Where’s your heat going?

Rudy Norman
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Contractor says people should follow simple rules to ensure their homes are properly heated

With the dip in temperatures across the province, recently, residents have been definitely been affected by the cold.


Record lows on the thermometer mean means the task of heating a home is becoming increasingly more important, and difficult.

Most of today’s modern homes are heated by electrical heater systems.

Glenn Thomas is a Project Manager with Noble’s Construction in Springdale. His company has built many homes in the region and throughout the province, as well as other commercial projects for the Provincial Government and other clients, including the hospital expansion in Harbour Breton.

Thomas says the choice of going with electric heat is one of convenience and practicality over anything else.

“Probably 95 per cent of the houses we do now have electric heat,” he said. “It’s mostly because of zoning, and what’s possible when you use electric heat. You don’t need it to be 20 degrees in your entire house – some rooms you’ll want warmer than others, so with electric heat, that’s possible. It’s just more efficient.”

Thomas says his company, like many other construction businesses in the province, are feeling the effects of the rising economy and increase in new housing projects – which is why he understands when representatives from NL Hydro point to the housing developments in the province as a cause of the strain on the system which led to blackouts this week.

“That’s the thing about electric heat – it takes a lot to run it, especially if it’s a large house, and you need heat in most of the rooms.”

That can also get costly, said Thomas, which is why it’s important that people are aware that they’re not wasting their heat, driving their light bills higher in the process, and perhaps putting even more strain on the province’s hydro system.

“The biggest thing we find with modern homes today is that no one has a porch anymore,” he said. “Years ago when people built houses, they built it out of their own knowledge, and how they knew to do it, but that’s not so today.”

Thomas said the trend these days to visit a contractor with a plan already in place, that the homeowners have chosen based on something they’ve seen elsewhere.

“What you’ll see a lot of times is someone will come with a blueprint that they found online or in a book somewhere, and that’s what they want you to build them,” he explained. “The problem is, this design probably came from California somewhere, and while it looks great, it just wasn’t designed for our climate.”

Thomas said because of the lack of a need for a heat trap, or a porch on many of those designs, that doesn’t get worked into the building here – meaning a big loss of heat whenever someone opens a front door.

Something else people should be aware of, he said, is to check the weather stripping on their doors, to make sure it’s still in good shape.

 “You can have the best door going, but if the weather strip isn’t any good, then it’s pretty much useless,” he said. Shining a light around the edge of a door, or checking for drafts is a good way to test your weather strip.

Finally, Thomas says people should check their ceilings.

“We all know that heat rises, so if you touch your ceiling and it’s colder than your room temperature, that’s a sign that you’re probably lacking insulation.”

Another sign, he says, is a lack of snow on the roof. He said if the snow on your roof melts at a fast rate, then it’s probably indication that heat is leaving the house, and escaping through the roof – which isn’t a good thing.

“It all adds up,” he said. “People can save a lot on a light bill at the end of the month if they just make sure their heat is going to the right places.”


Organizations: NL Hydro

Geographic location: California, Springdale, Harbour Breton

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