario Power Authority
(OPA). Individual manufacturers may even offer an incentive program, make sure you ask your approved retailer. Find out which
manufacturer your approved retailer is recommending (Typical brands...Kenmore,Goodman,Lennox,Sears,Keeprite) and then
check that mfg website to see if they offer any further incentives/rebates directly to YOU the consumer.
Often clients ask me about maintenance programs or service contracts. My personal belief is that if you don't mind paying a small
monthly fee you should inquire about a service contract and or a maintenance contract. A contract usually covers parts and
labour, read the contract to see which parts are covered. Enercare and Reliance Home Comfort are large HVAC resellers with
several types of maintenance contracts. There are many other resellers in Ontario who can help but to many to list here, check
below on Where to Purchase.
Another good point to consider is that when you sell your house the service contract may be transferable to a new buyer/owner.
Some manufacturers indicate that the typical life expectancy of a A/C Condenser is approx 10-15 years (see page 11 Study of
Life Expectancies guide) where some may indicate 15-20 years in cooler climates such as Canada (Ontario) where A/C are not
utilized as much. I also find that some people don't use the A/C often or the summer days in Ontario don't justify the use of an
A/C. It's not uncommon for me to inspect a house where the A/C Condenser for a full house system is over 25 years old and is
still in working condition, although for how long...who knows!. Today's appliances - A/C's and Furnaces have so much more
electronics and parts that a part replacement or improvement may be required within 5-10 years again depending on how often
they are being utilized...this is where a Service/Maintenance contract is a good idea.
Where to Purchase:
There are many places to shop for A/C units from small speciality HVAC companies to large national resellers to home
department stores. Please take the time to throughly research the information to help you decide what to buy, how large to buy
and most of all who to buy it from. HRAI - Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada can help you find a
licensed HVAC contractor.
Should you clean your furnace air ducts? That is a question that is often asked. Some suggest cleaning air
ducts should be done on a regular basis while others suggest only cleaning air ducts only if needed. Should
you use chemicals or biocides in the process of cleaning or even a sealant? Who do I use that is reputable
and Certified and how can I tell if the job was done right?
Here is a detailed .pdf on "Should you have the air ducts cleaned in your home?" In this file you will find
answers to those questions above and much more information. Here is a link to the National Air Duct
Cleaning Association where you will find more information as well as an area where you can actually search
for a Certified Duct Cleaner in Canada or the US. I also found an article from the Toronto Star "Is Duct
Cleaning Worth It" article by Jessica Mcdiarmid which you may find interesting to read.
Full house split a/c system
Window a/c system
Ductless room a/c system
Disclaimer: This information is provided for general information purposes only. Any reliance or action taken based on the
information, materials and techniques described are the responsibility of the user. Readers are advised to consult appropriate
professional resources to determine what is safe and suitable in their particular case. DASH Inspection Services assumes no
responsibility for any consequence arising from use of the information, materials and techniques described. Any reference to a
specific company is for general information only. I highly recommend you get a min of three quotes and do your homework.