Options for a warm, cozy home

Homeowners have numerous decisions to make when building a home, and how they will heat their house is just one of them. But there are a number of options that homeowners can choose from. Here is a review of some of the home-heating options available to Nova Scotians.

Home HeatingOil Heat

According to Debbie Jamieson, executive director of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Oil Heat Association, 58 per cent of homes in Nova Scotia are heated with oil, so it’s still a big player in the heating business.

“Oil heat provides the hottest flame of any fossil fuel, including natural gas, propane and electricity.  Therefore our customers always say that they really enjoy the comfort and warmth of their oil heated home.”

She also points out that homeowners typically do not have issues with their supply of hot water from an oil-fired hot water heater. “Oil-fired hot water heaters heat water twice as fast as natural gas and five times faster than electricity. “

There is also the added benefit of choice, having a variety of local companies to choose from when you use oil.

In fact, a recent survey shows that oilheat customers give their local suppliers an average approval rating of 94%, stating personal service is one of the relationship benefits they value most.

Jamieson says consumers often choose oil as a safe option because it’s non-volatile and won’t explode. Oil leaks are no worry either, as modern storage solutions are made from materials such as fibreglass and polyethylene materials that don’t rust or corrode, many including 30-year warranties.

Jamieson realizes that there are many myths about oil as a heating option.

“Many consumers believe that oil is expensive and not efficient. But that usually is because of the equipment they use, and not the oil itself. “

She notes that homeowners who have upgraded to modern, technologically advanced oil heat equipment have a very different experience.

“Today’s oil heat equipment is remarkably frugal.  New oil furnaces are now available with efficiencies reaching 97 per cent – now the most efficient furnaces on the market.  With these modern furnaces, coupled with today’s low-sulphur and
ultra-low-sulphur heating oil, and in the foreseeable future the introduction of biofuel, oil heat is now poised to be the cleanest burning fossil fuel.”

Home Themostat

Solar Hot Water

Another benefit of using oil to heat your home is the option to introduce renewable sources of heat, such as solar evacuated glass tube technology. In fact, these systems can be fitted to supply pre-heated water to any domestic hot water boiler – oil, gas or electrically heated – making them a truly diverse and realistic renewable energy option for any home using hot water baseboards, radiators or in-floor radiant heat.

Typically rooftop installations, the systems are relatively straight-forward for licensed professionals to install on both new and existing homes.

Kelly Lunn, owner of EnCom Alternative Energy, says the evacuated tubes can provide 75 per cent or more of homeowners’ domestic hot water heat.

“The evacuated tubes boost the heat to the required temperature before the boiler does it. That means the boiler doesn’t have to run at full capacity.”

This increases the efficiency of your home heat and reduces your overall energy costs – all thanks to the sun.

Natural Gas

Heating with natural gas is becoming a popular option, especially as Heritage Gas expands its network throughout the province. Rohit Seth, business development specialist with Heritage Gas, says natural gas is safe, consistent, reliable and can increase the resale value of your home. Natural gas is also cost and energy efficient.

“Since 2003, Heritage Gas customers, on average, have saved between 20 and 70 per cent compared to other Nova Scotians using oil, propane or electricity. Advances in technology will continue to spur further economic benefits,” Seth says.

“Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels with no SO2 emissions and the lowest NOx and CO2 emissions (45% less CO2 than coal, 30% less CO2 than fuel oil). Heritage Gas customers’ cumulative CO2 reductions at the end of 2009 were 90,500 tonnes, the equivalent to removing 18,100 vehicles from Nova Scotia highways.”

Natural gas can also be used for operating appliances such as stoves and washers and dryers, as well as for lighting, heating pools and patios.

Heat Pumps

Jack Knox, general manager with Halifax Heating, says many homeowners are choosing to use a forced air heat pump system in their homes.

“It’s half the cost of operation of an oil-fired system and it compares with the cost of using natural gas,” Knox says. “And we design them so the air flow is quiet.”

This is also a great option for those who suffer from allergies and asthma.

“We can remove 99 per cent of allergens inside your home so it becomes an environmental shelter.”

These systems, too, work as dehumidifiers, an asset during Nova Scotia’s often humid summer months.

“We live in the best climate in the world for the use of an air-sourced heat pump,” Knox says, adding that when combined with the Time of Day Savings program from Nova Scotia power, homeowners can ultimately cut their heating operations costs in half, compared to another system

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent has been working as a freelance writer for the past 12 years. Her work has appeared in The Chronicle Herald, The Coast, the Daily News, National Review of Medicine and Lawyers Weekly. She also works as the editor of Ocean Resources/Earth Resources and Atlantic Boating News

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