Barbecue Freedom

Can you enjoy the same smoky flavor without the hassle and mess of charcoal or propane?

Yes! There is no propane tank to fill up or charcoal mess! Natural gas controls are right at your fingertips, which gives you easy access to clean and abundant energy for cooking outdoors. Safe, convenient, and reliable – natural gas barbecues will keep your food hot and your kitchen cool. Natural gas flames provide an adjustable source of heat that can be fine-tuned with precision. Available in a variety of sizes and price ranges, gas grills are easy to use, easy to clean, and are virtually maintenance free. So what are you waiting for? Get grilling with gas!

So you want a fireplace …

There’s nothing like cozying up to a warm fireplace on a cold winter’s night. But if you’re in the market for a new fireplace, the options can be overwhelming: Should you get an insert or a freestanding model? How will the venting work? Should you choose natural gas, electricity or wood fuel?

The best place to start your search is at home. First, determine why you want a fireplace. Will it heat your home, or is it primarily a decorative appliance? Also take into account how much work you’d like to invest in your fireplace. You may love the crackle of a wood fire but do you want to split, or purchase split firewood and build fires regularly? Perhaps you would prefer flicking a switch – or even using a remote control – to start your fire.

You should also keep energy efficiency in mind. Some existing wood-burning fireplaces may actually increase heating costs since they draw air from an already heated room to keep the fire going. But that’s not necessarily the case with today’s wood, electric and gas-fueled fireplaces. Many are stocked with efficiency options: heat circulators; forced air systems to spread the heat; triple-walled vents to help guard against the cold air that sneaks in when the fireplace is not being used.

Finally, cost is naturally a consideration. New fireplaces range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Fuel prices are another factor to think about. Gas and electric fireplaces cost about 15 to 25 cents per hour to operate. Firewood is measured in cords. One cord is 1.2 by 1.2 by 2.4 metres (4 by 4 by 8 feet), and may cost several hundred dollars, depending on the type of wood. However, many firewood dealers sell partial cords, called face cords, stove cords or furnace cords.

And don’t forget that if your fireplace is used for heating, you should be able to turn down your home’s thermostat, cutting your furnace fuel costs.

Fireplaces – The Magic and the Mystery

Fireplaces are no longer used as the primary source for heating homes, but the magic of a fire stills makes a fireplace a valued part of any home. There are few things nicer than a cheery fire, especially on a cold winter night. By the same token, there are few things more distressing than a fireplace which doesn’t draw – belching smoke into the home, chasing people out, setting off smoke detectors, and dirtying everything in sight. Why do some draw perfectly, and others so poorly?

Carson Dunlop Reports »

Wood-burning fireplace selection tips

For some of us, nothing can replace the popping sounds and smoky aroma of a real wood fire. While wood fireplaces or stoves require no electricity or natural gas, they can be labour-intensive since wood needs to be supplied. They can be put almost anywhere in a room, provided there’s a chimney available.

Here are some considerations when shopping for a wood fireplace:

Look for Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification. Since these units must meet strict environmental guidelines, they usually have advanced combustion technology that helps reduce pollution, providing more heat and less smoke. Clean-burning fireplaces can sometimes lower smoke emissions by as much as 90% compared with conventional models.
Consider a high-efficiency model. These are environmentally friendly, since they re-burn the gases and smoke a second time for more heat, and lessen how much wood you need.

Consider an insert if you already have a traditional masonry fireplace. Older fireplaces may increase heating costs, since they take in air from the already heated house. Wood inserts have efficiencies of anywhere from 50% to 70%. But an insert is a permanent installation – once it’s in, you can’t return to your masonry fireplace.
If you don’t have the luxury of a built-in fireplace, but still like the option of a wood-burning appliance, consider a wood-burning stove. Here are two choices:

Radiant stoves: these units, such as cast iron stoves or models with heavy steel plate surfaces, push the heat out in all directions. Therefore, it’s more difficult to distribute the heat throughout the house. But everything, such as walls and ceilings, as well as everyone facing the stove, will feel its comforting heat directly.

Convection stoves: these heat up the air moving through the stove’s body – air enters at the bottom of the appliance and flows through the room via a grill on the top of the stove. The air can be more easily distributed, and it’s a good choice if you need to put the stove in a room that’s not necessarily a main part of the house.

Natural gas fireplace buying tips

Convenience is the big seller for natural gas: no ashes or wood to clean up, and you can light your fire with the flick of a switch. Gas models are also compact, requiring little space to install. And they can go virtually anywhere thanks to numerous venting options:

Direct vent: this type of natural gas fireplace is designed to vent directly out of the exterior house walls or through the roof, rather than a chimney. It has a sealed, double-pipe venting system which makes it an efficient heating appliance using the outside air. A direct vent fireplace is a good choice for homes without a chimney or that are well-insulated.

B vent (also know as natural draft): this is a more economical option than a direct vent. This system uses the room air for combustion, and is fairly easy to install. It’s a space saver too, but generally needs something to finish it off, such as a mantel.

Freestanding fireplaces are another option. These range from small hearth mounts that sit snugly in front of existing fireplaces to freestanding stoves. Again, venting comes into consideration because these fireplaces may be vented into chimneys, or through the roof with new venting, or out the wall in direct venting. Freestanding units are suitable for hard-to-heat locations such as the basement.

Inserts are something to consider if you have a traditional masonry fireplace and are looking for a more efficient heat source. Due to sizing, there may be a gap between the insert and the inside of a fireplace, but a faceplate can cover up the gap.

Energy-efficiency ratings: When shopping for a natural gas fireplace, the Office of Energy Efficiency (part of Natural Resources Canada) recommends that you ask for the CGA-P.4 Annual Fireplace Efficiency rating of the models you are interested in. This is the Canadian Gas Association standard for measuring fireplace energy efficiency. The most efficient units will operate in the 50% to 70% range. For more information »

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