ell the cooler weather is now upon us so no better way to celebrate getting cozy than adding a warm touch to areas of your home. While heated floors are becoming popular again, they are not always the affordable fix for new or renovated homes. Of course if it’s new construction, install a loop of ‘pex’ lines in your slab for the inevitable hook-up down the road . The cost at this stage is minimal at less than 40 cents a foot and heat sources could range from solar heated hot water to a hydrogen fuel cel technology down the road or even a bio mass fired community shared utility. Fuel sources will change depending on availability and supplied price but if the pipes are in the slab, that will never change. And creating that thermal mass provides a hot plate of heat for a large portion of your home. Just be sure you keep the pex lines out of any direct sunlight as they could get damaged by the ultra violets. And allow for a fresh air supplying HVAC to help circulate air. A renovation on the other hand can be quite expensive and invasive to add heated water piping throughout. Electric under floor wire mats, although nice in a small bath area of less that 50 square feet, can really
add up in install costs and most importantly in operating costs as they tend to require a constant ‘on ‘ position year round to be effective and have a very slow recovery if shut off completely. One of the quickest and most affordable ways of adding some visual warmth and comfort is a free standing gas heater or fireplace as in this photo attached. It is also a great way to effectively warm a space with walls of glass and allows a cleaner look devoid of baseboard heaters. Whether you have access to natural gas or not, propane is still a good option. And you won’t necessarily need one of those huge propane tanks. One hundred gallon tanks are just 24” in diameter and can be tucked under your eve just about anywhere. We have ours filled once or twice a year and it runs our fireplace, barbeque and also commercial 6 burner stove. This is also a great option if you lose power during winter storms. Be sure your unit is a radiant style heater that can operate with or without a fan. Of course pellet stove technology and the advent of local pellet manufacturers making this fuel from local secondary manufacturing processes adds yet another clean and sustainable option.
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The chimneys in these solid fuel burning units can be more costly to install versus the direct vent gas of course but again, availability and costs for operation should be driving the decision making here. And for wood, the same applies. Zero clearance units save on masonry costs but the chimneys are pricier again as they get larger and require more setbacks from combustibles. If you are lucky and have a good sized but out dated brick chimney, then look to the high efficiency inserts available. Be sure to always check with your home insurers first before planning an install. You will want a unit with doors that seal as open fireplaces are no
longer code compliant due to heat and air loss. Phone the pros at South Island Fireplace or Granny’s Wood Stove for a free estimate. And remember, Pacific Energy is a local manufacturer of high quality gas and wood units and employ many in our community. And if your fireplace now needs a visual hand, think paint, plaster , tile or stone veneer in that order of costs. Stay warm!
David Coulson is a local certified Built Green design builder. He has a staff of 25 that have built throughout the Island for over 20 years.
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