Hydro rates spur search for alternative energy sources
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.