Friday, 19 December 2014

Maintaining Floor Drains

Most homeowners would not realize that basement floor drains are critical for their heating and cooling equipment. They are also there to protect your investment if unexpected water enters into your basement.

Modern furnaces and air conditioners all have condensate drain lines. They require a properly operating floor drain to take away this moisture. You can hear water dripping from your air conditioner when it’s running. Many people do not realize that modern high efficiency furnaces also have condensate lines producing moisture during the heating season. Modern by-pass style furnace humidifiers also have a drain line that goes into your floor drain. These units can run quite a bit of water into the drain when they are operating.

A slow running floor drain in the basement is more than a nuisance. If you have a pipe break, or a washing machine hose burst, you’ll need a floor drain that gets rid of all the water quickly. This will give you time to correct the problem without a lot of damage to your basement.

Floor drains can block up for any number of reasons. It could just be accumulated sediments. It could be tree roots. The drain line may have even broken open and be blocked by soil.

Professional plumbing contractors now use video equipment to diagnose floor drain problems. A small video camera is pushed through the drain line with a flexible cable that connects to a monitor. The unit has a light, so that the camera can get a good view of obstructions. The operator can see exactly what is blocking the line. He can even download copies of images and video that the homeowner can view on their home computer.

If the line is blocked by sediment or tree roots, specialty augers can be employed to clear the line quickly. These augers have a cutting blade at their head. The operator can adjust the speed that the auger runs at, depending on what has to be cleared in the line.

If the drain line or sewer is broken, it normally needs to be dug out to repair it. The video equipment also can be equipped with a locator feature. This way, the contractor knows exactly where to dig. This saves the homeowner time and money. It also minimizes disruption to the property.

Homeowners also should be aware of unusual smells coming from basement drains. This can be caused by a leaking trap, blocked lines or improper venting of your plumbing.

A simple solution can be to pour some water into the floor drain. The trap is designed to keep smells coming back into the home. If the drain is dry, there is nothing to block odors from the line. Normally if you look into the floor drain with a flashlight, you’ll always see some water. If the water all runs away, you may have a leak in the trap.

A previous owner of your house may have done some D.I.Y. plumbing or hired an unlicensed handyman. This is often the reason that professional plumbers find improper venting. If you have a sink or tub that always drains slowly or makes a lot of noise when draining, this could be the cause.

The Hayter Group has the industry’s best video inspection equipment and augers for clearing obstructed drain pipes or sewer lines. Video inspection equipment enables us to diagnose the problem quickly. Once the problem is properly diagnosed, we have the equipment to clear lines quickly and efficiently. In the end, dealing with properly equipped licensed tradesmen will save you money. The job is done as quickly as possible and it’s done correctly.

The Hayter Group provides drain and sewer video inspections in Kent County, Western Middlesex County, Western Elgin County and Lambton County from our locations in Alvinston, Ontario and Chatham, Ontario. Call us anytime for emergency plumbing service.

Chad Hayter

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Do You Need to Humidify Your Home?

The advantages and reasons for using a humidifier in the winter months are not always obvious to homeowners. Maintaining proper humidity levels benefits your health, your comfort, your home’s efficiency and your investment.

In Southwestern Ontario, we get a lot of cold damp days in the winter. Even on damp days, when you heat the air in your home, humidity levels drop. Warm air expands and relative humidity drops. If you wake up in the winter with dry eyes and nose, it’s because the relative humidity in your home is too low.

Health Benefits

Humidity allows the tiny hairs in your nose to move and do a better job of filtering out bacteria and viruses. Proper humidity can actually lower the chance of getting a cold or the flu.

We all know that if we have a cold, a humidifier helps us breath easier and soothes the throat. Humidity also has a major impact on skin conditions like eczema. Dry air also dries out your skin which can cause itchy scaly rashes. Proper hydration and humidity can also lessen snoring.

Comfort and Efficiency

Indoor air in winter, can have humidity levels at around 10% without a humidifier. The ideal winter humidity level for your home is between 30% and 40%.

Increasing humidity in the air will make your home feel warmer. Air that is 70°F and 10% humidity will feel like 67°F. Air that is 70°F with 50% humidity feels like 69°F.

After you have installed a humidifier, you will find that you can keep your thermostat at a lower setting while maintaining comfort. Keeping your thermostat just a degree lower will add up to a lot of energy savings over the winter.

If you pet your cat or dog in the winter, you can get a static electricity shock if the air is too dry. Other signs of static electricity are unruly hair and socks stuck to shirts. Any of these nuisance shocks will be eliminated by proper humidification.

Protecting Your Investment

Static electricity can be an expensive problem as well. Static electricity in your home can damage sensitive electrical equipment like computers.

Wood furniture does not do well in a dry home. Joints on chairs that are glued can shrink and come loose, causing a creaky chair. Cabinet doors can get out of alignment or warp if your house is too dry.

If you’ve installed a hardwood floor, the manufacturer will have humidity recommendations. A dry home will cause gaps between the boards to grow. Flooring manufacturers will not honor warranties if you have not maintained proper humidity levels.

Tropical plants are also susceptible to low humidity. Leaves may get brown at the tips or die off completely. The health of your plants is an indication of the health of your home’s air.

Types of Humidifiers

Whole home humidifiers are installed on your furnace. There are three common types of furnace humidifiers.

Steam humidifiers use less water than other types. 100% of the water used is converted to humidity. Steam humidifiers are also the healthiest choice. They don’t have moisture filled pads that can be a place for bacteria to grown. Maintenance is simple, just clean it annually. A steam humidifier actually cleans itself during the heating season.

Bypass humidifiers are quite simple and trouble free. Water runs over a pad. The moisture evaporates into the air as your furnace fan blows over the pad. These types of humidifiers can deliver a lot of moisture into the air. The drawback is that they waste a certain amount of water. They have a drain pipe that needs to be kept clean.

Drum humidifiers are more common in older homes. A pad wrapped around a rotating drum soaks up water from a tray. Moisture is evaporated into the air, much like a bypass humidifier. Drum humidifiers have more moving parts and are more likely to fail. They require annual cleaning and pad changes.

The Hayter Group sells and services Honeywell Whole Home Steam and Bypass Humidifiers. New humidifiers are often installed with new furnaces. We’ll also service your existing humidifier, when we service your furnace. If you don’t have a humidifier or need one replaced, we are happy to meet with you to make sure that you get the model that will best fit your needs.

Chad Hayter

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

What is Zuba Central?

It’s a revolutionary new alternative for heating and cooling your home.

Many people are aware that if you want to improve on the performance of a high-efficiency natural gas furnace, you can go to a geothermal heat pump. Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient way to heat and cool your home.

Geothermal however is not for everyone, as the costs can be high with vertical installations and of course the disruption to your property.

Mitsubishi Electric has developed new leading edge technology that’s changing the heating and cooling equation. Zuba-Central is a system that can heat and cool your home. Heating costs in a typical South-Western Ontario home are 28% lower than a mid-efficiency natural gas furnace and 60% less than electric, oil or propane heat! The bonus is you also get cooling at a fraction of the cost of conventional air conditioning systems.

The Zuba-Central system is perfect for existing homes with a forced air furnace. The system is made up of two major components. There is an air handling system that replaces your existing furnace. There is also an outdoor unit that looks much like an oversized air conditioning unit.

The air handling equipment is connected to the outdoor unit with refrigerant lines, just like a conventional air conditioning system.

A heating and cooling system’s performance can be represented by its Coefficient of Performance (COP). COP is a standardized measurement of how much energy you get from every unit of energy input.

There are 3 types of gas furnaces: low-, mid- or high-efficiency. Older low-efficiency gas furnaces that are chimney vented have a COP between .6 and .75. Mid-efficiency gas furnaces generally have a COP from 0.78 to 0.82. High-efficiency gas furnaces achieve a COP range of 0.89 to 0.95. Most oil furnaces are generally in the 0.70 to 0.84 range.

A COP of .8 means that 80% of the fuel that you are buying is being converted to heat. The other 20% is going up the chimney.

Electric heat is actually more efficient than gas or oil. Electric baseboard heaters have a COP of 1. There is no wasted energy. The reason they are so expensive to heat with, is the high cost of electricity.

Zuba-Central has a COP ranging from 1.4 to 3.19. Zuba-Central is able to achieve these amazing COP ratings because it not only converts 100% of all electrical energy into heat, but it also absorbs outdoor heat energy, which is essentially free.

Zuba-Central is a heat pump with two key components: the compressor and the refrigerant. The system absorbs heat energy from outside and transfers that energy indoors via refrigerant which is moved throughout the system by the high efficiency compressor. And the higher the outdoor temperatures rise, the more efficient the system becomes.

In our area, most winter nights will be between 0°C and -10°C and your Zuba-Central system will be very efficient. The lower COP range on the Zuba-Central will occur on colder -20°C nights. Unlike more traditional heat pumps, a Zuba-Central will still draw heat from the outdoor air at frigid -30°C temperatures.

The Zuba-Central outdoor unit measures 13" (33 cm) x 37" (950 cm) x 53" (1350 cm). This is smaller than a traditional Air Conditioner. The indoor Air Handling Unit is smaller than a gas furnace, and fits right onto your existing ductwork.

You may not even realize your Zuba-Central system is working. The unit runs at noise levels of 52db(A), far less than the 80db(A) of most air conditioning units. Zuba-Central will run as quiet as a light rainfall.

The Zuba-Central system uses ozone-friendly R-410A refrigerant which produces no CFCs or HCFCs, and has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). Since Zuba-Central is energy-efficient and it’s capacity varies according to demand, it is actually more environmentally friendly than traditional air conditioners and gas or oil furnaces.

Zuba-Central provides both heating and cooling within the same system. It requires less maintenance than having an air conditioner and a furnace. Zuba-Central is electrically operated, therefore it has no ignition-related problems.

The compressor in a Zuba-Central system features a unique soft-start function, which draws only a small amount of power at start-up. This eliminates light flickering and surges.

Zuba-Central’s outdoor unit weights 267 lbs. Because it is so slim and compact, the unit is easy to handle and may also be wall-mounted to save outdoor space.

The Hayter Group is one of Southern Ontario’s largest geothermal contractors. The company also has expertise in high-efficiency gas, propane, wood and oil furnaces. There is not a single solution that works for every customer. Zuba-Central gives us another environmentally friendly cost efficient offering for our urban and rural customers.

Chad Hayter

Thursday, 30 October 2014

microFIT Solar Power Rates for 2015

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has announced rates it will pay for power from homeowners who install solar panels in 2015.

The provincial government has a program to encourage the development of solar power. The program for homeowners wishing to install panels on their roof is called microFIT. FIT stands for Feed-In-Tariff, which just means the rate the utility will pay for power produced for the grid.

The microFIT program is for FIT projects that are under 10kW. The program is specifically designed for homeowners. A 10kW system is made up of 40 solar panels on a home’s roof. Most residential solar panel installations are between 5kW and 10kW.

The OPA is required to review the prices offered on an annual basis to ensure both ratepayer value and a fair return on investment. The rate for 2015 is 38.4¢ per kWh.

The new rate is 3% less than the 2014 rate. Rates paid for solar power have declined steadily since the program was first introduced.

As the market for solar power has increased across North America, equipment costs have declined. The government has designed the program to provide a fair rate of return for homeowners investing in solar equipment.

Solar Panel systems that are 5 - 10 kW in size are surprisingly affordable. Full installation costs are in the range of a new car. Banks are willing to finance the systems because of the guaranteed government contracts. Financing costs are below the revenue a system will produce. A 10 kW system will generate over $90,000 in revenue and produce an ROI of 10-13%.

Homeowners that install solar panels continue to pay the utility 7.5¢ to 13.5¢ per kWh for the hydro they use (depending on time of use). They sell the power their solar panels produce back into the grid for 38.4¢ per kWh for the next 20 years.

The government is willing to pay a premium price for solar power for several reasons. Solar Power production peaks on the hottest sunny days in the summer, just when air conditioners cause peak demand to occur. The alternative to solar power during these peak times is more power plants and more transmission lines. This is a very expensive proposition just to supply power at peak demand times. Solar Power is produced without emissions, so we have cleaner air. Solar Power is used locally (in your neighborhood), so it does not require extra infrastructure spending.

The microFIT program is set up so everybody wins. There has been an increasing number of homeowners wanting to take advantage of this investment opportunity and at the same time make a valuable contribution to the environment.

Before you can proceed with solar panels, there is an approval process. Most homeowners in urban areas can obtain approval. There are some rural areas that cannot accommodate more solar projects. Reputable contractors like The Hayter Group help homeowners with the approval process with no out-of-pocket costs.

In 2015 the OPA will be looking to add as much as 70MW in residential solar projects to the grid. This is made up of a 50MW annual target, plus some carry-forward from the previous year.

The general rule of thumb is that 1MW will power 1,000 homes. The province will be adding enough solar power projects in 2015 to power a small city. There will also be an opportunity for 1,000’s of homeowners to make a great investment and at the same time make a substantial contribution to the environment.

Chad Hayter, The Hayter Group

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Heating the Workshop

Take a drive around South-Western Ontario to see the fall colours and you’ll also notice a lot of new buildings going up. Farmers are investing in their operations, building new barns, workshops and drive sheds.

The increase in propane costs has lead to a lot of questions about how to heat these buildings more efficiently. The choices available for most rural operations are propane, electric, oil, geothermal and wood.

It might surprise people to see wood as one of the choices. We have a company right here in Ontario that is manufacturing wood hybrid furnaces. The name of the company is Napoleon (you many know them for their barbeques) and they have a modern plant in Barrie, Ontario.

A wood hybrid furnace combines wood with a backup fuel source of either oil, electric, natural gas or propane. If you are away for a few days, or run out of wood on a cold night, the backup fuel source kicks in automatically.

Many farms have large wood lots, that always have lots of dead trees. People like to burn wood. It’s more labour intensive, but avoids large fuel bills in the winter when money is not always coming in.

The new Napoleon wood hybrid furnaces are highly efficient. The natural gas or propane furnace they are paired with run at 96% efficiency. Wood efficiency is more difficult to measure, because it varies with the type and quality of the firewood.

A consideration before installing a wood hybrid furnace is that it will require a long-term commitment. Studies have shown that after 3 years, the average Canadian finds they don’t have the time or inclination to continue cutting firewood.

The best way to deliver heat to a workshop is through in-floor tubes. The best time to install these is when you pour the floor for your new shop. In-floor heating is inexpensive to install during construction of a new shop. It leaves you with all sorts of options for what fuel to heat the shop with.

In-floor heating is more comfortable in a workshop. Shops normally have high ceilings. The heat is delivered at the floor, where it is needed. You feel more comfortable at lower temperature settings with in-floor heating. That also saves you on fuel costs.

Boilers can use wood, propane, natural gas, oil or almost any combination you decide. You can also install a geothermal system.

Geothermal systems are the most expensive to install, but the most cost-efficient to run over the life of the equipment. Geothermal is also the most environmentally friendly choice. Geothermal systems can use in-floor tubing or forced air duct work.

Revenue Canada helps soften the blow of installing geothermal with accelerated depreciation schedules. You can write-off 79% of the entire system in three years, and all within 5 years.

The Hayter Group specializes in rural service and installations. Over 75% of the company’s business comes from rural customers. We are well established to service our rural clients from three locations (Chatham, Alvinston and Cambridge).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Adding Solar Panels when Buying a New Home

Buying or building a new home is a great time for upgrades you have always wanted. You can often build a little extra into the mortgage for a new kitchen or a bathroom renovation.

If you are building your dream home, rather than buying an existing property, it can be a very exciting time. It can take months of planning. Buying a property, going over floor plans and selecting a contractor are all critically important decisions to make sure that you will be making a sound investment.

The array of options available today for new homes is incredible. Couples can have a lot of fun selecting kitchens, bathrooms, cabinets, counter tops and flooring. Additional dream home options include hot tubs, decks, saunas, pools and home theatre. Landscape and garden plans add to the list.

Why not consider an option for your new home that will help pay for all the extras. When you are building or buying a new home, it’s the perfect time to consider solar panels. Maybe you can even orient your new build so that you have the perfect south facing roof for solar.

The Ontario Government has several programs in place to encourage the development of renewable energy including wind and solar. The program of interest to homeowners is called microFIT. FIT is short for ‘feed-in-tariff’.

Simply put, if you put solar panels on your roof to produce electricity, the government will buy that power from you. The contracted rates currently offered by the government allow you to invest in solar panels and realize an attractive return on investment (ROI).

A typical solar panel system will add $20-$40,000 to the cost of building your home. Solar panels can generate up to $100,000 in income, depending on the size of your system. The income is guaranteed by a 20 year government contract. Your solar panels will produce an ROI of 10-13% on average.

Buying or building a new home is the perfect time because you can build the cost of your solar array into your mortgage. You’ll be paying 3-4% interest and earning 10-13%. If you are taking a 20 year mortgage, you’ll have income to offset your mortgage payments over the entire term.

Solar Panels for your home is similar to having an income property, you just don’t have to deal with tenants. Solar Panel systems carry 25 year warranties so your investment is virtually risk free.

Before taking advantage of this opportunity, you should review your solar contractor just as thoroughly as your home builder. Solar is a new industry and it has attracted many upstart companies.

The Hayter Group has been in business since 1952. We are a diversified company. We are one of South-Western Ontario’s largest geothermal contractors. We’ll be around to service you over the next 20 years and beyond. We’ve recently gained a solid reputation as one of Ontario’s leading solar contractors. The Better Business Bureau selected The Hayter Group as the winner of its’ Business Integrity Award in 2013. Building your dream home is also a great opportunity to be ‘green’ at the same time as you are making a sound investment, that will actually help pay for your new home.

Chad Hayter

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

What Is a Backup Generator?

A backup generator will power your home in the event of a power failure. It looks a lot like an Air Conditioning unit. It's installed outside of your home. It's fueled by either propane or natural gas. It comes on automatically, only a few seconds after a power failure. When the power is restored, the generator will shut itself off.

You are probably familiar with portable gas powered generators. You need to keep a can of gas around to run them. They'll run as long as you have fuel. They are noisy and will only run a few electrical items. If you experience an extended power failure, you'll probably run out of fuel.

If you live in an urban area and you have natural gas, you never have to worry about fuel. If you are in a rural area, you can hook the unit up to your propane tanks. If you have a geothermal or oil furnace, you can have the unit installed with it's own propane tank.

Why Would You Want One?

We've all experienced the inconvenience of a power outage. Extended outages can be very costly for a homeowner.

If you have a freezer, you may have quite a sizeable investment in frozen food that could all spoil without hydro.

Home electronics are becoming more and more important. Your TV and computer may be necessary for news and weather updates during a power outage. If you are running a business from home, costs of being down can run up very quickly. Many of us have phones that will need to be recharged in an emergency.

Winter power outages can create some big problems in our climate. No hydro means no heat. In an ice storm, without your furnace working, frozen pipes could prove to be very costly. Many homes also rely on sump pumps. During a thunderstorm, if your power goes out, your sump pump will not be running, when you need it the most.

In the summer, a backup generator can keep you comfortable when the lights are out. With a backup generator, you can run your air conditioner.

How Does It Work?

In addition to the generator installed outdoors, you'll have an automatic transfer switch (ATS) installed near your electrical panel. The ATS monitors the power coming into your home from the utility company. If there is an interuption in power, the unit signals the generator to start. This process takes less than 10 seconds.

The ATS will run a diagnostic test automatically every week to make sure your system is always ready and operational. You can even monitor your home remotely with your smart phone. You can receive text or email messages that your generator has come on when you are away from home.

Your ATS will also automatically shut down your generator when the utility company has restored your power.

Affordable Investment

Backup generators are now surprisingly affordable. Many people have them installed at their home and cottage. Many new homes are being built with a backup generator. They can be fitted to almost any existing home. They are not just for the country, they are quite practical in the city as well.

What About Solar Power?

Solar Panel systems can also be set up to provide backup power, even when the sun is not shining. This involves installing batteries to store energy for use at night or when it's cloudy. A backup generator can be integrated with your solar array.

What Does it Cost?

Every home is different. The Hayter Group is happy to evaluate your home to find the solution that makes the most sense for your situation and budget. The Hayter Group has been serving customers across South-Western Ontario since 1952. We are also very proud of our Integrity Award from the Better Business Bureau.

More information on our products and service can be found at .

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What Is a Ductless Split?

More and more homeowners and businesses are using Ductless Splits for cooling. They are very common in Europe and many Canadians are not familiar with them.

A Ductless Split consists of a wall-mounted unit in your home. It’s usually mounted near the ceiling on the second floor. You also have an outdoor condenser, which can be mounted on the exterior of the building or on the ground outside. Refrigerant lines connect the two units together.

As the name implies, no ducting is required. In most homes, central air conditioning uses the furnace fan and duct system to distribute cool air. This type of system works well for heating, but is not ideal for cooling. Hot air registers are normally in the floor, because hot air rises. In the summer, cool air also has to be delivered from the floor, which is not ideal, because cool air falls.

In a two-storey home with central air, it is always difficult to keep the upper floor cool. A Ductless Split solves this problem, because the cool air is delivered at the ceiling level.

Buildings that use hot water heating through radiators or in-floor heating have no ductwork to use for central air. This is another ideal application for a Ductless Split.

Ductless Splits vs. Window Air Conditioners

Ductless Splits have many advantages over window air conditioners. They don’t block off part of your window. They don’t pose any security risk. They are quieter than a window unit. Finally, they don’t have to be stored away for the winter.

Heat Pumps

A Ductless Split can also be ordered as a heat pump, where the unit can both heat and cool. It works like an air conditioner on a warm day. The pump extracts heat from inside the home and transfer it outdoors. Conversely, on cold days the pump will flow heat energy into the home from the outside.

Unlike water, which has a boiling point of 100°C, the liquid refrigerant in a heat pump has a much lower boiling point, even lower than the cold outdoor air. This is why in heating mode, the refrigerant can still evaporate in the outdoor coil at low temperatures and draw heat from surrounding air, making the seemingly impossible heating with cold air possible. The now-heated gas refrigerant flows into the indoor coil and extracts the heat into the indoor air. Despite frigid temperatures the air will contain enough energy to heat the home, even at -30°C.

Heat Pumps are an ideal solution for a cottage. They can also compliment an existing wood, oil, propane or electric furnace. Heat Pumps are far more energy efficient than any of these heat sources and will lower your heating bills in the winter.

Multi-Head Units

It is also possible to put wall-mounted units in several rooms. They all share the same outdoor condenser. This makes is possible to have different temperatures in different rooms. You can turn off the heating or cooling in a guest room if nobody is visiting, or you can keep an exercise room at a cooler temperature.

Mitsubishi Electric

The Hayter Group is a dealer for industry leading products from Mitsubishi Electric. We service and install Mr. Slim Heat Pumps and Ductless Air Conditioning. We also offer the Zuba Central system, which replaces traditional means of heating and cooling with one quiet, compact, highly efficient, ducted system that can save space and reduce annual energy costs.

Chad Hayter

Friday, 6 June 2014

Is Geothermal a Viable Option for Anybody?

I often hear from people that geothermal heating and cooling is not a practical choice for many people. Reasons cited are cost of installation and the misunderstanding that a large rural lot is required.


Geothermal Explained:

Geothermal is a combination of two words. Geo means ‘of the earth’ and thermal is to ‘heat’. The earth is a giant insulator. The ground temperature as little as five feet down remains almost constant all year round.

The heat store under the ground can be transferred to a building through a series of pipes called loops. The underground or underwater loops remove the heat from the ground and pump it into the building.

For cooling, the system is reversed. Heat is extracted from the building and pumped back to the earth.


Is Geothermal Difficult to Install?

The short answer is no. Depending on the space available, the installation of geothermal loops can be done in several different ways.

A vertical loop requires a deeper excavation than a horizontal loop, but it does not require a large rural lot. Loops can also run into a nearby pond or lake. Toronto has 130 buildings that draw their cooling energy from Lake Ontario.

Vertical installations are completed with powerful machines that drill down into the earth to find the warm spot, usually 100 - 200 feet down. Horizontal loops require excavation of long trenches.

What about the Cost?

On average, a geothermal system will cost 2 to 2.5 times the cost of an equivalent quality conventional heating and cooling system.

The geothermal system handles both heating and cooling. The system can also provide a good part of your hot water needs.

Homeowners that are building new or renovating will typically see 12 – 21% ROI on the premium paid for the geothermal system. The payback for a geothermal system can be as little as 3.5 years.

It’s not just for new construction. Older homes are not as well insulated and are not sealed off like a new home. A geothermal system can cut utility bills by up to 70%.


Fluctuating Energy Costs

The costs of oil, hydro, propane and natural gas have fluctuated in recent years. We all know about oil and hydro prices. Propane has recently become very expensive and low natural gas prices will not last forever.

Geothermal costs have remained stable since 2006 and are lower than $875 annually for most homes.

Geothermal delivers more bang for your buck. You get more heat per kilowatt of electricity used to run a geothermal system than any other fuel. You also produce additional energy, which can be used to heat hot water or warm swimming pools.

Home Resale Value

If you have two homes that are equal, except for their utility system. One house with a traditional gas furnace and hot water tank has a resale value of $300,000 in the current market. The one with geothermal should be worth 18 per cent more, with a resale value of $350,000.

The reason for the significant difference in value is twofold. First, geothermal systems are more energy-efficient. Second, replacement value is a factor with geothermal systems. They typically outlast conventional heating systems. The ground loop, which is a large part of the system’s cost, never needs to be replaced.


What is the Track Record for Geothermal?

Geothermal was first used to heat Canadian homes in the 1940’s. Since then, there have been many improvements in technology. Geothermal is now widely used in both businesses and homes. A number of well-known buildings such as Rideau Hall in Ottawa, the Pan-Am Aquatic structure in Toronto and The Forks Market in Winnipeg use geothermal. Even Buckingham Palace has a geothermal heating system.

Geothermal is a proven, reliable and green solution to your home comfort needs. For more information on geothermal heating and cooling, please visit our website.

Chad Hayter

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Does it Pay to use a Programmable Thermostat?

Most people are familiar with thermostats that can be programmed to adjust the temperature of your home at night when you are asleep, or during the day when you are at work. In the heating season, you can program down the temperature when you are asleep or away from home. In the summer time, you can program the temperature higher when you are away.

Many homes still have simple thermostats that people adjust manually. Many other homes have programmable thermostats that the home owner does not know how to use. Most of these are set at the same temperature level all day long.

People often do not believe there is any savings from adjusting the thermostat for a few hours. They believe that it takes more energy to heat up the house when they get home (or cool down the house in the summer). According to this theory, it’s better to just maintain the home at a constant temperature.

In 2005, the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology did a study to find out if there were any savings using programmable thermostats. This Federal Government department has a research facility in Ottawa with two identical homes built in 1998. The homes are typical of many subdivision houses. They have two floors, with a two car garage and basement. They are built to the R-2000 standard, typical in most newer homes in Canada, with natural gas furnaces.

In one of the homes, for the winter test, the thermostat was set back to 18°C (64.4°F) from 11:00PM until 6:00AM. The temperature was also set back from 9:00AM to 4:00PM. The morning and evening normal temperature was set at 22°C (71.6°F).

The second home was set at a constant 22°C (71.6°F). The home with the programmable thermostat used 10% less gas and 1.9% less hydro. The hydro savings result from the furnace fan not running as much.

For the summer test, the home with the programmable thermostat had the temperature set higher to 25°C (77°F) from 9:00AM to 4:00PM every day. This produced a hydro saving of 10.7%.

This study dispelled the myth and made it quite clear that a programmable thermostat can pay for itself very quickly.

Today’s WiFi thermostats offer home owners even more reasons to upgrade. They are far easier to program than the earlier generation of thermostats. You can adjust your thermostat using your smart phone.

If you are away on vacation and forgot to turn down the heat, you can do it remotely. They also offer peace of mind. You can set them up to notify you if your furnace stops working when you are away.
The Hayter Group features WiFi thermostats by Ecobee and Honeywell. Furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps and humidifiers can all be controlled by a modern thermostat. It’s more important than ever to have a professional installation to insure that your equipment is compatible with your thermostat.

You can enjoy a new thermostat controlled from your smart phone. If you are not currently automatically setting your thermostat when you are away, the new stat will pay for itself.

The Hayter Group

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

What are VOC’s? What is IAQ?

You’ve probably come across the acronym VOC if you’ve purchased paint lately. Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are a group of chemicals that contain carbon and hydrogen.

VOC’s are a very important factor in IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). VOC’s leak into your home’s air from a variety of sources including:
  • cigarette smoke
  • air fresheners
  • particle board in furniture and cabinets
  • paint and varnishes
  • glue
  • gasoline and other fuels
  • household cleaning products
  • carpets and under pads
  • foam cushions and mattresses
Many of these sources are commonly found in all homes. Indoor Air Quality is also impacted by biological pollutants like mould, bacteria and dust mites.

Health Canada estimates that Canadians spend 90% of their time indoors. This includes home, work and recreational facilities. Obviously, the largest portion of this time is spent in your own home.

Newer homes can actually present more problems than older homes. Newer homes are built to be as air tight as possible for energy efficiency. New homes are more comfortable and less drafty year round. Newer homes also contain more VOC’s, coming from new furniture, fresh paints, new carpets, etc. These pollutants stay trapped within the home.

Indoor Air Quality has a major influence on your health. Exposure to indoor pollutants can result in eye and skin irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headaches, nausea and fatigue. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States uses the name Sick Building Syndrome to describe illness caused by poor Indoor Air Quality.

There are several steps homeowners can take to improve IAQ:
  • Do not allow smoking in your home
  • Make sure kitchens and bathrooms are properly ventilated
  • Control humidity levels, make sure your home does not have areas that are always damp
  • Maintain appliances such as furnaces, gas stoves, water heaters
  • Check your furnace filters regularly
  • Install CO (Carbon Monoxide) Detectors
  • Use low VOC paints and cleaners
  • In Newer homes, consider installing an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) or an ERV (Energy Recover Ventilator)
  • Consider an Air Purifier mounted in your heating ducts

Air Purification Equipment

New technology originally developed by the Space Program has been adopted by an American company called Air Oasis. They manufacture a device which mounts into your ducting system. After installation, you can be breathing cleaner air within an hour. 99% of allergens, viruses and mold are removed from the air. Within an hour, 85% of VOC’s are also removed from your home’s air.

HRV’s & ERV’s

A Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) keeps your home supplied with a steady flow of fresh outdoor air. As stale, warm air is expelled, the heat recovery core warms the incoming fresh, colder air before it is distributed within your home. This constant supply of fresh air eliminates drafts and provides increased home comfort. By providing proper ventilation, an HRV controls excess humidity in your home. Improved ventilation will also improve indoor air quality.

Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) are suited to climates with hot humid summers, like we have in Southern Ontario. Similar to an HRV, the ERV recovers the heat in cold season, however, it also captures the energy trapped in moisture, which greatly improves the overall recovery efficiency. The ERV works as follows: In air conditioned homes, when it is more humid outside than inside, the ERV limits the amount of moisture coming into your home. In winter, when the humidity level is reversed, the ERV limits the amount of moisture expelled from your home.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Propane, Now an Expensive Way to Heat Your Home

There is now a propane crisis in rural Ontario that has become so serious that the Federal Government has called for an investigation.

Propane has been in short supply this year and selling at premium prices. Customers without fixed price contracts have been paying $1.18 per litre this January 2014, up from $.70 per litre in the Fall of 2013.

If you are using propane, approximately 65% of it is being used for heating your home. 22% goes for hot water and about 13% for cooking. These numbers will vary with the size and age of your home. The size of your family may also change these numbers.

As recently as five years ago, Propane was amongst the most economical ways to heat. Equipment costs were also very reasonable, because propane furnaces are almost identical to natural gas furnaces, which are manufactured in large numbers. As a result, many rural properties in Ontario rely on propane.

Propane has now passed both Electric and Oil and is now the most expensive way to heat your home or business.

The answer to this growing problem is right in the ground on your property. A geothermal system can reduce your bills for heating, cooling and hot water by up to 70%. With a geothermal heat pump, you are protected by swings in market prices for commodities like propane, oil or natural gas.

The additional costs of installing geothermal are easily justified by the long-term savings. Many property owners will see savings that are large enough, so that the system will pay for itself. There are several financing options available, so that you can start enjoying the benefits of a geothermal system today.

Chad Hayter

The Hayter Group