Montrealers phasing out oil heat can turn to eco-friendly floor heating

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The city of Montreal has announced its plans to phase out oil heating, starting from municipally-owned buildings and then in privately-owned buildings throughout the municipality.

The move is part of the city’s plans to reduce greenhouse gases and ensure that the city is carbon-neutral as swiftly as possible.

Mayor Valerie Plante confirmed early May that the city of Montreal will now pass a law that would shut down every oil furnace in the city by 2030.

Also, in the newly constructed buildings throughout Montreal, oil furnaces would be banned.

"Since our ambition to decarbonize Montreal's real estate stock is important, a collective effort is required," said Plante in a report. “As a result, we will encourage all Montrealers to make the transition to a heating system other than oil.”

According to Plante, the city of Montreal will spend an estimated $4 million to replace all the existing oil furnaces in municipally-owned buildings in the next two years, by 2021.

However, industrial and commercial owners will be given until 2025 to carry out the same task, while residential owners have until 2030.

While the replacements for these oil furnaces could be natural gas systems, but the city of Montreal plans to place a similar ban on them by 2050.

“To better support homeowners in this transition, we might even be able to compensate differently in the near future but we're looking at all these options. But there are already options. Financial incentives exist,” said Plante.

Nonetheless, the provincial government already has several existing programs to help oil furnace owners switch to a much cleaner source of energy.For example, having heated floors in Montreal would be a more eco-friendly option.

The concept of under-floor(radiant) heating involves heat transfer via infrared radiation and convection by underlaying the floor of a room with a hot element or tubing—preventing the need for blowing or forced air. This is the most popular and cost-effective radiant heating systems for heating-dominated climates.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant heating has a lot more advantages over other types of heat distribution, making it a suitable option for Montrealers.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant heating is also a perfect choice for those with severe allergies as there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room.Additionally, itismore energy efficient.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

Additionally, RESNet noted that on average,about 15 percent more heat is being transmitted by more efficiently than conventional radiators.

There are two main types of radiant heating: electric and hydronic. According to TLC Network’s Green Living Guide, the former entails installing heated wires in the floor that radiate heat upward.

This is the most commonly used type of radiant heat to retrofit a single room—especially a bathroom or kitchen—in either an old house or building. Meanwhile, for hydronic radiant heating, it is more often designed into a new structure from duringconstruction—and is the more energy efficient option.

In Montreal about three decades ago, almost one in five dwellings in the city relied on heating oil, but currently,that number has decreased to just six per cent.

Though, heating oil is the source of 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from residences, and 14 percent of commercial and industrial buildings, within the boundaries of Montreal.

“Heating oil is just like coal, it's on its way out,” said Karel Mayrand of the David Suzuki Foundation.