Heating and Cooling

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Appliances to heat and cool the inside of our buildings use a substantial amount of energy.

Heating and Cooling Tips


Thermostat Temperature

Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.

Thermostat Overcompensation

When adjusting the thermostat by hand, remember that the house will not warm up or cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past the desired temperature. It’s easy to forget to turn it back down, wasting energy dollars.

Thermostat Location

Do not install the room thermostat of your central heating on a cold outer wall, next to a window, in a draughty place, or next to a heat source.

Install a Programmable Thermostat



Clean warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.

Trapped Air

Bleed trapped air from hot water radiators once or twice a season. If in doubt about how to perform this task, call a professional.


Place heat resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.



Be a fan of fans – operating an air conditioner can cost up to 25 times as much as an oscillating, box, or window fan. The fan will not change the air temperature, but you will feel cooler because of the air movement. Make sure you turn the fan off when you’re not in the room.

Use Wisely

Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely. In just 1 hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.

Central Heating Systems


Close an unoccupied room that is isolated from the rest of the house and turn down the thermostat or turn off the heating for that room or zone. However, do not turn the heating off if it adversely affects the rest of your system.

Furnace Filter

Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month. Your forced-air furnace may use an electrostatic filter, which is a metal-mesh filter in a metal frame. If so, you need to clean this monthly during the heating season, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If your filter is in a cardboard frame, it needs to be replaced monthly during the heating season. If your system doubles as a central air conditioning system, also clean or replace the filter monthly while the cooling system is in use.



Repair leaky faucets. A leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period. Install aerating low-flow faucets and shower heads.

Tank Insulation

Insulate your electric hot water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat. Wrap your hot water tank in an insulating blanket if it feels warm to the touch.


Lower the thermostat on your water heater. Water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 46 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit) provides comfortable hot water for most uses.

If you are going on vacation, turn down your water heater’s thermostat to the lowest possible setting.

Water Heater Maintenance

Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.

Shower Use

Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.

Heating and Cooling Technology

Space heating is the biggest energy use in your home and the ENERGY STAR program helps track the efficiency for many of the appliances we use for heating. We can also measure the efficiency of an appliance we use Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), having a higher AFUE means the appliance is more efficient.

Heat Recovery Ventilators


A heat recovery ventilator does four things: brings fresh air into your home, warms the air with the heat from the outgoing air, circulates it, and gets rid of stale air. Homes with effective vapour barriers save on energy but don’t get enough fresh air as a consequence, especially in the winter. An HRV only makes sense in homes with few air leaks.

Wood Pellets

Wood pellets are small cylinders of compressed sawdust or wood shavings. They are about 7mm (¼ inch) across, up to 38mm (1 ½ inches) long and contain no glues or additives.

How Are They Made?

Sawdust is dried and compressed into pellets using a die. No additives are needed since lignin, naturally present in the wood, holds the pellets together. Currently almost all the pellets made in Canada are produced from waste sawdust that would otherwise have been burnt or dumped.

Where Do They Come From?

Currently there are no pellets produced in the NWT, so most pellets sold in the NWT come from mills in Alberta and BC.

Environmental Benefits of Wood Pellets

  • Wood pellets are non-toxic so spills do not cause environmental damage
  • Wood pellets are considered carbon neutral when burned they release the same amount of carbon as the trees absorb when they grow
  • Wood pellets are a renewable source of energy.

Are Wood Pellets Popular?

Over 10,000 tonnes of pellets (equivalent to 5,000,000 litres of oil) are used in the NWT every year, and the amount is growing rapidly.

They have been used for heating in the NWT for several years and are gaining popularity because they are cheaper than heating oil, clean burning and renewable. In addition, the pellet supply options are increasing and the choice of pellet stoves, furnaces and boilers has grown.

Is the Supply of Wood Pellets Stable?

We are not likely to run out of pellets. The Canadian and world pellet markets are growing. World production was about 10 million tonnes in 2008 and Canadian production was about 2 million tonnes, from 32 pellet mills, and was expected to increase to 3 million tonnes per year by 2010. Most wood pellets produced in Canada are currently shipped to Europe; however, Canadian pellet producers are eager to develop a domestic market. Heating for all NWT communities would use about 320,000 tonnes of wood pellets per year, around 10% of Canadian production.

Burning Wood Pellets

Wood pellets can be burned in pellet stoves, boilers and furnaces. Appliances are available to heat any size building or set of buildings.

Wood pellet stoves are used to heat one room or area without being connected to a central heating system. Boilers and furnaces are connected to the central heating system and are used to heat whole houses or buildings. A wood pellet boiler can also be connected to a district heating system to heat several buildings, which is a very common approach in Europe.

Will I Save Money On Heating?

You should save money on your fuel bills if you use wood pellets. The amount depends  on  the cost of your fuel and on how much of your oil or propane you replace with pellets.

How Much Will It Cost?

Pellet stoves are generally $2000 to $3000, plus installation and additional components (such as venting, floor protection, and permits), which can cost up to as much as the stove itself depending on the complexity of the installation. Stoves are cheaper than boilers and furnaces but the annual fuel savings are lower too.

Residential boilers and furnaces cost between $7,000 and $12,000, plus installation, which can be around $5,000, but depends a lot on the complexity of the installation. When comparing costs, be sure to compare the full installed costs.

Pellet Stoves

  • Pellets cost less than oil or propane
  • Fire starts at the push of a button
  • Can be controlled automatically by thermostat
  • Automatic fuelling – no logs to add or turn
  • Fill stove with pellets every few days
  • No need to open fire box, so embers don’t fly out into room
  • Less risk of chimney fire than with logs
  • Cannot burn logs in pellet stoves
  • Needs electricity to operate
  • Maintenance such as ash removal and cleaning must be performed regularly

Pellet Boilers and Furnaces

  • Pellets cost less than oil or propane
  • Pellet appliances are more expensive than oil or propane appliances to purchase
  • Maintenance such as ash removal and cleaning must be performed regularly
  • Pellet container must be filled regularly unless you have bulk storage with an automatic feed


If you are interested in upgrading to a pellet stove rebates are available.

Below is a video describing our pellet boiler.

Certified Wood Stoves


EPA certified wood stoves burn cleanly and efficiently. Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) measures heating appliances efficiency. Higher AFUE is more efficient.

Research and Studies

Good Firewood – the Key to Successful Wood Burning

Tsiigehtchic Wood Stove Change-out for Elders


Rebates are available.

Efficient Oil Furnace or Boiler

Efficient Gas Furnace or Boiler

Passive Solar Heat

Build homes and other buildings with south facing windows and triple-ply glazing. When sunlight comes through the windows and heats the building, you are making use of a local, renewable energy – sunlight. Heating bills can be reduced by 20%.

Solar Air Heating

Put up a Solar-Wall on the south side of a building. These systems are easy to operate and maintain.

For more information on solar air heating, see our monitoring results for the Weledeh Catholic School in Yellowknife.

Water Heaters


Although most water heaters last 10 to 15 years, it’s best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your water heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.

On-Demand Hot Water

On-demand hot water systems allow you to use only the hot water that you want to use without keeping a large tank of it heated.


Rebates are available.

Drain Water Heat Recovery System


Drain Water Heat Recovery Systems are similar to HVAC systems except they deal with water instead of air. DWHR systems recover energy as water leaves the house. They are best installed in houses with two floors or a basement, and work best on showers.


Rebates are available.

Solar Water Heating

Put up south facing solar collectors where they will get lots of sunlight.

The sun heats the waters as it flows through the collectors. The heated waters goes to your hot water tank.


Rebates are available.

Other Resources


AEA Residential Wood Pellet Heating Guide