What Does ‘Home Comfort’ Actually Mean?

Home comfort is important to your overall happiness and health—both physical and financial. Creating the ideal indoor environment includes several factors: air temperature, humidity and air quality. Read on to learn how these elements work together to optimize your home’s comfort level.


Heating and Cooling

The average homeowner spends a lot of money on household energy, especially to heat and cool our homes. How much you spend depends on where you live, and the length of the heating or cooling season. The forms of energy used to deliver ideal home temperatures also matter.

According to Stats Canada, natural gas is used by almost half of Canadian households, electricity is used by one-third, while wood is used by only 4%. However, wood used in wood stoves or fireplaces are often a secondary source, and more for the cozy ambience they create.

Ideal Temperatures

During the heating season when occupants are home and awake, temperatures should fall in the range between 20 to 22 degrees Celsius. When household members are asleep or away, between 16 to 18 degrees Celsius is recommended. Your home should be somewhat warmer for seniors and infants. Ensuring optimal night-time temperatures will allow you to get a better night’s sleep, as well as save on energy costs.


For energy savings in makes sense to regulate the temperature using a wall thermostat. Most thermostats include settings for daily and weekly programs. The newest generation of thermostats are the “smart thermostats”, that can be easily controlled from anywhere, using your iPhone, smartphone, or tablet.



The level of humidity in the air can affect your home comfort, as well as the proper functioning of your heating or air conditioning unit. If humidity is an issue with your home’s air quality, then you may want to consider a humidifier or dehumidifier. In the winter months, it’s essential to add moisture, while it is more important to have drier air in the summer.

Air Quality

Indoor air quality is important to protect the health of household members. Air pollutants can include mould, fungi, bacteria, house dust mites, pollen, and spores. Air contaminants come in the form of vapours, gases, and particles. You can protect your home’s air quality by taking various measures:

Air Ventilation and Circulation

One of the easiest ways is to use your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. You can do this by setting your system to the “fan only” option. This option will move interior air and pass it through your filter system.

Ceiling Fans

Not only are ceiling fans attractive, they also serve a function by moving air around the room.

Exhaust Fans and Vents

Ventilation is especially important in the kitchen and the bathroom. Exhaust fans draw moist air outward and remove contaminants from the air. Make sure that your stove, dryer, and bathroom exhaust fans vent outside. Your home will also have exhaust vents in the attic which help warm air flow out from the roof.

Duct Cleaning

Having your home’s ductwork professionally cleaned will also protect your health and energy consumption costs. A lot of nasty stuff can collect in your ductwork, such as dust, cobwebs, fungus and even mould. With all this debris piled up, your furnace has to work harder to filter and push clean air throughout your home.

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Protect yourself and your family by installing at lest one carbon monoxide (CO) detector, and smoke detectors outside each bedroom, and sleeping area, and on each level of your home, including the basement.

Looking to learn more about the importance of home comfort and how we can help you achieve this? Contact us today for a free quote!

Why Is My Heating Bill So Much Higher This Winter?

Many of the factors behind home energy costs in Ontario are beyond our control. Natural gas and electricity are commodities, after all, and the rates change quarterly with supply and demand. That said, if you’ve found your heating bills unexpectedly high this winter, the problem could be closer to home.

A sharp increase in the cost of heating your home is often a sign that part of your heating system isn’t working as intended. Your heating bill could also be higher because your house isn’t keeping the warmth in as well as it used to (which means you’ll have the opposite problem come summer!)

If you can’t trace the increase to rising energy prices, and your heating demand hasn’t changed since last year, it’s time to look at other potential causes.

Your Heating System Isn’t Operating at Peak Performance

When you notice your heating bill’s higher than usual this year, the first question to ask is this:

How long as it been since your last furnace tune-up?

If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t think much about the inner workings of your home’s heating system. It either works, or it doesn’t. But there’s a lot going on beneath the surface: pipes, safety switches, venting, flame sensors and other components that work in tandem to produce a safe, steady supply of heat.

In that way, it’s not so different from your vehicle.

Even a top-performance sports car can only go so far before it needs a tune-up. If you find that a tank of gas isn’t taking your vehicle as far as it used to – that your car is suddenly less fuel-efficient – you know that it’s time to look under the hood.

The same goes for your forced air heating system. If part of the system isn’t functioning correctly, or an aging system hasn’t been properly maintained, it will lose its efficiency over time. And a sudden rise in your heating bills could be a warning sign for furnace issues.


Warm Air is Escaping from Your Home

You might picture your house as a well-wrapped, tightly-sealed box. Truth is, there are numerous points throughout the home’s envelope that could allow air to leak through, and these gaps can contribute to rising energy bills.

Windows and doors are common culprits for heat loss. A single pane of glass can lose almost ten times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall – and it will lose even more if the frame isn’t properly sealed.

Other common leak sites include fireplace dampers, attic hatches, dryer vents, electrical outlets, and mail slots. According to ENERGY STAR, if you added up all the small gaps throughout a typical home’s envelope, it would equal the impact of leaving a window a wide-open all winter.

That’s a lot of wasted heat.

If your heating bill seems unusually high this year, and your home’s envelope has changed since last winter (you constructed a new wall or installed a new set of windows, for instance), you could be dealing with a substantial air leak.

Time for a Furnace Tune-Up

If your heating bill is higher than usual this year, it’s probably time for a tune-up.

Here in Ontario, heating accounts for two-thirds of the average’s family’s energy costs. Don’t let your equipment drive those costs even higher.

Investing in preventative furnace maintenance is the single best way to keep your system running efficiently. Learn more about what a professional furnace tune-up and safety check should include, or book your tune-up in the Greater Toronto Area today.

6 Ways to Make Your House Warmer Without Touching the Thermostat

We all know about the thermostat war – dad refuses to let anyone touch the thermostat. Children want the heat higher, so they can wear shorts inside during winter. No one wins. Although there may have to be compromise – probably on the shorts, we can help with a few ways to make your house feel warmer without touching that thermostat dial.

1. Warm, Fluffy Rugs

This seems like a well-known tip, but it makes a big difference when it comes to personal warmth.

If you have hardwood or laminate flooring, the one downfall is it isn’t exactly cozy. As we lose heat from our feet and our heads, it makes sense to have a warm foundation. To avoid losing body heat, throw a large, furry area run in your living spaces and reap the warmth.

2. Reverse Ceiling Fan Direction

A great tool to help heat up your home in the winter is right above your head – the ceiling fan.

Most people only use ceiling fans for the summer but if you change the direction of the blades, it’s now useful for the winter.

During the summer, your blades rotate counter-clockwise, pushing the air downward and cool air into the room. According to Lumens, if you change the fan direction to clockwise, the updraft will push any warm air lingering around the ceiling down into the room. The trick is to set the fan at a low speed to make this work effectively.

This is a simple change that will make your space feel warmer and, quite possibly, be worthy of turning your thermostat down a degree.

3. Furnace Maintenance

If you’re a home owner, this question has probably crossed your mind: do I need to service my furnace every year? If you would like your furnace to run more efficiently, the answer is yes.

Annual furnace maintenance can identify any issues before it’s too late. That way your furnace can be prepared for winter with the comfort of knowing you won’t lose heat this winter. On top of that, a regularly maintained furnace can help with lower utility bills by 5-40%.

4. Heavy Curtains

To avoid cold temperatures transferring through the glass, cover up your blinds with some thick drapes. Doing so will help insulate the room and minimize the exchange of cold air to keep your room feeling cozy.

Another bonus with heavy drapes is you won’t have to move your furniture away from the windows. This way the cold window issue is solved without moving around your established living space.

5. Roof Insulation

Did you know that your heating bill goes through the roof – literally.

You can lose up to 25% of heat through your roof. The time invested into installing insulation in your attic/loft may shave a lot of money off your heating bill without even touching the thermostat.

Loft insulation can be effective for up to 40 years, so the investment is worth it. If you are doing this, have a look at what your space below the loft is and find the best suited insulating option to determine whether you can do it yourself. If you are tackling this, make sure you insulate any gable walls, party walls, or chimneys or your effort will be wasted.

6. Weather Proofing Windows and Doors

This is an easy fix you can do yourself that can squash those drafts you may be feeling.

For less cool air from your windows, plastic film insulation is an excellent, nearly invisible option – especially if you’d rather not change your curtains. Feeling some cool air through your door? Replacing the door sweep at the bottom can be a quick, effective fix. Want a solution for both windows and doors? Weatherstrip foam tape is an easy option – all you need is scissors.

Enjoy That Utility Bill

Now that you have a few tips to help you keep the thermostat nice and low, you can reap the rewards. After stocking up on rugs, looking into types of fluff insulation, or furnace maintenance companies, your home should be all set!

If you’re due for furnace maintenance, contact AtlasCare to get you prepped sooner and give you peace of mind for the cold months ahead.

10 Clever Ways To Keep Warm When Your Furnace Breaks Down

As the months get colder, the need for warmth rises. But what happens if your furnace breaks down? Before you can get it fixed, are you just expected to deal with the cold?

No, you are not! Thankfully, there are many ways to keep warm even without a furnace. Run down this list of ten clever ways to stay cozy if your furnace breaks down – and if your HVAC company doesn’t promise a 4-hour emergency service like us, keep these tips handy!

Leave the Oven Open

Cooking dinner or baking a delicious dessert? When you have finished, turn off the oven, but leave the door open. The heat you used to cook your food will stick around for a little while longer, so why not let it filter out of the oven and into the rest of your kitchen?

Close Unused Rooms

Do you have a storage room or unused guest space in your home? Close the vents in those rooms and keep the doors closed as much as possible. The more space you have, the harder it will be to heat your home (and maintain this heat) when the months get cold, especially without a working furnace. Making the space small even in simple ways like shutting doors of unused rooms can go a long way. Remember to also close the vents in those rooms, forcing the hot air into areas you want heated.

Layer on Layers

Of course, the old standby is to bundle up and add layers to your wardrobe to keep warm. Pull on a sweatshirt or sweater, wear a long sleeve shirt as well as an undershirt, thicker socks, et cetera. The more layers you wear, the more insulated you become.

Lay Down Area Rugs

If your home is full of tiles or hardwood floors, you are going to need some plush area rugs to help warm your space if the furnace breaks down. Area rugs work to help keep the heat from escaping your floorboards. In addition, they are much warmer to walk on than bare floors.

Start Moving

Staying still forces your body heat to leave you faster. Keep your core temperature up by exercising or just moving around a little. Your body will heat as a result and you will definitely thank yourself for that cozy feeling. Make this even more effective by raising your body temperature through movement, and then layering up so the heat cannot escape as easily.

Do Laundry

Yes, doing a chore like laundry can help you keep warm. Specifically, you should try doing your bedsheets just before you go to sleep one night, since the residual heat will help heat your body in turn. You can also try putting a sweatshirt in the laundry before pulling it on over your head.

Fill a Hot Water Bottle

Need warmth when you sleep? Fill up a hot water bottle or two and keep it under the covers wherever you need the warmth the most. The heat will eventually cover the whole area, but the highest concentration will be wherever you put the hot water bottle.

Drink a Hot Beverage

Drinking a hot beverage like hot chocolate, tea, or coffee can really help warm you up inside. Just pour your favourite coffee or teaand bask in the comfort and warmth. Keep the hot chocolate coming if you want to keep warm for an extended period.

Cover the Cracks

The cracks under doors, around the windows, and anywhere else in or around your home can make the heat drop dramatically. Thus, try putting a towel down to cover the cracks under the doors for various rooms in your home. Caulk your windows to help keep the heat sealed inside.

Snuggle in Sheets

Want to be warmer at night? Invest in higher quality bedsheets! Instead of a light cotton you might put on in the summer, try flannel or fleece when it’s cold outside. Snuggle up underneath the sheets and stay toasty warm as you sleep.

Geek Alert! 5 Cool Things About Home Heating You May Not Know

Sometimes, we take for granted just how big a role heating technology plays in our lives. At this time of year, just about every building in the country has a furnace working behind the scenes to keep its inhabitants comfortable. There’s a good chance you’re enjoying the benefits of home heating right now!

Here are some furnace facts and cool things about home heating you may not know.

1. 40% of our energy goes towards heating

Given our climate, it’s no surprise that Canadians use a lot of energy on heat. However, when you consider all the other ways we use energy, fuelling our vehicles, lighting our homes and offices, and powering our industries, to name just a few, it’s amazing to think that more than 40% of all energy produced in Canada goes toward heating.

2. Only half of Canadians use natural gas

Most residents here in Ontario (about 72%) use natural gas to heat their homes. Natural gas is safe and efficient, and though we often cringe at our monthly gas bill, it’s still the most affordable heat source in this province.

However, not everyone in Canada has access to natural gas. Only 49% of Canadian households use natural gas heating, while 37% use electricity and 8% use fuel oil. In the neighbouring province of Quebec, just 3% of homes use natural gas, while 80% rely on electricity. Meanwhile, the Maritimes mainly use fuel oil to warm their homes.

3. Central heating is thousands of years old

Home heating has come a long way. From campfires to stoves, steam engines to radiators, heat pumps to smart thermostats, the technology has evolved in leaps and bounds over thousands of years.

Today, most homes use a central heating system, which generates heat in a single location and distributes it throughout the home using ducts or radiators. But central heating isn’t a new concept. In fact, beginning in the year 80 BCE, the upper classes of ancient Rome widely used central heating in their homes, villas, and public baths. The Roman method, called a hypocaust, used a large fire or furnace in an open space below the floor to heat the air, which moved through passages beneath the floors and walls to heat the entire home.

4. Opening the door doesn’t let all the heat out

It’s a refrain familiar to kids across Canada: close the door, you’re letting the heat out!

But is it true?

Leaving doors and windows open will result in some air leakage, but the real problem is not warm air escaping; it’s the frigid, winter air getting in. As heated air rises to the top of a building, cooler air rushes in to replace it. The greater the difference between the inside and outside temperature, the more an open door will change the indoor temperature.

5. Replacing the furnace can cut heating costs by up to 25%

Today’s top-performance furnaces come equipped with a variable speed ECM motor, which is designed to operate at varying output levels depending on the outdoor temperature. On the coldest days of the year, when the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures is greatest, a high-efficiency furnace can perform at a higher BTU output to meet the demand. When the temperature drops, it can scale back on energy, reducing heating costs by up to 25%!

Considering heating accounts for 40% of our energy use, 25% can go a long way in reducing heating costs.

Image: OKsix

What Everyone Should Know About Renting a Furnace in Ontario

When we ask our customers why they decided to rent a furnace, they usually reply with one of two answers:

  1. The low monthly cost of renting a furnace seemed more affordable than buying one up front.
  2. Since the rental cost covered any potential repairs, renting a furnace gave them cost certainty and peace of mind.

Put in those terms, it’s easy to see why so many homeowners in Ontario choose to rent their furnace instead of buying. Cost and peace of mind are top-of-mind when it comes to any home investment, especially when one that involves your family’s safety and comfort in our cold winter months.

For homeowners who cannot afford to purchase a new furnace (or who plan to move), it feels like a way to give their family top-of-the-line comfort without the cost or commitment.

However, those same reasons are exactly why we advise everyone – whether they’re an AtlasCare customer or not – to think twice about renting a furnace in Ontario.

It’s not to say that buying a furnace is always the better choice. Every family’s circumstances are different, and there may be situations where renting a furnace for your home makes the most sense in the long run.

But we do believe that anyone thinking of renting a furnace should know exactly what the decision will mean for them.

We encourage you to take these things into consideration before you sign a furnace rental contract.

1. Renting a Furnace Rarely Saves Money

Furnaces aren’t cheap.

Though it might not look it on the outside, a furnace is an intricate piece of equipment – and they’re only becoming more complex as smart home and energy management technology continues to advance.

Families looking to upgrade to the latest in energy-efficient heating systems can expect to pay an initial sum well into four figures. For top-of-the-line custom comfort solutions, the costs can run even higher.

Compare that to the monthly cost of renting a furnace in Ontario (approximately $175 to $250, depending on the deal) and the rental option looks far more affordable. Plus, rental contracts often cover the cost of a maintenance call, meaning no surprise repair bills.

But when you consider that furnace rental contracts usually last for 12 to 15 years – and that the monthly cost remains constant – renting a furnace could end up costing thousands more than buying a furnace outright.

Consider what happens when one homeowner purchases an energy-efficient furnace for $5,000 while another signs a contract to rent the furnace for $175 a month. The renter pays less in the first two years, paying $2100 in year one and $4,200 by year two.

If the homeowner who rented a furnace sells their home (and escapes the contract) in year two, they can come out on top (assuming rental costs don’t increase, which they do on average 3.5% every year.) But if the renter remains in the contract by the middle of year three, the renter and purchaser are even – and at the end of that year, the renter is down by $1200.

By the end of the 10-year contract, the renter has paid more than twice what the purchaser did for the same piece of equipment and still doesn’t own a furnace unless they pay an additional buyout cost. That, combined with interest rates of 18-22% on the term of the contact, make renting a furnace for more expensive than buying one in the long run.

2. Renting is Not the Same as Rent-to-Own

Most of the furnace rental contracts out there are just that – rentals. The homeowner pays a monthly fee to use the equipment in their house, but the furnace remains property of the rental company.

In other words, the monthly rental fee doesn’t go towards paying off the furnace.

At the end of the contract, the homeowner is typically left with three choices:

  1. Renew the lease agreement and reset the clock on the contract;
  2. Pay an additional buyout fee to purchase the furnace; or
  3. Pay a removal fee to get the furnace out of the house.

Considering many people who rent a furnace do so with the intention of saving money, none of these outcomes are favourable. 

3. Renting a Furnace Removes the Choice of Service Provider

One of the perceived benefits of renting a furnace in Ontario is that it often comes with cost certainty as to repairs and maintenance. Ideally, this would mean that if your furnace ever breaks down, the rental company (or another service company they’ve agreed to work with) will be there to help.

But what happens if all their service technicians are fully booked, and they cannot respond for days or their office is closed for the holidays?

Your first instinct might be to fire up a Google Search for another emergency furnace service provider – not realizing that the rental contract prohibits you from using another service company.

If another contractor so much as touches the equipment, it could have consequences. 

4. Renting a Furnace Makes it Harder to Sell Your Home

We mentioned in the example above that a homeowner who sells their home within the first few years of a furnace rental contract could come out on top in terms of costs.

Unfortunately, there’s a catch.

Savvy realtors are increasingly advising their clients against accepting the seller’s furnace rental contract when they purchase a home.

With the housing market cooling off, more and more buyers are insisting that sellers buy out of the rental contract as a condition of the sale. Essentially, renting a furnace decreases the value of your home – or at least makes it harder to sell. It takes what should be a four-figure asset and turns it into a potential liability.

First-time home buyers are especially vulnerable to this trap, since they’re most likely to move within the duration of the rental contract. 

5. Renting a Furnace Can Impact Your Home Equity

Suppose that you have the sudden need to make extensive renovations on your home. Many homeowners in the Greater Toronto Area found themselves in this situation after their homes were damaged by floods in 2017, for example.

One possible recourse in these circumstances is to borrow against your home equity. But what if you discover that your equity is $8,500 more than you thought it was – all because of a furnace rental?

That’s what happened to one homeowner who tried to get a second mortgage after signing a lease with a major furnace company.

Many homeowners don’t realize how renting a furnace can impact their home equity. Rental contracts often register a lien or another form of interest (like a notice or lease of chattel) against the homeowner’s property to protect the company’s interest. It’s a big price to pay for short-term cost certainty.

Why Are Furnace Rentals So Common in Ontario?

In this post, we’ve discussed many of the ways we feel that homeowners end up on the losing end of a furnace rental contract. We also mentioned two of the main reasons why people sign onto these contracts: affordability and peace of mind.

However, there is one other reason why leasing furnaces and other home comfort equipment has become commonplace. Many newly-built homes are sold with these leases from day one.

So, if renting a furnace comes with so many pitfalls, why do so many new home builds come with a lease?

The answer is simple: it allows home builders to reduce the costs of building a home without having to reduce the asking price. Buyers don’t feel like they’re being sold a house without a furnace, and builders don’t have to invest in installing one outright.

These kinds of details are often overlooked in the fever of a housing market boom. Unfortunately, they can also trap buyers in an unfavourable position when it comes to their home’s most important equipment.

Alternatives to Renting a Furnace in Ontario

At AtlasCare, we believe it’s always important to own your own home comfort assets. It adds equity to your home, saves money in the long run, and allows the freedom to choose who services your equipment.

Still, we acknowledge that a furnace is a major purchase, and not everyone can afford to purchase new equipment outright.

That’s why we offer a number of finance options for furnace installation. Unlike rental contracts, financing agreements don’t lock homeowners in to an excessive 12 to 15-year term with an expensive buyout.

We also endorse the SNAP Home Finance program, which provides a line of credit to finance heating, cooling and ventilation equipment upgrades. AtlasCare has worked with SNAP customers for years and found it to be an efficient, consumer-friendly program.

If you’re not sure which route is right for your family, we’re always happy to sit down and help you explore the options. Call us at 647-952-2012 or contact us any time online.

5 Things To Do Before Turning On The Furnace This Winter

Natural gas furnaces are commonplace here in the Greater Toronto Area. With proper care and maintenance, these heating systems are clean, efficient, and perfectly safe. Regardless, there are steps you should take now to ensure your family is safe and warm when the temperature falls.

Here are 5 things we recommend you do before turning on the furnace this winter.

Furnace Safety Checklist

Planning to fire up the furnace soon? Be sure to take these steps before you do:

  1. Replace or clean the furnace filter.
  2. Clean and tidy the area around the furnace.
  3. Open the registers and move any obstructions.
  4. Test your carbon monoxide detector.
  5. Set the thermostat.

We’ll expand on each of these points below.

We also recommend having your gas furnace serviced annually. Along with ensuring safety and efficiency, preventative furnace maintenance is key to preventing costly furnace repairs.

1. Replace or Clean the Furnace Filter

When the furnace draws air from your home, it also pulls in the tiny particles that populate the air: specks of dust, pet dander, pollen, and other airborne allergens. That’s why gas furnaces are equipped with a mechanical air filter. The filter traps particles and takes them out of circulation.

It doesn’t take long for the filter to fill up with dirt and debris; one look at this photo of a furnace filter after three months will tell you. If the filter is not replaced after three months (or cleaned, in the case of an aluminium or plastic mesh) it begins to cut the air flow and reduce the furnace’s efficiency.

Start fresh with a clean filter before turning on the furnace this winter.

2. Clean and Tidy the Area Around the Furnace

It happens that furnaces tend to be installed in parts of our homes that are prone to accumulate clutter.

It’s not unusual for our technicians to find the furnace crowded by boxes, suitcases and laundry bins while on a call for furnace repair in Toronto and the GTA. All that clutter makes it harder to perform necessary maintenance.

In many cases, clutter is also a safety issue. Objects hanging near the furnace or leaning against it can reduce airflow. Cleaning products stored nearby can emit fumes that get drawn in and circulated throughout the home. Combustibles like paint or varnish are a serious fire hazard.

Before you turn on the furnace, make sure it has enough breathing room. Check the manual or ask your service technician how much clearance the system requires.

3. Open the Registers and Remove Obstructions

Take a walk through each room in your house to ensure the vents are open and nothing is blocking the flow of air. Common culprits for airflow obstructions include curtains, furniture, rugs, and clothing (especially if your kids are prone to miss the laundry hamper).

Simple as it is, this step is important in ensuring your system can distribute heat evenly and operate efficiently.

4. Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless by-product of gas-fired appliances like furnaces and water heaters. A properly-installed and well-maintained furnace produces minimal CO and vents it safely outside the home.

Although the risk is small, it’s vital to ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are ready to warn you in the event of a leak. Some fire officials also recommend using a backup plug-in unit in addition to the ones permanently installed in your home.

If you’re not sure how to test your carbon monoxide alarms, or are unsure where to find them, contact your local Fire Department.

5. Set the Thermostat

Heating accounts for a whopping 62% of the average Canadian’s energy costs. One of the simplest and most powerful ways to reduce that cost is to turn down the heat when you don’t need it.

Most homes now have a programmable thermostat that can adjust the temperature automatically at set intervals; many now have a smart Wi-Fi thermostat that enables even greater control. In either case, lowering the temperature a few degrees for just a few hours a day can cut your energy use by 8% or more.

Worried about frozen water pipes? Keep the indoor temperature above 13°C.

Have You Had Your Furnace Serviced?

Some furnace problems are harder to spot than others. A bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way in preventing those minor issues from becoming a major headache down the road. That’s why we recommend having your furnace serviced annually.

Furnace breakdowns are not only inconvenient; if you don’t have an annual service plan, they can be expensive as well. Major repairs are the last thing you need on mind in the busy holiday season.

A neglected furnace can also put your family at considerable risk. Poorly-maintained piping and wear-and-tear increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide leaks.

AtlasCare is always there for furnace service and maintenance throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Call us or leave us a message to inquire about having your furnace serviced today. We’ll get in touch as soon as we can.

10 No-Nonsense Ways to Reduce Heating Costs in Ontario

Another Thanksgiving Day is now behind us and that means another Ontario winter is on the horizon. It’s time to start thinking about how we will keep our homes warm for the winter without busting our budget. Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do to effectively accomplish that goal.

  1. Turn Your Thermostat Down

You may have flashbacks from growing up about a parent obsessing over who can touch the thermostat, but the fact is that setting your thermostat to a lower temperature saves energy.

Bundle up a bit more or use an extra blanket. Heating your home to a lower temperature is one of the top ways to save energy.

  1. Use a Smart or Programmable Thermostat

If you have not yet upgraded to a smart or programmable thermostat, now is the time to do so. Both of these options make environmental control of your home a snap, allowing for precise control of temperature at any time of the day.

With a smart thermostat, you don’t even have to be present. Simply make adjustments using your computer or smart phone.

  1. Switch from Electric to Gas

An electrically heated house (baseboard heaters) tends to cost more than gas furnaces for the same amount of heating. Talk to your local natural gas supplier about converting your house over to that system. The upfront cost of that investment might seem a bit intimidating, but when you do the math, it will become clear just how much money you can save and how quickly that new furnace will pay itself off.

  1. Replace/Fix Damaged Seams

Drafts can come from all over your home, so inspect the exterior from top to bottom. You should address what needs to be replaced (e.g. leaky or broken windows, damaged vents), and seal up any holes or cracks with insulating sealants. Be thorough: if cold air can find a way in, it is going to cost you money.

  1. Seal Your Windows

Once you have finished your inspection of the outside, take a close look at your windows. Even if you have sealed up the cracks, it is sometimes still possible for air to get in. You can reduce that leakage to almost nothing by sealing up the windows with plastic film.

  1. Keep Doors and Windows Closed

Coming off of a nice summer and an especially warm fall, it is important that your family quickly get out of the habit of leaving the windows and doors open. Also, make sure that there is no clutter at entry points that can block a tight seal. Note that locked windows seal tighter, so make sure that all the ones that can open are properly secured.

  1. Adjust Door Thresholds

Another part of your draft eradication project is to make sure that no air is leaking in under the doors. Even if you can’t feel a draft, turn off the lights in the room, lie on your side, and see whether any daylight is visible under the door; if there is light, you’ve got a leak.

You can easily fix this by checking the door thresholds. Some are adaptable; if yours are, simply adjust the screws and raise them up until you can’t see any light coming through.

  1. Close Vents and Doors to Unused Rooms

We use some rooms in a home more often than others. There is no reason to heat those other rooms as much as high traffic areas, such as the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Keep vents and doors closed to seal in what little heat those other areas require.

  1. Use the Sun

The sun is a natural heat source that is a home comfort nemesis during the summer, but can be a free ally when the year is coldest. Simply keep your blinds open during the day and closed at night.

  1. Use Portable Heaters

If there are areas in your home that you only use on occasion and for limited amounts of time, portable heaters can be a cost-effective choice as they only heat the room you’re in. Keep the heat off in these rooms the rest of the time.

What You Should Know Before Buying a Boiler

Late winter or early spring is a perfect time to upgrade your home heating system! The cold weather is fresh on your mind, and since there’s no rush, you can take your time to decide which unit is best for you.

If your old boiler is on its last legs, now’s the time to replace it.

Boilers don’t look like much on the outside, but there’s a lot to think about when buying one. Which size of boiler is best? Should you get a condensing or non-condensing boiler? These are the facts you should know before buying a boiler.

How A Boiler Works

A boiler uses hot water to maintain the temperature in a home through radiators. The boiler’s heating element warms the water and then distributes it to radiators throughout the home. Some models can heat  your home and hot water.

There are electric, natural gas, propane, and oil boilers available. A natural gas boiler is the best option in terms of efficiency and operating cost here in Ontario.

Difference Between Condensing and Non-Condensing Boilers

Want to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint? If so, a condensing boiler is an excellent choice. Condensing boilers can operate at lower temperatures by pre-heating the water that enters the boiler using vapour produced in the heating process. A non-condensing boiler, on the other hand, vents the excess water vapour outside.

Which Size of Boiler is Best?

Size matters when it comes to buying a boiler. If the unit is too small for the house, it will have to consume more energy to keep up with the heating demand. If the boiler is too big, it will cycle on and off faster than it should and waste energy.

Many factors impact your household heating demand: the home’s foundation, the thickness of the walls, the insulation, and more. For combination boilers and water heaters, the number of occupants and bathrooms in the home matters as well.

A qualified heating and cooling technician can help you determine which size boiler is best for your home.

Boiler Energy-Efficiency

Like furnaces, all boilers sold in Canada have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating, which indicates how much energy the unit converts into usable heat. The higher the AFUE rating, the less energy the boiler wastes.

A high-efficiency condensing boiler may cost more upfront, but it can save money over time with a lower operating cost.

Comparing Boilers to Gas Furnaces

Why choose a boiler over a gas furnace? In many cases, homeowners move into homes with a boiler system already in place. Replacing an old boiler with a new one is often more affordable than replacing the whole system.

There are other benefits to buying a boiler. Having a boiler instead of a furnace means you don’t have to deal with the care and maintenance of air ducts. Boilers also increase the level of moisture in the air, which helps to prevent many of the issues caused by low humidity during the winter.

Boiler Maintenance

No matter which type of boiler you choose, it will require annual service by a technician to run at its best. Trust us — we know a lot about them. In fact, AtlasCare has been installing and servicing boilers since 1932!

We’re happy to help you decide which heating system is right for your home. In addition to routine boiler service and installation, we also offer  4-hour emergency boiler repair service.