• Canadian Hydronics Council
  • Industrial Pipe, Valve & Fittings Council
  • Plumbing Industry Advisory Council

The customers say it best

Ann Ritschell realized that to retain and increase the value of her restored century home near Elmira, Ontario, the expensive electric heating bills had to go.

As high as $600 per month, electricity was heating Ann and her husband out of house and home. After consulting with a contractor, they decided that a gas-fired hot water baseboard and wall panel radiator system was the best solution. In addition to cutting her heating costs by a whopping 90 percent, Ann was pleased with the flexibility she had in choosing radiators. "We were able to fit the right size and shape of radiator into every single space in our home," she says.

Thin wall panels fade into the walls and don't impede her decorating tastes, she says, while in other rooms rads were custom-built and painted to accent the interior décor.

The heat is very comfortable even when the thermostat is barely on, notes Ann, who says she likes the flexibility of having controls in each room to regulate the temperature with accuracy, to maximize comfort and keep fuel costs low.

Revenue Canada saves with hydronic system installation

You would expect Revenue Canada to know a good deal when it sees one. A combination of energy costs savings and high efficiency fueled its plans to install a hydronic heating system.

Managers at the 90-year old Revenue Canada heritage building in Thunder Bay replaced two gas-fired tube steam boilers with seven high efficiency 150,000 BTU boilers as part of a long-range plan to conserve energy in public buildings without causing structural damage.

After the retrofit, natural gas use was 60 percent, saving the government about $4,000 per year to heat the building.

Payback was achieved in under three years, according to Adrian Grenon, heating systems technologist for Public Works Canada, based on the full costs of the boilers. "I would have been pleased with any payback under five years," he said, "so this was excellent.

Country home heats with hydronics

Rural living has never been more comfortable for the owners of a country home heated the hydronic way!

Recently, homeowners in Bradford, Ontario switched off electricity and installed an oil-fired boiler and indirect-fired domestic hot water tank. For the family, the new combination means hot water reliability for long showers, dishes and laundry.

An oil-fired indirect water heater provides a much higher recovery rate than electricity and natural gas - as much as three times faster.

The owners also appreciate the financial benefits of their hydronic system. Over one year, the total energy savings was about $2,000 or 40 percent.

As a bonus, evenly distributed heat can also eliminate the drafts associated with strong country breezes.

No more shovelling with snow melt systems!

Imagine a snow and ice-free driveway throughout the worst Canadian winter. Mark Offenhammer of Brantford, Ontario knows the feeling since adding a hot water snow melt system.

The same technology - radiant hot water tubing under the floors - already heated his family's home and they appreciated the even, comfortable heat a hydronic system produces. "My feet are always warm and my child can play and crawl on the warm floors," he said.

Confident with his home heating system, Mark took another hydronic step and installed the snow melt system. "The same tubing used throughout my house has also been installed in the concrete driveway. The system uses a temperature/moisture sensor in the driveway, activating a pump that sends a glycol and water mixture through the driveway, melting any snow or ice.

Homeowner decorates with panel radiators

Ray Van Dette thinks hydronic heating systems are the hottest thing in art-deco - literally! Ray discovered that the slim hydronic panel heaters he used to replace cumbersome cast iron rads not only cost less to operate and distribute even heat, but they do it in an attractive, space-saving way.

"They are a very nice design. I've hung them horizontally, vertically….to me they can be used like a piece of art," he said. Ray has replaced cast iron radiators with radiant heat baseboards and panels in two homes so far and plans on using them again in a new building project next year.

"The heat is great and the looks are excellent. I'll continue to use them in my building projects."

Hotel guests rely on hydronics to stay poolside warm

Radiant floor heating is helping the Muskoka Grandview Inn serve its own brand of warmth and service. Since 1911, the magnificent Grandview Inn on the shores of Muskoka's Fairy Lake has prospered as city visitors visit for a special brand of warmth and hospitality.

Radiant underfloor heating was chosen to heat the inn's new recreation centre and pool because of its high-efficiency and unique self-regulating features.

Grandview can now offer guests recreational facilities 12 months a year. Ron Rose, Project Manager, explained the benefits by focusing on the swimming facility. "Radiant floor heating is particularly well-suited for the pool area because the guests can enjoy a warm poolside deck without the puddles," he said.

Hydronics is a comfy fit for elderly woman

When Paul and Elizabeth Sowrey's mother agreed to let her children build her a new one-level house, she knew she had very specific heating needs to be met.

Elizabeth says they decided to build a bungalow without a basement so her mother would not have to climb any stairs. Her mother lived in a basement apartment previously and always complained of having cold feet, so they knew they had to do something about the concrete floor. A radiant floor heating system was the solution.

"Since my mother moved in, she has not complained at all about having cold feet," Elizabeth says. "Hydronics is economical as well. My mother keeps the house at a high temperature and still her heating bills have not reached $500 after nine months!"

Family enjoys savings and peace of mind with hydronic system

Antonio Basca was tired of many nights in the emergency room, not to mention the heartache of seeing his young daughter suffer from asthma.

"When we took my daughter on a trip to Europe and discovered her health was greatly improved when staying in relatives' homes with hydronic heat, we decided to look into it." After their trip, Antonio and his wife built a new house that included a hydronic radiant floor heating system.

The 5,000 square foot house in London, Ontario has a radiant underfloor system throughout, including the basement and garage, with the added comfort of baseboard units in the bathrooms. It also has a system that provides air conditioning in the summer months.

"We are so happy with our new house," says Antonio. "My daughter's doctor had to call us to see if we moved because it had been so long since we had visited him with a problem."

Innovative Passenger Train Upgrade

In an area where the average snowfall is about 16 feet and the mean temperature in December is around -6 C, heating becomes a consideration of vital importance. For the Algoma Central Railway Inc. (ACR) located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, inefficient steam provided heat to its train cars for nearly a century.

Recently, Wardlaw Fuels installed oil-fired boilers in the train cars. Ralph Medaglia, superintendent of mechanical services for the ACR says that, "while the conversions will result in a two-and-a-half year payback on a complete system…the number one advantage is savings." In a 24-hour period in peak season, he says the steam system cost $2,500 for fuel and water to heat one or more cars. He compares this with just $36 per car daily for the new oil-fired system to operate in peak season.

Now each car has its own individual boiler, burner and storage tank. This means that if one boiler shuts down, only one car gets cold and repairs are minimal.

Warehouse facility reaps economic benefits of radiant heating

An Edmonton-based company recently tested the cost efficiency of its own radiant heating products when it decided to install a radiant heating system in its new production and warehouse facility.

The company's new site used its radiant heating for the warehouse and office area and a traditional natural gas fired overhead tube heating system for its production area.

Using its own hydronic products, the company had begun a project that created an ideal opportunity - being able to compare under controlled conditions how cost-efficient radiant heating was in comparison to industrial heating.

In less than a year, the cost savings were phenomenal. Their product was so efficient and inexpensive to operate that the overall cost - including purchasing, installing and operating the system was less than the costs incurred operating their industrial heating systems.

The Sarjeant Household

Rob Sarjeant is a home builder with a flair for detail. He is the owner of Moore Park Renovations, a growing Toronto based business. Sarjeant works closely with architects and engineers to provide optimum solutions for his customers. He is constantly looking out for new products and designs, while maintaining a strong standard for building solid, sound structures.

Last year, Sarjeant took some time for himself and designed a home for his growing family.

He designed a modest 2-storey home (2200 sq ft), but before finalizing his design he took his building plans to Fulford Supply, a hydronic heating wholesaler. He met with Michael Stuart, who is a hydronic heating designer. Stuart worked with Sarjeant to design and plan out an efficient radiant under-floor heating system. The first thing to do was cover heat loss. Using the plans, Stuart completed a whole house heat loss calculation to ensure a proper sized boiler would be installed. The Heat Loss Calculation was added to Sarjeant's plans in order to secure a permit for his job.

Many questions followed and needed to be answered.

What type of floor covering would be used? Wood, tile, carpet? Would he be adding any towel warmers to the bathrooms? How about some snow melting for the driveway? Would the Sarjeants be installing an outdoor hot tub or swimming pool? What would they use for domestic hot water? A rental, or own an indirect hot water tank that would efficiently supply almost unlimited hot water for the family? How many zones would they design into the system? Sarjeant discussed these items with his wife Sally and together they picked what they wanted from their "wish list".

Sarjeant then went to work selecting a qualified hydronic professional. Due to his construction experience, he selected an installer that he could work closely with during the various phases of the project, from tubing layout, to testing, floor by floor. Pictures were taken during each phase of the project. After the basement slab was poured, the boiler was installed into place. Piping and controls were added. The system was fully tested and started.

The end result?

The Sarjeant's are very proud of their home. There is a "massive" area of limestone on the first floor, trimmed with a rich cherry hardwood floor. The entrance way is spectacular. Even better, when visitors come in and remove their shoes they get a "very warm welcome indeed".

The Sarjeant's agree, "The warm floors are glorious, we love it. There are no drafts, the heat is very even and quiet. We are glad we zoned our system, which allows us to set the temperature a little warmer in the bathrooms and slightly cooler in the bedrooms."

Sarjeant used his experience to ensure his finished floors lined up perfectly, with no raised curbs or steps when his floors changed from hardwood to tile to carpet. Furniture can go anywhere. The house is warm and quiet.

A downside? "No regrets at all" says Sarjeant, "except that Sally is disappointed when the floor heating is off, she wishes it could be on all year long".

Even Heat, Warm Floors and Warm Towels

After living in a hydronic-heated home for many years, Alexandria DeBellis knew she wanted to convert her new home's heating system from forced-air to radiant heat before she and her husband moved in.

Durable underfloor tubing was installed in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and mudroom, providing hidden heating and comfortable floors. Sleek European-style radiant wall panels were also installed throughout the rest of the home.

After her first heating season, Alexandria says she has enjoyed many aspects of her hydronic-heated home.

"High efficiency, cost savings, warm floors, warm towels - I really enjoy the comfort of hydronic heat," says Alexandria. "And without the ductwork, I don't have to dust as often.