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Home Heating

1. How are my Home Heating Emissions Calculated? The first question you are asked is approximately when your house was built. Then you will be asked how big your house is. These two questions let the calculator know the basic facts about your house, which are used to estimate the total amount of energy needed to heat and cool your home. Then you are asked what type of fuel is used to heat your home, and the type of furnace you have. This information gives the calculator some basic information about your heating system. Your emissions are calculated by taking an estimate of the total amount of energy needed to heat your home and factoring in how much fuel your furnace needs to produce the necessary heat. The calculator then knows how much fuel is needed to heat your home over the year. Based on the fuel you indicated you used to heat your home, your total fuel consumption is then multiplied by a known "emissions factor" - the amount of greenhouse gases produced when, say, a cubic metre of natural gas or a litre of oil is burned. These emission factors have been established by scientific studies done by research organizations. The total greenhouse gas emissions produced by your house are then divided by the number of people in your home to arrive at your personal emissions.

2. Why does the House Style affect it? Because they have common walls that are not exposed to the exterior, town homes, semi-detached homes, duplexes, triplexes, apartments and condominiums use less energy per square foot of heated floor space than single detached homes. For example, apartments typically use up to 35 percent less energy per square foot of heated floor space than single detached homes.

3. How Does the Age of My Home Affect Emissions? Newer homes are usually more energy efficient than older homes, mainly because of higher levels of attic, wall and foundation insulation, better windows and the use of air/vapor barriers. The more fuel used, the greater the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, many older homes have had insulation added to the walls and ceiling, and new windows and doors have been installed. In addition, caulking and weather stripping may have been added around doors and windows to reduce leaks. If you live in an older home and it feels drafty and cold in the winter, consider adding insulation, upgrading the windows and doors, or adding or replacing the caulking and weather stripping. You could save considerable amounts of energy, greenhouse gas emissions and money! If you have already added insulation to your home, installed caulking or weather stripping or upgraded the windows and/or doors, use the "hints and tips" to reflect what you have done. That way, you will get a more accurate estimate of your personal greenhouse gas emissions.

4. What is Insulation and How Does It Work? Insulation traps air and stops it from moving. This trapped air keeps the heat inside your house and keeps the cold outside. Different materials can be used as insulation, but the most common types are strips of fiberglass (called fiberglass batts), rigid Styrofoam or loose cellulose material that is usually blown in using a large flexible hose. You can find insulation inside your walls and in your attic. The more insulation that is in your walls and attic, the more energy efficient your home is.

5. What About Windows? Windows in older houses often have only one pane of glass, although they often come with storm windows. The storm windows are made of either a single pane with a wood frame that can be removed, or permanent metal frames with a lower panel that can be raised vertically during the warm summer months. In either case, the space between the inner window and the storm window will be large, usually about 10 cm (4 inches). This gap allows air to move from the inner window, where it is warmed from the house interior, to the outer storm window, where the warmth is transferred to the cold outside air. The air then moves back to the inside pane where it is warmed again and the process starts over. This process of air movement is called a conviction current. In addition, glass transfers heat from one side to the other very effectively, which means that single pane windows are not good at keeping the heat inside the house. The process of transferring heat from one side of a pane of glass to the other is called radiation. Finally, warm air from inside the house escapes from gaps around the window. Newer windows solve these problems in a number of ways. First, they have two or three panes of glass mounted on a single frame, with only a very narrow gap between each pane. The gaps between the panes are too narrow to allow the air in between to move. The narrow gaps reduce heat loss by preventing air convection currents from being set up. Air that cannot move is a very good insulator; it does not allow heat to be transferred from one pane of glass to another very easily. This reduces heat loss from radiation. Some new windows also use argon or krypton instead of air to fill the gap between window panes. Argon and krypton gas are even better insulators than air. These new windows also come with a coating on the glass called low-emissivity (low-e for short). This low-e coating allows heat from the sun to come in during the winter, but prevents the sun's energy from coming into the house during the warm summer months. Low-e reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by letting the sun heat your home during the winter, but preventing it from making your house even hotter in the summer. It also makes your house more comfortable to live in. As its energy efficiency increases, a window not only lets less warmth out of the house, but also lets less cold into the house in winter. An energy-efficient window feels warmer in winter than a single-pane window if you touch it inside because it is better at keeping the cold out. The figure below shows how the inside temperature of different types of windows changes depending on the type of windows and the outside temperature. Finally, newer windows are tightly sealed between the glass and the window frame. They also come with a thin strip of rubber around the window casing and a latch, so that when you close the window the gap between the window frame and casing is tightly sealed. This prevents warm air from escaping to the outside of the house. Whatever type of window you have in your house, there are ways you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. If one side of your home faces south, or within 30´┐Żof south, make sure you leave your blinds open during the day and close them at night. Honeycomb construction blinds and heavy drapes can reduce heat loss and improve comfort at night by acting as insulation.

6. Should we be plugging the leaks? Newer houses are usually built with air/vapor barriers throughout the walls and ceiling. An air/vapor barrier is a layer of thick plastic that is placed inside walls and in the attic, right next to the insulation. Air/vapor barriers reduce the amount of warm, moist air leaking through the openings in walls to the outside. These barriers also protect insulation and other wall materials from the danger of condensation as warm, indoor air reaches the colder outer walls. Condensation in walls can cause serious damage to your home. Newer houses also have better seals (called weather stripping) on the doors, which also reduces leaks of warm air to the outdoors.

7. Why is the Size of My House Important? Usually, larger houses need more energy for heating and cooling. However, this is not always true. A house's air tightness and levels of insulation will also affect the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling, and therefore the emissions generated.

8. Why does Fuel Type Make a Difference? Different fuels release different amounts of greenhouse gases when they are used. For example, for a given amount of energy needed, natural gas produces fewer greenhouse gases when it is burned than heating oil, and wood produces fewer greenhouse gases than natural gas. Depending on which province you live in, electricity either produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than natural gas, or more.

9. How does the efficiency of my furnace affect my greenhouse gas profile? Your furnace converts the energy contained in the fuel you use, such as natural gas or oil, into heat. Some furnaces are more efficient at converting fuel energy into heat than others. Furnace efficiency applies only to furnaces that use natural gas, oil or propane as their fuel. As furnace efficiency increases, the greenhouse gases you produce to heat your home decreases, and you save money on your heating bills. If you would like to know further deals on cheaper gas or just finding gas prices, visit makeitcheaper. Generally, there are three different efficiency levels for most furnaces: Standard efficiency furnaces are generally furnaces older than 15 years. They probably take up a lot of space in your basement. These furnaces only convert about 60 percent of the energy contained in fuel into useful heat. Various provincial governments have banned the sale of standard efficiency furnaces. Mid-efficiency furnaces are generally newer furnaces. Mid-efficiency furnaces convert about 78 to 80 percent of the energy contained in fuel into useful heat and are usually smaller in size than standard efficiency furnaces. High-efficiency furnaces (or condensing furnaces) do not need a chimney. Instead, they vent their exhaust to the outdoors using a pipe that exits through the wall. A motor is used to force the exhaust out through the pipe. High-efficiency furnaces convert 85 to 96 percent of the energy contained in fuel into useful heat.