Sometimes, we take for granted just how big a role heating technology plays in our lives. At this time of year, just about every building in the country has a furnace working behind the scenes to keep its inhabitants comfortable. There’s a good chance you’re enjoying the benefits of home heating right now!
Here are some furnace facts and cool things about home heating you may not know.
1. 40% of our energy goes towards heating
Given our climate, it’s no surprise that Canadians use a lot of energy on heat. However, when you consider all the other ways we use energy, fuelling our vehicles, lighting our homes and offices, and powering our industries, to name just a few, it’s amazing to think that more than 40% of all energy produced in Canada goes toward heating.
2. Only half of Canadians use natural gas
Most residents here in Ontario (about 72%) use natural gas to heat their homes. Natural gas is safe and efficient, and though we often cringe at our monthly gas bill, it’s still the most affordable heat source in this province.
However, not everyone in Canada has access to natural gas. Only 49% of Canadian households use natural gas heating, while 37% use electricity and 8% use fuel oil. In the neighbouring province of Quebec, just 3% of homes use natural gas, while 80% rely on electricity. Meanwhile, the Maritimes mainly use fuel oil to warm their homes.
3. Central heating is thousands of years old
Home heating has come a long way. From campfires to stoves, steam engines to radiators, heat pumps to smart thermostats, the technology has evolved in leaps and bounds over thousands of years.
Today, most homes use a central heating system, which generates heat in a single location and distributes it throughout the home using ducts or radiators. But central heating isn’t a new concept. In fact, beginning in the year 80 BCE, the upper classes of ancient Rome widely used central heating in their homes, villas, and public baths. The Roman method, called a hypocaust, used a large fire or furnace in an open space below the floor to heat the air, which moved through passages beneath the floors and walls to heat the entire home.
4. Opening the door doesn’t let all the heat out
It’s a refrain familiar to kids across Canada: close the door, you’re letting the heat out!
But is it true?
Leaving doors and windows open will result in some air leakage, but the real problem is not warm air escaping; it’s the frigid, winter air getting in. As heated air rises to the top of a building, cooler air rushes in to replace it. The greater the difference between the inside and outside temperature, the more an open door will change the indoor temperature.
5. Replacing the furnace can cut heating costs by up to 25%
Today’s top-performance furnaces come equipped with a variable speed ECM motor, which is designed to operate at varying output levels depending on the outdoor temperature. On the coldest days of the year, when the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures is greatest, a high-efficiency furnace can perform at a higher BTU output to meet the demand. When the temperature drops, it can scale back on energy, reducing heating costs by up to 25%!
Considering heating accounts for 40% of our energy use, 25% can go a long way in reducing heating costs.