Here are some energy efficiency tips and tricks for heating your home in the winter

Many residents on Bowen rely upon their fireplace and stoves for heat during the winter months. 

Both Richard Chase, a Level 1 WETT (Wood Energy Technology Transfer) Inspector, and Julian Tristan from Tristan Chimney, have extensive experience, working on Bowen. They also have recommendations as to how get the most out of your heating dollars and to reduce your hydro bills. 

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Along with only burning “seasoned” wood, Chase says there are simple things that you can do to maximize efficiency. An open fireplace will typically be less efficient than a wood stove or a wood burning insert. 

“Whether your primary air vents are on the front of your stove, underneath, or from the sides, always keep them clear of firewood and other blockages so that the air can circulate.” Chase recommends “keeping your hot wood and coals to the front and your new, cold, wood to the back so that’s a primary air vent can blow across the hot coals and into your cold wood.”

What can I do if I have an older model stove or fireplace?

If you have an older, less efficient or open fireplace, Tristan doesn’t believe there’s much that can be done to increase efficiency other than add an insert of gas or wood. An insert is a metal box that goes inside the firebox of an open traditional fireplace. It has a metal pipe that goes all the way to the top inside the chimney. The pipe is separate and not in contact with the preexisting structure. 

Tristan says the first consideration is the dimension –making sure the insert fits within the fireplace properly. “You don’t get one too oversized or it’s impossible to install. You want to get one of properly sized for the firebox and then basically it just comes down to design and usage.” Inserts can have fans installed at the bottom that blow the heat from around the box so then you get more heat out of it. 

If you are looking for an insert, Tristan recommends shopping locally at Vaglio Fireplace Centre, Fireplace by Maxell, or Fireplaces Unlimited on Main Street. His favorite brand of insert is Regency “just because of how the installation is thought out. It’s flawless and easy to install.” Added bonus is that Regency is locally produced in Delta. Another of Tristan recommendations is the Belgium producer, Stüv. 

What if I want a new fireplace or wood stove?

If you’re looking to buy a new fireplace or wood stove, both Tristan and Chase suggest also shopping locally: “Regency is in Delta. Pacific Energy is in Duncan on Vancouver Island. Quality products and they’re both accessible in terms of parts so if you need anything they’re easier to get.”

Reliability is a definite consideration and for that reason he doesn’t recommend shopping at places such as Costco as the products are typically not going to last as long. 

If you’re looking for something more high-end Chase would suggest Jotul and Tristan looks to Stüv. “They’re more on the ultramodern side. It’s kind of like buying a Lexus or a high-end Mercedes style of stoves.”

New fireplace or wood stove – what do I need to consider?

Other than price point, what are some considerations when looking for a new fireplace or wood stove? 

“You want to get one that’s properly sized for the room you want to heat up. You don’t want to get a big one just because you think the big one is going to heat up the place. They can definitely get too hot.”

Most manufacturers will describe their products in terms of “BTUs” or British Thermal Unit, a traditional unit of heat. Manufacturers “do a lot of testing so they’ll let you know for your square footage size which one’s going to be the most efficient for that room size.” 

Catalytic wood stoves are ideal for those wanting to supplant their heating needs with their wood stove. Catalytic stoves give you a cleaner and longer burn. Other considerations would be style (modern or traditional), durability, and weight. Manufacturers are using different alloys, which affect durability, heat transfer, and weight. Older stoves often weigh a ton.

When choosing a stove one needs to think about the amount of weight you want to put on your floor and that there’s proper support underneath the hearth. Also, if you were to move do you want to take the wood stove with you?

You want to match your stove choice, whether it be more traditional or modern, with your overall interior design. “ Maybe you have an older looking home then you don’t necessarily want something modern in there with more of a boxy style and clean lines.” Or vice versa. 

For more information on chimney and fireplace safety visit The Chimney Safety Institute of America or Home Advisor. 

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