Natural gas space heating systems for your development
About 50 per cent of a household’s energy use goes toward heating the home,1 so installing natural gas heating systems in your development can be attractive to home buyers. Natural gas is more affordable than other home heating choices and could help them save on energy costs for years to come.
Which system is right for your development?
We recommend installing high-efficiency heating systems wherever possible. A variety of systems are available to fit your needs and budget, including forced-air furnaces, hydronic heating and combo systems with water heating, and in-wall heating and cooling for multi-family buildings.
Natural gas forced-air heating systems
Delivering warmed air via a furnace and system of ducts is the most common method of home heating and preferred by many home buyers. Consider your budget, space requirements for your development, and your customers’ anticipated needs to select a model that doesn’t use more natural gas than needed to heat the space. A heat loss analysis by your contractor or mechanical engineer can help you select the right size of system for your development.
Benefits of forced-air heating systems
Reliable and efficient source of heat
New furnaces installed in new houses and developments must have a minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 90 per cent. ENERGY STAR® qualified furnaces are at least 95 per cent efficient and can be vented through a wall, eliminating the need for a roof vent or chimney. They have two heat exchangers that recover heat from combustion and flue gases, so most of the heat generated is put to use rather than lost.
Comfortable warmth throughout the home
Forced-air furnaces usually bring in fresh air from the outside for ventilation, creating a healthier indoor environment than electric baseboard heating, which does not have a ventilation component.
Improved air quality
The furnace’s air filter helps reduce airborne pollutants such as dust and improve indoor air quality.
Safe for homes
The sealed combustion in high-efficiency furnaces protects indoor air quality by isolating the burner and flue from the home. A two-pipe direct vent system separates fresh air coming into the combustion chamber from exhaust gases being vented outside.
Advanced controls and zone heating
You can add a compatible programmable or smart thermostat to help homeowners take advantage of energy-efficiency features such as scheduling, remote access from a smartphone or setting up zone heating to maximize comfort and cost savings.
Make sure it’s installed right
Guidelines for sizing and installing forced-air heating systems can be found in publications such as the ASHRAE Handbook or in documents published by trade associations such as the Thermal Environmental Comfort Association (TECA). Our directory can help you find a licensed natural gas contractor to install your equipment
Natural gas hydronic heating systems
Hydronic heating systems use natural gas boilers to heat water, which is distributed by pipes hidden in the floor. These heating systems can use radiant floor coils, radiators or hydronic baseboards to provide luxurious warmth throughout the home. It’s also possible to create a combo system to supply domestic hot water by adding another heat exchanger and storage tank to the boiler.
Benefits of hydronic heating systems
Make homes warm and cosy
Radiant-based hydronic systems heat homes by warming the objects in a room, rather than heating the air. This provides a comfortable warmth that premium home buyers will appreciate. Heating can be controlled by thermostats zoned for individual rooms or areas of the home.
Increased comfort and efficiency
Residential gas boilers have a minimum annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of at least 82 percent, and ENERGY STAR qualified boilers must be at least 85 percent efficient. The well-insulated pipes lose very little heat as it’s distributed throughout the home. In a combo system, when the hot water in the storage tank is not being used, the heat can be redirected to space heating.
Flexible and versatile
Hydronic heating can be distributed in many ways, such as in-floor tubing, recessed radiators, hydronic baseboards or even hydronic towel heaters in the bathroom. It can also be used in a combo system to supply domestic hot water for the home or connected to a fan coil to provide cooling in summer.
Design friendly and unobtrusive
It can be easier to conceal hydronic pipes than ductwork for a forced-air system. They can be hidden in the floors, and recessed radiators and hydronic baseboards can be incorporated into interior designs.
Make sure it’s installed right
Guidelines for sizing and installing hydronic heating systems can be found in publications such as the ASHRAE Handbook or in documents published by trade associations such as the Thermal Environmental Comfort Association (TECA). Our directory can help you find a licensed natural gas contractor to install your equipment.
Wall pak heating and cooling systems for multi-family developments
With the option of combining natural gas heating and electric cooling in a compact package concealed in an exterior wall, wall paks offer benefits to both developers and potential buyers in condos and apartments. Residents can control their comfort year-round with the thermostat in their suite, and developers can save on building costs while offering the attraction of natural gas in their development.
Benefits of wall paks
Saves on building costs
Wall pak units eliminate the need for separate central HVAC systems, rooftop chillers or cooling towers, as well as expensive structural support. Each unit requires very little ductwork, which further helps save costs.
Fits into your building design
Housed in small mechanical closets, individual wall pak units can blend into the design of your building. Each one requires a single natural gas connection and a vent outlet through an outside wall. Minimalist components offer flexibility with system design and installation, saving you time and money.
Individual control for homeowners
The wall pak’s heating (and cooling, if that option is added) functions can be controlled by the in-suite thermostat. Heated (or cooled) air is distributed by ducts that can be concealed in the ceiling. You can select the size for your floor plans to reduce excessive heating and cooling in individual suites.
Simplified maintenance for stratas
Since every wall pak is its own standalone heating and cooling system, a service call made to one suite to fix a problem doesn’t affect the functioning of the wall paks in other units. The ability to service individual units is a benefit to the entire building strata, which adds long-term value.
Ready for individual metering
If you’re adding other natural gas appliances to your development, such as water heaters, dryers, cooktops, fireplaces or quick connect outlets for barbecues, you can have individual metering installed. This gives residents more control over their energy usage and ensures they don’t have to subsidize their neighbours.
Make sure it’s installed right
Guidelines for sizing and installing forced air heating and cooling systems in your development can be found in publications such as the ASHRAE Handbook or in documents published by trade associations such as the Thermal Environmental Comfort Association (TECA). Our directory can help you find a licensed natural gas contractor to install your equipment.
We’re here to help
Want to build the attraction of natural gas into your next development? Contact a FortisBC energy solutions manager.
1Source: Natural Resources Canada, Office of Energy Efficiency, Comprehensive Energy Use Database, residential sector, BC, Table 2: Secondary Energy Use, 2015.