Whistler2020 on the Ground 

Got gas?

Terasen Gas, Whistler2020 Partner

The conversion of appliances from piped propane to natural gas currently underway might not be your typical major Whistler event - no world-class competitors, no cheering crowds of fans and no medal award ceremony - but it is a meaningful step along our Whistler2020 journey. And it's still a great cause for celebration.

When the last appliance has been retrofitted sometime in late August and the Terasen Gas crews have all gone home, we'll see an annual reduction in the greenhouse gases associated with piped propane across Whistler of some 15 per cent.

But there's still a lot more that we can do to reduce energy consumption and Whistler's carbon footprint - especially those of us whose homes do not share space and water heating with other residents.

There have been tremendous strides in the efficiency of natural gas appliances over the past few years, and many older appliances are ideal candidates for an upgrade. Because of safety concerns any heating appliance that is more than 15 years old should be inspected and serviced before Terasen Gas converts it. But age is not the only criterion you should consider as a reason to upgrade. The numbers tell the story.

A standard natural gas furnace generates heat with an efficiency of 60 to 70 per cent, less as it gets older. In other words it only produces 60 to 70 cents worth of heat for every dollar spent on heating. A modern, high-efficiency furnace operates at about 92 to 97 per cent efficiency. That means it provides all the comfort you're used to for a lot less money and the fuel savings mount up year after year.

Another way to save on home heating costs is to ensure you don't get more or less furnace than you need. Furnaces are rated in British Thermal Units (BTU), a measurement of how much heat can be produced. Different homes, even homes of the same size have different requirements. A licensed gas contractor can help ensure the furnace you choose is just right by taking into account factors such as size, construction, heat loss, local winter temperatures, ductwork design, filter system, venting and space limitations.

The typical gas fireplace can also add gigajoules (GJ) to your monthly gas bill, but not necessarily in the way that you might expect. Older heating, and most decorative, natural gas fireplace inserts have an efficiency rating as low as 50 per cent. Current models offer efficiency ratings in the 70 per cent range. But the hidden energy loss results from the use of pilot lights.

A pilot light burns gas constantly, up to a GJ a month. Upgrading to a model with an electronic ignition eliminates this waste and represents a potential annual saving of approximately $240 based on a natural gas commodity price of $20 per GJ.

If your premises are vacant for much of the year, you might also consider switching to a tankless water heater from your storage model. Popular in Europe and Japan, tankless or on-demand water heaters provide unlimited hot water, but only when it is needed, making them ideal for occasions when visiting friends and family are lining up for a hot shower.

If you decide to upgrade, advise Terasen Gas about your plans prior to the conversion of your existing appliances. You can do this by sending an e-mail to whistlerconversion@terasengas.com or by calling the Convert Alert hotline at 1-877-380-5763.

While they won't award you a medal, the money you'll save on energy costs is surely as good as gold.

For the complete story on high-efficiency appliances visit terasengas.com. Be sure to check livesmartbc.ca for information on any provincial or federal financial incentives that may be available to help you save even more. Information about when and where crews will be working in Whistler can be found at terasengas.com/whistler

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