Archive for the ‘Heating and Cooling’ category

Pellergy, Service and Pellet Maker all together at the Vermont Home and Garden Show

April 21st, 2016

On one of the nicest days so far this year my husband and I took a field trip to Burlington, Vermont to check out all the green exhibits at the Vermont Home and Garden Show.

The first exhibit I saw was a “tri-exhibit” of Pellergy, Vermont Renewable Fuels and Green Mountain Wood Pellets . These three companies work together to provide homeowners with a no-fuss wood pellet boiler system. I know very little about wood pellet boilers, so I imagined that every few hours you have to go down to the deep dark recesses of your home, grab a few scoopfuls of pellets and feed it to a big scary oven. I believed that having a pellet furnace would be both inconvenient and tie you down — you could never leave your house for longer than a few hours without the place freezing up. But that image is totally wrong and misguided; these boilers are like modern gas or oil boilers only with a much lower carbon footprint. They heat the water just as effectively as oil and gas, while the wood pellets are delivered to your house, directly to your storage container through a vacuum hose that looks not unlike an oil hose.


Pellergy Alpha Boiler

Pellergy Alpha Boiler

Pellergy Alpha Self-Cleaning Boiler is made in Austria and uses wood pellets to produce enough heat to boil the water that goes through your radiant flooring system or radiator system. The difference between this system and an oil or gas boiler is only the fuel source. The ignition system that is used monitors demand and temperature and adjusts accordingly. Pellets are fed through a vacuum transfer system to the heating chamber when needed. I asked the exhibitor about the insurance issues — what do home insurers think about a fuel system made from wood? He said that insurers don’t have a problem with it because oil and gas are significantly more explosive than the wood pellets. And in terms of spillage, he said, “If you have a pellet spill, you use a broom to sweep it up.” Quite a bit different from an oil spill!


Pellergy boilers keep track of how many tons of wood are burned and when it reaches a certain amount, it connected wirelessly to the pellet delivery service, which will then schedule a delivery of more pellets. While the delivery truck looks just like an oil tanker, it’s filled with wood pellets. A vacuum system feeds the pellets into the home’s storage tank.

Pellergy Boiler Cutaway

Pellergy Boiler Cutaway

Pellets are fed automatically to the boiler, so you never have to worry about feeding the system — unless of course there’s a power outage. There is a manual system available, but the company has never installed one.

What I really liked about this system was the vertical integration. Last year Vermont Renewable Fuels bought its own mill which uses local Vermont white pine — essentially a weed tree that needs to be cleared out of the forest anyway. Foresters now have a market for this tree. Another benefit is that the mix of the white pine fibers with its sap produces a “premium quality” pellet that burns at the optimal temperature for longer and cleaner than a “high quality” pellet producing less ash than other pellets. One of the issues with pellet furnaces is the amount of ash that can build up after burning. The Pellergy units are self-cleaning. Using it together with the low-ash producing wood pellets will also mean less maintenance.


The cost of the system ranges from US$9,999 (A-60 Manual Feed) to US$11699 (AV-100) Vacuum feed plus tax and installation.  There are additional costs for the storage container as well. Rebates and incentives for wood pellet systems will vary depending on where in New England you live. You can check with a Pellergy installer or look on the DSIRE website.  (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency)


Vermont Renewable Fuels delivery truck

Vermont Renewable Fuels delivery truck

 Fuel rates: there is a good cost comparison to oil on Pellergy’s website, but basically, the cost of a ton of pellets ranges between US$240-290/ton. Based on the amount used through a winter equates to $2.14 per gallon of oil.

Carbon neutrality: using wood as fuel is considered carbon neutral as it is considered the same as if it had decayed naturally in the forest at end-of-life. Carbon is stored in wood until it is released upon burning or natural decay.


Other good resources for information on financial help for renewable energy systems in Vermont are:

The Renewable Energy Resource Center and,

Efficiency Vermont.

Waterfront Toronto Aims to Build the Greenest Community in North America

December 2nd, 2014
Sherbourne Common Water screens

Sherbourne Common Water Screens (stormwater treatment)

Sherbourne Common at Night 2

Sherbourne Common at Night

Waterfront Toronto was established in 2001 by the city of Toronto, the province of Ontario and the federal government. Its mandate was not just to revitalize the waterfront area, but also to do it using a framework of sustainability. They have developed incorporated into the design such things as making the roadways more pedestrian and bike friendly, creating parks surrounding housing developments, creating mixed-use spaces for businesses, services, education and housing. Low-income housing was also included in the plan. The building code standards are stricter than the city’s and are continually improving. Finally, riverfront and lakefront rehabilitation was one of the primary mandates. If you haven’t been down to see the wave decks yet, they are unique, award winning structures that have provided connections and continuations of pathways, but have also assisted in revitalizing the lake beneath it. Toronto Conservation Authority counted an increase in fish species below the decks from six to 27 at last count. » Read more: Waterfront Toronto Aims to Build the Greenest Community in North America

Tips for an Energy efficient warm winter

November 24th, 2014


Tips for an Energy efficient warm winter2
Summer is gone but with temperatures remaining high enough it may be difficult to think about heating and energy efficiency. You definitely should, however, consider that winter will be here soon and with its snow and cold weather. What you do now can have huge impact on your electricity bill and how well your home will be overall prepared to face the season challenges. The more you do about energy efficiency, the better.


Here are some general tips on how to make your home energy efficient for the cold months to come. Think about what your home can use and go for it. Carefully consider what you can do to change how much you spend on heating and how to make your home more efficient.

» Read more: Tips for an Energy efficient warm winter

Baseboard radiators that look like baseboards

June 9th, 2014
The baseboard is a radiator!

The baseboard is a radiator!


I was contacted by Christine from about their product which is a baseboard radiator.

You can create extra space in your home by converting old, iron radiators into these compact baseboard rads. They work with hydronic heating systems and come ready to install with connectors already in place. No welding or cutting is necessary.

Dimensions: They are 7 1/8″ high, 1 1/16″ thick and are available in various lengths. An eight foot baseboard rad will heat an average-sized room.

They are paintable, and you can find matching MDF baseboards anywhere baseboards are sold.

The rads are safer than electric baseboard heaters because there are no exposed elements. They are also more energy efficient.

Cost is $32/foot plus the cost of installation. Christine noted that they should be installed by a certified HVAC technician or plumber because they are part of a hydronic heating system.

The rads are manufactured in Pickering, Ontario.

For more information, visit their website:


Redwell Infrared Space Heaters

November 21st, 2012

Redwell Infrared Mirror

For those of us who live in drafty old  homes, this is the time of year when the space heaters get pulled out. They are great for rooms where the central heating just can’t keep the room warm enough — due to anything from old or single glazed windows to a lack of insulation. In one of the homes we lived in, on really cold winter days (-15C or below), ice would form on the inside of the exterior wall of my son’s bedroom. Like many older North Toronto homes, it was constructed with a double layer of brick but no insulation in between. Needless to say, a space heater was necessary in this room! Our ordinary, radiator-type plug-in space heater warmed the air within the room and as long as it wasn’t too drafty, the room stayed relatively warm as long as the heater was on. There is, however, a newer kind of space heater that’s been on the market since 2002, which is an infrared space heater made by an Austrian company, Redwell Heating.

Redwell Infrared Blackboard Heater

It’s important to recognize that there are two types of radiation out there: ionizing (the kind that’s in X-rays and alpha, beta and gamma rays — it’s the group that can cause radiation poisoning, but is also used in radiation therapy) and non-ionizing, which includes radiowaves, microwaves and infrared waves. This is the kind of heat that is transferred via electromagnetic waves from one body to another. The sun, fire, an incandescent light bulb are all forms of radiant heat.

Redwell, began using infrared technology to develop space heaters back in the ’90s. Redwell explains what infrared heating is:

Infrared energy is the frequency range on the electromagnetic spectrum that falls immediately below visible red light. The body’s tissues normally produce infrared energy (which is why people can be seen on infrared cameras) for warmth and tissue repair. Infrared energy can penetrate the body more than an inch to provide heat deep in the body where it is needed. Conventional heating systems only heat the air around the body. Infrared is the energy behind the warmth we feel from the sun, even on cold winter days.

In the wintertime, we feel we need to wear a sweater in order to be comfortable in a room with an air temperature of 18C (70F) However, in the summer time, we feel comfortable with short sleeve shirts and shorts with the same air temperature. Why is this? It is because the infrared waves heat the objects around us and this heat radiates and warms our bodies. We’re warm on the inside.

Infrared waves are thermal. In other words, we experience this type of infrared waves every day in the form of heat! The heat that we feel from sunlight, a fire, a radiator or a warm sidewalk is infrared. The temperature-sensitive nerve endings in our skin can detect the difference between inside body temperature and outside skin temperature.

So why are infrared heaters better than regular space heaters? Infrared technology is more energy efficient than convention space heaters which just heat the air around it. Because infrared heaters transfer heat to the objects around them the heat is slowly released from the objects over time. The heaters don’t need to work as hard as they do when they are heating air. Infrared heating can also help improve the air quality of damp spaces; because the heat transfers to objects in the room, including walls, floors and ceilings, it will dry out damp walls, floors, or anything else that is damp, helping to prevent or stop mold growth.

Another feature of Redwell heaters is their look. They are available in many different panel forms and the surface can be a blackboard, whiteboard, mirror, picture available from the Redwell site, or a custom print.

The final advantage of a Redwell heater is the ease of set up. They can be hardwired into a room (you can purchase thermostats on the Redwell website), or plugged into a 120volt outlet, mounted on the wall or ceiling, or set on a stand so that it can be moved from room to room.

These infrared heaters are easy to set-up, have an exceptionally long life span, are low maintenance and have lower running costs and conventional space heaters. Redwell infrared units have been approved by the Canadian Standards Association, Underwriters Laboratories, ISO 9001,2000 and 14001:2004.

Charlene Greidanus, from Redwell Heating, sent me their current price list and panel sizes. Please note that prices are current as of November, 2012.

White Heaters              Watts             Dimensions     Weight       Retail Price

(white frames)                                                       (inches)           (lbs)        (Cdn $)

Tallwave                             300                            40×15″                22           $1100 .00

Middlewave                       280                           24×20″               17            $1010.00

Largewave                         580                           40×24″                28            $1265.00

Xlargewave                       850                           49×29″                41             $1470.00

Megawave                       1100                           79×23″                66            $1745.00

Chalkboard Heaters  Watts           Dimensions       Weight       Retail Price

(aluminum frame)                                          (inches)                (lbs)               (CDN $)

Middlewave                           280                         24×20″               17            $1010.00

Largewave                              580                        40×24″                28            $1265.00

Xlargewave                            850                         49×29″                41             $1470.00

Megawave                            1100                         79×23″                66            $1745.00

Mirror Heaters           Watts            Dimensions      Weight      Retail Price

(frameless)                                                         (inches)              (lbs)             (CDN $)

Tallwave                             300                            40×15″                22           $1320.00

Middlewave                       280                           24×20″               17            $1110.00

Largewave                         580                           40×24″                28            $1555.00

Xlargewave                       850                           49×29″                41             $1925.00

Glass Heaters            Watts               Dimensions    Weight      Retail Price

(Black/White, Frameless)                               (inches)            (lbs)              (CDN $)

Tallwave                             300                            40×15″                22           $1465.00

Middlewave                       280                           24×20″               17            $1350.00

Largewave                         580                           40×24″                28            $1655.00

Xlargewave                       850                           49×29″                41             $1950.00

Art Heaters               Watts                Dimensions    Weight      Retail Price

(Aluminum frame)                                              (inches)           (lbs)              (CDN $)

Middlewave                       280                           24×20″               22           $1170.00

Largewave                         580                           40×24″                39           $1520.00

Xlargewave                       850                           49×29″                50            $1860.00

Megawave                        1100                          75×32″                66            $2615.00

Round Heaters        Watts               Dimensions       Weight     Retail Price

(inches)             (lbs)                (CDN $)

Small round – White         215                        23″ diameter        13                 $835.00

Middle round – White      310                        28″ diameter       19                 $915.00

Large round – White      1055                        35″ diameter       28              $1055.00

Middle round – Mirror    310                         28″ diameter      24               $1100.00

Large round – Mirror       351                         35″ diameter      33              $1310.00


Plug-in Thermostat PSP 300                                                            1                     $65.00

Hardwire Thermostat PSPLV512                                                    1                     $75.00

Foot Stand                                                                                                1                  $175.00

For more information on Redwell Heating, visit their website.

To find a dealer near you, visit this page.





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