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Auxiliary heating units

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

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

Put the charm of your fireplace to work

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

How many BTUs should an auxiliary unit produce?

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

Don’t skimp on safety

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

Choose the wood stove that’s right for you

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

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