Forced Air Furnace
Gas furnaces are the most popular furnaces for Residential and Commercial properties. There are oil fired
furnaces but they are not as popular. Today's gas furnaces are highly efficient with 2 stage heat exchanger's,
multi stage gas valves and ECM blower motors, they can have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) of
between 90 and 97 percent. Where the AFUE is a comparison of the input to the output fuel. The higher the
number the more efficient the unit is. When used in conjunction with a set back thermostat today's furnaces can
be set to turn on and off at certain times of the day or even run all day at low settings (less energy loss) to keep
the air in the house circulating and evenly distributed.
Forced Air Furnaces - will have a furnace unit usually sitting in the basement with large square vents or Plenum
running along the ceiling areas which delivers the air to the individual rooms - you will notice rectangular metal
boxes on the floor below the windows in the rooms, these are called HEAT REGISTER this is where the heat or
A/C is blowing out off.
The high efficient furnaces typically have plastic type piping to exhaust the left over gas and sometimes an air
intake pipe to bring in fresh air. Some installations may not require the air intake pipe, if there is enough free or
fresh air around the furnace then you can use the house air. If your furnace is located inside a room or inside
the laundry room it may be considered to be an enclosed furnace room and may require the fresh air intake
pipe and or fresh air to be available at all times. This can be done by using a louvered door to the furnace
room or grills to be installed on the furnace room door or wall - I highly recommend you call a licensed HVAC
Specialist to help determine your specific requirements.
If you don't provide fresh air then combustion gases may spill back into the house and possibly be a
health/safety issue - carbon monoxide poisoning.
The ENERGY STAR® symbol is a consumer icon in the Canadian marketplace. It instantly identifies
RESIDENTIAL and COMMERCIAL products that have qualified as high efficiency. You can save money when
choosing an energy efficient product. NRC Guide to Choosing the right Gas Furnace.
ENERGY STAR Canada is a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to make
high efficiency products readily available and visible to Canadians. There are over 70 products which have the
energy label. Check out our "Energy Efficient Products Guide" in the "General House Info" Section of this
website for more info.
The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has a certification program that is relied heavily
upon by regulators for accurate and unbiased evaluation of heating, water heating, ventilation, air conditioning,
and commercial refrigeration equipment. They also have a Directory of Certified Product Performance list for
heating and air conditioning products.
Sizing a Furnace
When considering adding or replacing air conditioning or heating to your home, ensure you hire an installation
contractor who will treat your house as a complete system addressing ventilation and "size" the system
properly. A qualified contractor will not recommend equipment size based solely on the size of your home or
assume that your existing equipment was sized properly in the first place.
Be sure to also tell your contractor if you plan to renovate in the near future. Changing windows, upgrading
insulation levels, finishing the basement, air-sealing or a new addition will impact the sizing calculation for any
Not only will a unit that is too big turn on and off more often, which is annoying but over-sizing equipment can
result in increased fuel consumption and higher operating costs which is inefficient and can contribute to
premature part failure, higher noise levels and reduced comfort (hot or cold spots within the home).
There are several online heat loss calculators but there is much more to performing a proper heat loss and
heat gain calculation especially for brand new installations and or homes that have been renovated, have a
look at HRAI's Heat Loss Calculation Worksheet and see the depth involved.
I would recommend you hire a contractor that has the appropriate skills to perform a "heat loss and heat gain
calculation" based on professional guidelines, to calculate the proper size of heating and cooling equipment
that your home requires. Be sure to request a "heat loss and heat gain calculation" as part of your purchase
process. To complete the heat load calculation, the contractor will need to take measurements during the initial
visit to your home and ask some questions, such as:
Local climate conditions
Size and number of windows that let in heat from the sun
Sizes of rooms
Existing insulation levels of the home
Number and lifestyle of your home's occupants...ETC.
Furnace - Cost
It depends. If your furnace is older and has a metal type vent which is connected to a chimney it may require a
net new installation, meaning the new furnace being high efficient will require the plastic type piping (gas
exhaust and fresh air intake) to be installed directly outside the exterior wall of your house, which will also
depend on where the pipes can actually be run (if any windows, gas meter or air intakes are in the way).
Generally this type of installation can run approx $4,000-$6,000.
Today you can rent your furnace, great if you don't have any money and it's the middle of winter, but be sure
this is what you want since most contracts will probably be long term and at the end may cost more if not much
more than the actual purchase price - read your contract make sure your okay with it!. Make sure you read
over our section on Life Expectancy/Pricing, Contractors and Buyer Beware for more info.
Furnace - Rebates
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.
Which Furnace Mfg?
People always ask me this questions and I can't really compare the different manufacturers such as; Lennox,
Goodman, Carrier, York and so many others. In my experience all of the newer furnaces have so much more
components and electronics it's not a matter of who is better but if they break down who do I call and how much
will it cost me...because it's not if they break down it's when will they and most will require parts replacements
probably within 3-7 years. How long will they last will also depend on the maintenance you provide and how
often they are being used. Life Expectancy is approx 15-20 years.
Furnace - Service/Maintenance
You may elect to have your furnace put on service/maintenance contract. Were the company will come over
1-2/year and service your furnace also if a component breaks they typically come and repair/replace without
any additional charges depending on which service level you purchase. The most popular companies would be
Reliance and Enercare but there are many other smaller firms who can provide service. YOU need to do your
homework on this and READ the fine print - some don't cover furnace filters!.
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 & AIR CONDITIONING
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
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
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
The purpose of this CMHC document is to provide you with guidance when selecting your furnace filter.
An air-conditioning system can provide comfort for occupants by lowering the air temperature and humidity. High humidity levels
in a house can produce unwanted moisture damage, there are various other methods of controlling humidity, see Ventilation unit
wont work well in hot weather and an oversized unit may cycle on and off without running long enough to reduce the humidity.
Air Conditioning systems are sized in tons. A “ton” is a measure of an air conditioner's ability to cool. One ton is the ability of your
air conditioner to cool 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Unit) in an hour. Likewise, a “2-ton” central air conditioner is able to cool
24,000 BTUs per hour.
Air Conditioners are also rated for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) and Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).
SEER provides an annual measure of the efficiency of the air conditioner. Higher numbers use less energy. An AFUE is given in a
percentage and a higher numbers use less energy. For more information check out our Energy Efficient Products section which
can help you find the best unit.
For much more information on air conditioning check out the Natural Resources Canada website.
Types of Air Conditioners
There are primarily three different types of Home Air Conditioning systems - Window fixed, mini split ductless room or portable
and full house split air conditions systems.
1.Window or Portable A/C - fits inside a window - Good for single room conditioning.
2. Mini Split Ductless - two parts - Condenser typically sits outside and the other part is connected to a wall and provides cooling,
good if you have an older house which uses a boiler system and does not have a plenum. Typically this system will cool a single
area, depending on how large a unit you buy.
3. Whole House Unit - Most common for houses - two parts - Condenser sits outside and the evaporator which sits inside the
Plenum above the furnace - this system connects to the plenum to cool the whole house.
What size of an A/C unit do I need?
To size an air conditioner you must first decide which type (window/portable, mini split, whole house) 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 an older 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.
Whole house units or split A/C systems are rated from 12,000-42,000 or approx 1- 4 ton's. Sizing an whole house unit is more
complicated than a window type unit. 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. You should use a licensed HVAC Specialist to assist you.
NOTE: Sometimes some HVAC Sales people will just sell you the exact same size you already own or just rough estimate it. This
may not be a good idea. What if you updated your windows and or insulation levels in the house, this house has just become
more tightly sealed - your older unit may not be a proper size any longer.
Make sure you use a Licensed HVAC Specialist to make the actual calculations.
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. You can also use the NRCAN Air Conditioning
Your Home Guide for much more detailed info and calculation guide...see page 41 Annex A.
A/C - Rebates
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.
A/C - Service/Maintenance Contracts
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.
A/C - Life Expectancies
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 units 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. You may just need a recharging of the
A/C - Buying or Renting
There are many places to shop for A/C units from small speciality HVAC companies to large national resellers to home
department stores. If you look around you could find a good deal, just make sure the contractor is licensed. And ask if there are
any rebates and if the price quoted includes the rebate.
Some resellers will offer to rent A/C units. Renting is a good idea if you don't have the money to purchase an A/C unit, which
could run anywhere from $2500-$5000 depending on size and place you buy it from. Make sure you read the contract, you could
end up paying a lot more over the contract period and keep in mind if you decide to sell your home, do you have to pay out the
contract or can it be transferred, assuming the new home buy wants to continue paying. Some rentals also cover maintenance
and replacement parts for no additional charge - make sure you look for this.
A/C - Where to Buy or Rent
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.
Make sure you read over our section on Life Expectancy/Pricing, Contractors and Buyer Beware for more info.
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
Furnace - Plastic (white) pipes
and metal plenum
Furnace - Metal (silver) pipes
Furnace Room -enclosed,
notice the louvered doors.
A Thermostat is a device which senses the temperature in a given area and can perform an action, based on the temperature
you set it to, and can then control the furnace, air conditioner, fireplace or baseboard heaters, by turning them on or off.
The earlier thermostat models, see picture at right side, such as the round Honeywell type models, would turn "on" or "off" as the
desired temperature is reached, very basic mechanical device. No control as to how long the temperature should be left at the
desired set point. So if you wanted the temperature to be reduced to a lower value say when everybody leaves the house for
work and or school then the basic model would not give you that option, possible energy loss (heat or A/C).
The programmable thermostat was then developed, see picture at right side. This thermostat was designed to allow you to set the
temperature to different values based on different times of the day. So for example when your family left in the morning for work
or school, your furnace or A/C could be set to a lower value, and the temperature would adjust when your not home. This could
save you money in heating or cooling a house nobody is occupying. And maybe 30 min before people start coming home the
thermostat could be set to turn on to a higher temperature so the house is nice and comfortable.
Today you can find smart Digital/WiFi programmable thermostats which are Energy Efficient (see item 6 under 14 ways to save
energy) and more advanced in design and connectivity then previous models, where the thermostat can also be controlled and
monitored by your smart phone. Consumer Reports Buying Guide.
Thermostat - Compatibility/Installation:
So you've decided to update to a programmable or even a smart programmable thermostat. First you need to make sure the
thermostat you are looking to purchase is compatible with the one you have at home today. The wiring is what is important. The
wiring which connects your thermostat to the furnace is what will need to be checked. All of the major manufacturers appear to
have installation notes and videos and or compatibility sections on their website. I recommend you review them. If you have no
clue what to do or if you feel you don't have time to mess around then I highly recommend you hire a licensed or qualified
Thermostat - Brands/Models?
Nest - Which appears to be one of the most popular manufacturers - Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E
models are the two current models available. There is also a Nest Temperature Sensing Model (not compatible with Nest 1st and
2nd gen models) which can be combined with either thermostat to monitor the temp in individual rooms and adjust accordingly.
Nest also has several other products - Smoke/Carbon Detectors, Cameras, Door Locks, Video Doorbell and other manufacturers
are bringing out products which are Nest compatible. Nest is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT.
Nest - Product Info
Nest - Installation Info
Nest - Can't install yourself - Find an Installer
Nest - Pricing - Home Depot.
Eccobee - Also a very popular manufacturer which appears to be a Canadian Company - Eccobee 3 lite and Eccobee 4 are the
two current models available. Like Nest they also have room sensors. The Eccobee 4 also has Amazon Alexa Voice Service built
in so you can control the unit by voice (hands free) and also find recipes and music playlists. Eccobee is compatible with Amazon
Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Wink.
Eccobee - Product Info
Eccobee - Installation Info
Eccobee - Can't install yourself - Find an Installer
Eccobee - Pricing - Home Depot
Emerson Sensi - Traditional thermostat design but missing advanced features like room sensors and ability to learn but has the
basic smart functionality with a lower cost. The Touch WiFi Thermostat and the WiFi Thermostat are the two current models.
Emerson is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Echo and Wink.
Sensi - Product Info
Sensi - Installation Info
Sensi - Can't install yourself - no info on Sensi website, but installers for Nest or Eccobee should be able to install Sensi - ask
Sensi - Pricing - Home Depot
There are other manufacturer's of smart programmable thermostats available (Honeywell, Dimplex, Lennox, Schneider Electric
etc.), were the features and add ons may be different. Those features and add-ons do come with a cost, do you really need the
top of the line with the latest and greatest features...it's up to you to do the homework and figure out what is best for you. But a
programmable thermostat whether it's one of those fancy smart learning units or a basic programmable unit can save you
Thermostat - REBATES
Enbridge appears to be the only company offering a rebate of $100 for certain models. Click here for full details. Enbridge also
has a couple of installation videos for Nest and Eccobee.
Early Honeywell thermostat