Your guide to modern heating systems

July 27, 2015

Heating systems today are more safe and more efficient than ever before. With these heating basics, you can figure out how to heat your home more efficiently, and maybe save on your utility bills.

Your guide to modern heating systems

Modern heating: a primer

  • Modern heating systems are efficient and effective, but they still require regular attention. A system that isn't maintained won't work as well or last as long as one that is cared for properly.
  • You can handle many routine tasks yourself, but it's best to have any heating system checked and serviced every year by a heating contractor.
  • Most homes have central heating, typically consisting of a furnace that produces heat and a system that distributes that heat throughout the house.
  • In warmer climates, homes may have individual space heaters in each room.

Types of heating fuels

  • A heating system can be fuelled by natural gas fed through pipes, propane stored in a tank in the yard or oil from an indoor tank. Other options include electricity, wood, coal and solar energy.
  • In most parts of the country, natural gas is the least expensive fuel.
  • Consider switching to gas when you need a new furnace or boiler. In areas not served by natural gas lines, you may be able to use bottled gas, which is delivered by truck to an outdoor tank.
  • Coal and wood furnaces, by today's standards, are dirty and labour intensive. Replacing them will make your life a lot cleaner and easier.
  • Solar energy can either supplement another heating system or, in a sunny, mild climate, drive the whole system.
  • To find out if your home is a candidate for solar heating, contact your provincial energy department.

Shutting off the fuel supply

  • Any fuel is a potential danger in a fire or a natural disaster, such as a tornado or flood.
  • Make sure that every adult knows how to turn off your home's fuel supply in an emergency.
  • To shut it off natural gas, use a wrench to turn the valve on the meter intake pipe to a horizontal position. Always keep a wrench near the shutoff valve.
  • For bottled gas, the control valve is on top of the tank. Turn the knob or lever clockwise to stop the flow.
  • Fuel oil is stored in an outdoor or basement tank. Look for the shutoff valve near the tank bottom where the fuel line exits, or ask your supplier.

Heating is one of any homeowners biggest expenses, but it's also completely necessary in colder climates. Knowing about different systems can help you choose a heating system that works for your lifestyle, and help you save money on your monthly bills.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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