Hy­dro rates spur search for al­ter­na­tive energy sources

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

If you live in On­tario, chances are you’ve joined the party of Com­plain­ing-About-Soar­ing-Hy­dro-Rates.

Many of us have come to dread go­ing to the mail­box; we’re scared that the Hy­dro bill will be in and we won­der what sort of ghastly charge we are fac­ing this month.

The good news for home­own­ers is that you can give your­self a re­prieve by ex­plor­ing a num­ber of al­ter­na­tive fuel sources.

Guy Marc­hand, of the Val­ley­field-based P38, says that many of his clients are us­ing nat­u­ral gas or propane to heat their homes.

Mr. Marc­hand, who has 40 years in the in­dus­try, says that the big trend these days is in-floor heat­ing.

“That’s ra­di­ant heat that’s built in the floor rather than the ceil­ing,” he says. “That’s when you run a hot wa­ter sys­tem or a cord through a floor.”

He adds, “It’s much more con­ve­nient, it’s much more com­fort­able and it’s much more eco­nom­i­cal. It costs a lit­tle more at the in­stal­la­tion but it’s bet­ter be­cause the heat spreads to ev­ery room in the house.”

Be­fore in-floor heat­ing, Mr. Marc­hand says many home­own­ers took ad­van­tage of forced air sys­tems. He says that’s not as pow­er­ful be­cause the heat dis­si­pates the far­ther you move from the source.

He says most of the homes that use forced air, use oil or wood as their fuel. The rest use elec­tric­ity but many of those homes are switch­ing to propane.

“Peo­ple are switch­ing to propane be­cause it’s priced right and it’s a pow­er­ful energy,” he says. “You can use propane to cook, heat wa­ter, dry clothes, run the bar­be­cue and heat your pool. Elec­tric­ity is only used for your lights, your fridge and to run the well pump.”

Ros­alie Maither, who runs Maiview Farm/Cen­tral Boiler Fur­naces with her hus­band, Ernie, in Athel­stan, Québec, says that out­door fur­naces are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar.

“It gives you steady heat that is con­trolled by a ther­mo­stat,” says Mrs. Maither. “But it’s also a safety is­sue. You don’t worry as much about a fire in your base­ment.”

She says that new fur­naces are grow­ing more and more ef­fi­cient and that the cost of wood is much lower than the cost of elec­tric­ity.

The new fur­naces are also a lot more high-tech.

“You can check your fur­nace with your Smart phone,” she says.

Mrs. Maither says she has an out­door wood fur­nace at her prop­erty and it is usu­ally op­er­at­ing from Oc­to­ber un­til around the end of May. “But some peo­ple run it all year long so they can heat their wa­ter for showers or for the swimming pool.”

Although she ad­mits that buy­ing and in­stalling an out­door fur­nace can be costly at first, she says it’s a good long-term in­vest­ment.

“Cen­tral Boiler claims that the fur­nace will pay for it­self within three to five years,” she says.

She adds hav­ing an out­door fur­nace may also save money on in­sur­ance rates.

NEW FIX­TURES: Out­door fur­nace chim­neys have be­come com­mon fix­tures in ru­ral ar­eas.

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