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Winter gas fireplace maintenance tips

A functional fireplace is essential for many homeowners, especially those who have to deal with harsh Canadian winters. There are a number of different kinds of fireplaces available to consumers, including wood-burning, electric, and gas models. Gas fireplaces can perform just as well as wood and electric alternatives, but they can also be more difficult to maintain. At Home Improvement leads, we know that understanding the ins and outs of your gas fireplace is crucial in order to achieve maximum efficiency and function. Here are some of our top tips to help you keep your gas fireplace performing its best throughout the year.

DIY maintenance checklist

Gas appliances of all kinds have highly technical specifications and unique parts. While many repairs require the expertise of a trained gas professional, there are several things you can do to keep your gas fireplace in good condition. Keeping your fireplace clean and free of dust, cobwebs, and debris is one of the most important things to remember. Regularly cleaning glass doors and coverings, both inside and out, will keep your fireplace looking great and working efficiently (the professionals at Gas Fireplaces recommend doing this monthly). Periodically removing dust and cobwebs in and around the fireplace is also good practice for gas fireplace owners. During your regular fireplace check, it’s also a good idea to examine the fittings and vents, both interior and exterior, for damage and debris. If your fireplace has a door, check that the latch and mechanisms are all in good working order in order to minimize the risk of a gas leak.

When to call in a professional

Although gas fireplace owners can—and should—carry out basic cleaning tasks and safety checks on a regular basis, there are some situations that require a trained and qualified gas professional. All gas fireplaces should be inspected and cleaned thoroughly at least once a year by an engineer. Most likely, your fireplace installer will be able to perform this annual maintenance check-up for you, but you can always contact other local gas engineers for quotes and recommendations if you are unsure. You can find out more about gas safety rules and regulations at the Ontario Technical Standards and Safety Authority website. If, between annual visits, you notice any problems with your fireplace, such as loose or broken connections, cracked glass, or damage to the fireplace itself, do not hesitate to contact a professional to inspect your fireplace. It’s important to remember that gas appliances are complex and potentially dangerous, so you shouldn’t attempt to fix any major issues yourself. (That said, many gas fireplace issues concern either the pilot light, thermocouple, or thermopile; if you have previous experience in gas appliance maintenance, the DIY experts at doityourself.com have several tips for troubleshooting these parts of a gas fireplace.

General gas safety tips

Because gas is an unpredictable and potentially hazardous substance, there are several things homeowners with gas appliances need to know to keep themselves safe. First and foremost, make sure that your home is fitted with carbon monoxide alarms. These alarms should be installed near all gas appliances, including your fireplace, gas boiler, and furnace. While the recommendations for exact placement vary, generally these monitors should be fitted directly above or next to the appliance, no more than five meters away. Test your carbon monoxide alarms regularly and replace them immediately when necessary. Most importantly, be aware of the air quality in your home. If you begin to feel sick or dizzy, smell rotten eggs, or suspect one of your gas appliances has a leak, leave the house immediately and seek help from emergency services. In the unlikely event of a gas leak, you can never be too careful: while a well-maintained gas appliance should work perfectly well without leaks, things can change in an instant.

Article By : Kaitlin Krull

Smart Energy Saving Tips

For the modern customer, HVAC energy efficiency is a top concern and popular point of conversation. In honor of Earth Month, I've outlined the top five energy-saving tips that you can reference when your customers ask about improving their home energy efficiency.

  • Replace filters often - Hands down the best thing you can do to improve your energy efficiency is to replace your air filters often. The more debris that's in the filter, the less air can circulate through the HVAC system, making it work harder. The harder your HVAC unit works, the more energy it uses.
  • Set a schedule - Constantly adjusting your thermostat uses a lot of energy.  Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature that reflects your schedule so that your unit isn't cooling an empty house or working overtime when you're away.
  • Air sealing - A quick, inexpensive air-sealing fix can mean big savings on utilities. Blocking outside air from coming in not only helps keep allergies and other irritants out of your home, but it also prevents your HVAC unit from having to constantly heat or cool outside air.
  • Out with the old, in with the new - New light bulbs don't use as much energy and last a lot longer, but they also don't tend to run as hot - ultimately saving you from having to turn down your thermostat a few degrees or having to turn on a fan.
  • Turn down the temp - According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lowering the temperature on your water heater by just 10 degrees can yield a $12 to $30 reduction in energy costs annually. Also, taking a cooler shower or bath means lower energy use, from your HVAC unit to cool your home afterward.

For more quick and easy energy-saving tips, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Saver website where you'll find energy-saving DIY projects, buying tips, and more.

Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) Benefits

Benefits

Reduced Energy Consumption

  • Captures some of the heat from wastewater primarily from showers.
  • Reduces demand on energy infrastructure.
  • Provides more hot water for same amount of energy purchased.

Reduced Energy Costs

  • Reduces utility bills.

Reduced Environmental Impact

  • Reduces pollutant emissions associated with fuel-fired water heaters or electricity generation for electric water heaters.
  • Reduces depletion of non-renewable fuel resources.
  • Extends the life of the water heating elements or burner.

Description

  • A Drain Water Heat Recovery System recovers heat from water that would otherwise be lost down the drain. It works best with simultaneous flows like showers, where there is a demand for hot water at the same time as hot water is going down the drain. The recovered heat can be used to preheat cold water going to the hot water tank or for other purposes permitted by codes and regulations.
  • A DWHR unit consists of copper pipe tightly wound around a vertical section of copper drainpipe. As water flows down the drainpipe, it clings to the inside surface of the drainpipe. The heat from the drain water is transferred through the copper drainpipe to fresh cold water flowing in the outer copper coil.
  • The warmed water is then sent either to the hot water tank or other permitted end-use. In either case, the amount of energy needed to provide hot water is reduced.
  • DWHR systems provide greater potential for energy savings as the number of simultaneous flows increases.
  • DWHR units vary in terms of pipe size, orientation of the drain line, heat exchanger design, cost and energy savings achieved. Water heating accounts for 20 – 25% of the total energy consumption in a typical home, DWHR units can reduce hot water requirements for showering by 40 to 60%.

Design/Installation/Operation/Maintenance Considerations

  • DWHR units are available in lengths from 900 to 3050 mm (36 to 120 inches) and two diameters: 75 or 100 mm (3 or 4 inch).
  • A DHWR unit can easily be retrofitted into existing vertical drains or included in new construction projects
  • According to Natural Resources Canada-sponsored research, one of the most effective models is the 75 mm (3 inch) diameter, 1500 mm (60 inch) long unit.
  • There are generally two ways to plumb the units: directly to the hot water tank, or — where permitted by building codes and regulations — to the shower feed (to preheat the cold water).
  • If showers all drain to one drain pipe, the savings will be more substantial. If showers do not drain to one drain pipe, each downpipe that carries wastewater from a shower could have a DWHR unit installed. Alternately, one unit can be installed on the drain pipe that serves the shower that is used the most.
  • Most cost-effective for households with three or more occupants who use the shower more often than the bathtub.
  • Does not require special equipment or tools for installation.
  • Has no moving parts and no special maintenance requirements.

 

DWHR Schematic from Technical Research Highlight

Drain Pipe Heat Recovery System

 

What Does it Save?

  • Actual cost savings are dependent on energy costs, location, system configuration, hot water heater type and water usage.
  • Here is an example of the possible savings a family of four could see with a DWHR unit. The example family lives in a 2-storey house built in 1973. They take four 7 minute showers a day at 41°C. The temperature of the hot water supply is set at 55°C (130°F). The existing hot water tank is in the basement. A 75 mm diameter, 1500 mm long DWHR unit is installed.
  • If the hot water is supplied by a 78% efficient natural gas hot water tank, this DHWR unit could recover enough heat to provide up to 15% of the overall hot water needs (about 130 m3 of gas).
  • If the hot water is supplied by a conventional electric hot water tank, this DWHR unit could recover enough heat to provide up to 20% of the overall hot water needs for the household (about 1100 kWh).

cmhc-schl.gc . ca

2017 Heating & Cooling Incentives Update

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) will continue to offer the existing Heating and Cooling incentives until June 30, 2017. New eligible equipment and incentives are expected to be introduced by July 1, 2017

The Rebate Program will include:

  • $250 incentive when you have an existing furnace replaced with the purchase and installation of an eligible high-efficiency furnace equipped with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM). – will be eligible until Dec. 31, 2017
  • $250 incentive when you install or replace your existing central air conditioner (CAC) system or install a new CAC system that is purchased and installed of an ENERGY STAR qualified CAC system with a minimum 14.5 SEER and 12 EER (confirmed by AHRI reference number).  – only eligible until June 30, 2017
  • $400 incentive when you install or replace your existing central air conditioner (CAC) replaced with the purchase and installation of an ENERGY STAR qualified central air conditioning system with a minimum 15 SEER and 12.5 EER (confirmed by AHRI reference number). – only eligible until June 30, 2017

The IESO will be removing the CAC incentives for the SEER 14.5 & 15 (EERs 12 &12.5) from the program as of June 30, 2017 and will be looking at introducing incentives for the following products starting July 1, 2017

  • Central Air Conditioners – SEER 18+
  • Air Source Heat Pumps –Ducted and ductless, including ductless multi port
  • Drop in ECMs for furnaces
  • ECM Circulator pumps
  • Air Source Cold Climate Heat Pumps – Ducted and ductless, including ductless multiport
  • Adaptive Thermostats
  • Once the IESO confirms these new products will be eligible, HRAI will communicate the final details of the program changes for July 2017.

Please note the IESO can change the terms of the initiative during the program year, including the eligible products and incentive amount.

How to survive a renovation with kids

Renovating your home is stressful enough on its own, but include children and the pressure can be overwhelming. Here are three tips to help your family survive an upcoming renovation.

1. Establish routines. Keeping life as normal as possible for your children will help maintain calm within your home. “As kitchens and bathrooms are the rooms most often renovated — and the rooms that must be accessed by everyone — trying to create temporary family routines around your contractors' working hours will help,” recommends Denise Hayward, show manager for the GTA Home & Reno Show.

Making meals in large batches that can be quickly reheated or prepped helps keep your days on schedule. Setting a bathing time that allows all to get in and out of an in-progress bathroom efficiently and without disturbing any unfinished work is a good habit to get into.

2. Safety hazards. Ensure tools are always stored out of little hands' reach and safely put away at the end of each day. New “toys” can be appealing to children who may have seen plastic versions of hammers, drills and saws in their own playrooms, but might not realize how dangerous the real ones are without adult supervision. Sealing off nearby HVAC ducting or vents, using plastic hang sheets, and vacuuming with a HEPA-filtered vacuum twice a day are integral to protecting your family from dust and allergens.

3. Tackle one room at a time. Trying to upgrade more than one space at a time can be a recipe for chaos — or worse, injuries. Choose one room or area to fully complete before moving onto the next. This helps keep potential hazards and air allergens contained to one space at a time, which in turn makes it easier to keep kids away from the area.

If you're planning a home renovation, help and expert advice are available at the Destination Renovation booth of the 2017 GTA Home & Reno Show, running February 17 to 20 at the International Centre in Mississauga. Find more information at www.gtahomeandrenoshow.com.

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