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Brokerage, Independently Owned and Operated


Barb Reynolds
Jenn Reynolds
Sales Representative

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Heating Sources for Rural Homes

Living in an area that is not serviced by municipal/ city utilities just means you have to find alternatives!  Heat, Hydro and Water hookups are things that city dwellers take for granted, whereas in rural areas you may not have as many choices for your heat or water.  

Heating Alternatives - Good...Better...Best?

The common misconception about heat is that everyone uses forced air natural gas. But even many city dwellers do not use natural gas as their means of heating their homes, especially in older neighbourhoods.  The best heating alternative for your rural home is going to be that which is most practical for you, the homeowner.  This means the best economical use of a readily (and consistently) available fuel type, combined with the most efficient heating system.  Here are some of the more common heating fuels and systems being used around Ottawa.

Fuel Types

Natural Gas- the best choice for a forced air system, and most common heating fuel in Ontario.  In urban areas, natural gas is a clean and economical fuel.  In rural areas, natural gas is only an option if lines currently exist on or adjacent to the property.  The gas company will allow for a certain # of feet of gas line free and then the home owner pays for the rest of the lines to come up to the house. Many times on a rural lot, you will be paying the extra amount due to having a longer driveway.  As a side note, there are a few houseplants that just do not seem to like natural gas.

Oil is delivered by a fuel company. You can arrange for them to deliver on a regular basis (which will save you from shivering on Christmas morning because you have run out of oil) or you can simply call them when you know you are getting low.  Oil tanks are most often in the basement and many times now in a separate room. Make sure if you are buying a home with an oil tank to ask if there are any known underground tanks. It can be very costly to remove them due to the environmental guidelines that must be followed. 
There are strict governmental regulations on oil tanks themselves now. As of 2002, fuel suppliers can not supply fuel to any tank that is not registered with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).  Insurance companies are also refusing to insure properties with older tanks.  So if you are purchasing a home with an oil tank, check on its age and certification.  It can be very costly to clean up an oil spill, and there are different levels of environmental cleanups.  The presence of underground oil tanks, whether in use currently or not must be disclosed.  Oil is slightly less costly than propane.  One of the drawbacks with oil heat is that sometimes an odor is detected wherever the tank is stored, especially with older tanks.  People often find that the house is dustier with oil heating.

Propane is like the gas that you use in the barbeque. Normally you would rent one or several tanks that would sit outside your home.  Just like oil, the gas company can come on an as-needed or regular basis.  Be sure to clean around the furnace fairly often, as spiders seem to like the smell of propane!

Electricity - modern high-efficiency electric forced air furnaces are becoming more common in Ontario, but are still less economical to operate than their natural gas counterparts.

Biomass is a more common fuel source than you may realize.  Biomass is any organic material that can be used to generate heat or electricity.  Common sources include firewood, wood pellets, corn husks and straw.


Heating Systems

The Forced Air Furnace is common in most houses. The heat source can come from oil, propane, electricity or natural gas. With any forced air system, you can install central air conditioning. 

A typical forced air gas furnace

Electric Baseboard heating is probably one of the easiest ways to heat. It’s easy to install and maintain. It is, though, one of the more costly ways to heat. If you have older baseboards, it may be a good idea to look into replacing them with newer, more efficient ones, which will save you money. The two biggest drawbacks to heating with baseboards are (1) the cost to operate and (2) no central air conditioning! You must have window units, portable units or ceiling/ wall mounted ones.

Heat Pumps are an economical way of heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. With a heat pump you can have a forced air system, and since it is all one unit you do not need to buy a separate central air conditioning unit.  Heat pumps can be gas fed, or electric or geothermal (ground source). 

Geothermal or Ground-source Systems where heat is extracted from the ground are becoming increasingly popular. The greatest advantage to geothermal is that temperatures are more regulated in the system, therefore having a natural heating effect in the winter and cooling effect during the summer.  Geothermal systems are the most expensive to install, have less operating costs and greater efficiency of almost all other systems. You should be able to see a return on your money within 3-10 years, and the in-ground portion can last many decades. 

Boilers are an older way of heating that has become a bit more popular in the last few years. Boilers are very reliable and like workhorses, rarely break down, They can last much longer than a furnace. The heat is distributed through radiators. 


Fireplaces and Stoves - We’ve seen many homes that have been heated primarily with fireplaces and stoves. Many of them have been gas fed, and by using sensors in remotes, come on regularly so the temperature is maintained. Wood burning stoves and fireplaces with fans are also quite common. Make sure if using this kind of heat to burn hot so as not to build up creosote and have a WETT fireplace & chimney inspection done every few years.  Pellet stoves which consume wood pellets or agriculture residue pellets are used as well, though less common. 

Fireplaces and stoves are used for both primary and supplemental heat.

Radiant Heat uses the same concept as sunshine. Most of the radiant heating we see in in-floor heating, which surprisingly enough does cozy up a room! There is some controversy as to whether or not to use one or two hot water tanks (one for domestic, one for the heat), so be sure to do some research into that before committing. The other radiant heat gaining in popularity is solar heat.

Solar Heating uses the sun’s light both actively and passively. Solar panels can be used for heating homes, powering appliances and equipment, or simply for heating hot water tanks or swimming pools. It does not pollute or contribute to climate change, and helps to conserve fossil fuels. It can be used as a complete alternative to using hydro and other heat sources. Many times it will be combined with a ground source system to form a geo-solar system for heating and cooling, which is practically the most energy efficient technology available.

A solar farm


Many times there are grants and rebates given for increasing the energy efficiency within your home- for things like upgrading furnaces and air conditioners or using solar energy. Be sure to check the city of Ottawa website ( as well as the Government of Ontario site  ( as the rebates can change without notice.


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