Afterglow GM’s Stephen McDonald article in “Suite Talk”.

WHAT’S NEW IN HEATING TECHNOLOGY

Whether you are shopping for a home heating system or an upgrade for an apartment or commercial building, there will be three main features that will be different from the equipment of the past. Although heating technology has made great strides over the past 10 years, recent advancements including multi-stage burners, high efficiency motors, and controls have set the standard for the following generations of heating equipment.

Multi-Stage or Modulating Burners

High efficiency furnaces and boilers have been around for almost 20 years – so that is not that new to the industry. What is new is how the burners in these units operate. Once-upon-a-time, burners were simply ON or OFF: petal to the metal, or stopped. Now 2-Stage burners are common, but the best are multi-stage or modulating burners. These burners will incrementally increase or decrease the burner size when it is firing to match the heating load. This mimics highway driving in a car versus city driving stops and starts. “Highway driving” heating cycles are longer, easier on the equipment and more efficient. Modulating burners are available on furnaces, boilers and water heaters.

High Efficiency Motors

Today’s motors, either to run furnace fans or boiler pumps, are turning to high efficiency technology to save electricity. Commonly referred to as ECM or DC motors, they are Electronically Commutated Motors powered by a DC electric source. What it means for the Heating Industry is that there is dramatic cost savings versus a typical AC motor, and superior controllability.

BC Hydro conducted a study in 2007 of two identical apartment buildings, one equipped with an ECM pump, the other with a single speed AC pump. The results showed a 76% savings for the ECM pump. Depending on the size of the motors, this could offer significant operational savings.

Controls

To complement the improvements to burners and motors, controls have also improved. Where once analog controls dominated, today digital communicating technology is the preferred control strategy. Building management systems and home thermostats can measure outdoor temperatures, humidity levels, and temperatures from multiple rooms. Some systems feature alarms to let you know about problems. And connecting to these systems is easier than ever with friendly interfaces and remote internet access. With ease, you can check your home or building`s temperature from your Blackberry.

It feels like the future is here!

Stephen McDonald is the General Manager of Afterglow Ltd, and the President of the Waterloo-Wellington Chapter of HRAI. He is available at smcdonald@afterglow.ca

What we are doing to help bring Warmth to Youth in the Community!

At Afterglow, we are committed to more than just heating and furnaces!  We believe this community is better when all youth have a warm dry roof over their heads, on a cold winter night.  That’s why Afterglow is working with ROOF, an organization providing service to homeless youth in Waterloo Region, with a monthly donation.

Why we support ROOF.

ROOF is a very important organization in our community. They aim to provide health and safety, resources, access to medical care, education and opportunities to youth experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.

ROOF is equipped with an emergency shelter program that can care for up to 10 to 15 in need youth on any given night. While staying at ROOF, youth are assigned a primary worker who assists them with securing appropriate housing and setting short and long-term goals.

How can you support ROOF?

We have a great idea for the next time you need a lunch catered! Try Lunchbox!  It is a social enterprise program at ROOF. You can purchase a nutritious lunch.  It is the perfect opportunity to help youth help themselves.

A warmer tomorrow

Afterglow believes in ROOF and the many reliable programs they offer. Helping the youth in our area is a critical step in preparing for our future. We need able, healthy and educated youth in order to see our community grow. At ROOF, youth have the chance to get back on their feet while they gain the knowledge and essential skills necessary to secure a bright future.

We hope that by pairing with ROOF, we can help provide a warm, safe environment for any youth in need.

The Blackberry Lazarus

How much abuse can a smartphone take? None, right? Gone are the days of ‘Takes a Licking, Keeps on Ticking’. We are in the age of planned obsolescence. If they make a gadget that will last for decades, you won’t buy another one for decades. So every year you’re replacing one of your major appliances, or your car, computer and of course, cell phone.
Then again, maybe one manufacturer is building something of substantial quality. Take Blackberry, our local titan.
Afterglow’s general manager Stephen was out for a January walk in Monarch woods with his kids, throwing pebbles in the stream. Unfortunately, his Blackberry Torch fell out of his pocket and bounced into the creek. Sadly, the water was too deep and murky to find it. He left the woods without his phone, determined to go back and retrieve it.
Two days later, Stephen took another shot at looking for his Blackberry in the light of day, but this time, the water level was lower. Sure enough, there it was – submerged in the creek. He reached into the icy water and picked it up. Following the wisdom of his father, he put the drowned Torch in a bag of dry rice to absorb the water.
Stephen took the dried Torch to a specialist, only hoping to retrieve his files, but lo and behold, the phone was returned – working!  Stephen’s Blackberry Torch came back to life, and as of three weeks later, it is still going.
We believe that this is a testament to a level of workmanship that is all too rare in this age of planned obsolescence. Afterglow is a proud believer in Blackberry’s secure network and robust construction.
Share your story about a phone coming back from the dead! Comment on this blog and let us know how your phone was resurrected.

FREE FURNACE GIVE-AWAY ANNOUNCED!

The Richardsonʼs receive the gift of

warmth this Christmas!

Heather Richardson started to cry when she opened the door to the Afterglow team in Santa hats. The Richardsonʼs are the winners of the Afterglow Free Furnace Give-Away!

“We were really struck by the Richardsonʼs nomination, they have opened their home and adopted several children. Yet their current furnace wasnʼt heating the upstairs bedrooms. We were determined to fix that.” Said Stephen McDonald, GM of Afterglow.

The entire Afterglow team donated its time and labour. Several industry partners including; Tempstar Heating and Cooling, McKeough Supply and BMC Mechanical donated supplies. A special thank you to Bruce Sweet, Minister at Emmanuel Church for joining the judging committee. The Free Furnace Give-Away is estimated at over $5000.

“Thank you so much,” said Heather Richardson, “and Merry Christmas to all of you”

The old furnace was over 25 years old and was not heating the upstairs bedrooms. It was removed and the new high efficiency furnace was installed. New duct work will help bring heat to the second floor. The Richardsonʼs will now have the gift of warmth this Christmas

It was an emotional day for everyone as the spirit of Christmas was overwhelming. Afterglow employee Chad Pare said, “it IS better to give than to receive! Merry Christmas.”

Have a Merry Christmas!

Blown Softener

Your experience of turning on the faucet and being rewarded with hot water is a daily luxury you probably take for granted.  When the taps yield no heat, it’s easy to assume that there is a problem with the water heater.  In this case study, the innocent tankless water heater is the victim of another appliance’s downfall.

Everybody knows the water in this town is very hard, so water softeners are very common. For tankless water heaters, a softener is pretty much mandatory to prevent lime from clogging them up. Unfortunately, the water softener can fail, and when it does, the problem can disguise itself. The softener’s resin tank let go, and the zeolite – tiny little rubbery plastic beads – was released into the home’s plumbing, which clogged up the water heater.

If you think about how a tankless water heater works, you can imagine how little tiny obstructions make a big problem.  While a conventional tank has a heat exchanger in the middle of a large volume of water, the tankless water heater works on a different principle.  Otherwise known as an on-demand water heater, the tankless water heater warms up cold water as it flows through multiple tiny conduits in the heat exchanger.  If those conduits are blocked by a failed softener’s zeolite, you won’t get any hot water.

While some technicians will rush into a no-hot water situation trying to find the problem with the water heater, Afterglow’s  technicians take a broad view and approach problems systematically.  The homeowner in this situation was lucky to have someone patient, experienced, and smart to diagnose and solve the problem. Call Afterglow when you have a problem and you want to get lucky.

Furnace Giveaway – Thanks for the Submissions!

We closed the nominations for the first annual Afterglow Furnace Giveaway last night at midnight. Thank you to everyone that sent in nominations.  We promise to read every nomination and pick the most suitable candidate.

Over the next week our team will make home checks on the top three and the following weekend we will install a brand new high efficiency furnace in the winner’s home.

This furnace will help the winner in a number of ways. First, an old furnace can be very costly, and a  new furnace will likely knock off up to 30% off the winners gas bill, and provide hydro savings.  A new furnace will heat the house cleaner and greener.  Most importantly, the winner will have a warm Christmas!

Once again, a big thanks to everyone that spread the word!  We were retweeted through the twitter-verse over 40 times.  Thanks to everyone that “liked” us on Facebook and to 570 News for naming me the Good Samaritan of the week! What an honour! And a special thanks to our industry partners for their support, Tempstar Heating and Cooling, McKeough Supply, and BMC Mechanical.

The winner will be announced on December 22nd!

Thanks again.

Stephen McDonald

The Future We Were Promised

Every once in awhile a technological breakthrough happens that changes our lives for the better.  The benchmark of new gadgets was set in 1928 with the invention of the bread-slicing machine. Since then, science and technology have been been promising that a bright, wonderful future and today, Afterglow is proud to offer the greatest thing since sliced bread – the Ecobee thermostat.

The Ecobee Smart thermostat can be controlled remotely with your smartphone or computer. Yes, a thermostat that allows you to monitor what is going on in your home and adjust it while you are away. Sudden change in plans? Save energy by setting back your system from wherever you are. Cold in the bed? Blast the furnace from the safety of your duvet before making the jump to the floor. Live with it for a week and you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

We have become addicted to remote controls. Remember the absurdity of peeling yourself off the couch and slouching up to the television to change the channel every commercial break? Entertainment systems, fireplaces, fans, even my car stereo came with a remote control! Some controls are extraneous, this one is legitimately helpful.

For a demonstration of how the Ecobee Smart thermostat works, and to learn whether your home heating system would be compatible, call Afterglow today!

Helping a Family in Need!

T’is the season!

I’m Stephen McDonald and I’m the General Manger of Afterglow.  We are a local company that offers heating and cooling products and services.  When I started working for the family business years ago, I always tried to find ways that the company could give back to the community.

Today we are launching the Afterglow Furnace Give-away, and I’m really excited to tell you about it.  We will be taking nominations from the community for a family that needs the gift of warmth this winter.  We are donating a high-efficiency furnace and all the installation costs towards this give-away.

Do you know someone that would needs a new furnace?  Please nominate them.  We will consider all the nominations and will announce the winner the weekend before Christmas Day and will install the new furnace on the weekend.  I’m really looking forward to walking up to that home on December 22nd and offering them the gift of warmth this winter.

We are a small local company and would appreciate you spreading the word.  Please help us make sure that one more family in our community will be warm this winter.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Infraction Notice

As licensed gas fitters, sometimes we have responsibilities that make us unpopular.  When we’re on the job and we see something that contravenes the gas code, we’re not allowed to look the other way.  Safety is the only reason why these rules exist.  Funny, we often hear about business wanting to ‘cut red tape’ but this tape is keeping our safety net intact. Where would we be without rules and regulations for gas technicians? I shudder at the mere thought of it.

Recently I found a gas stove on kijiji for a great price.  When I asked about why he was selling it, the fellow told me that his wife didn’t like it, and that a gas technician who was in the house moving the gas line for their dryer noticed an issue with the gas line to the stove.  Unfortunately, that technician had no choice but to abide by the gas code and tell the homeowners that the stove is infracted.  Well that was it: gas stove was coming out!  They went electric, and I’ve gone to gas.

Big news around the industry: a couple models of Majestic brand fireplaces have been condemned.  It seems there is a flaw in the design: there have been a number of reported incidents of gas building up around the ceramic logs and exploding, shattering the glass into the room, and injuring people.  Here is the relevant quote from the TSSA’s release:

A Director’s Order was issued on September 14 prohibiting the sale, lease, rental, installation or use in Ontario of the following gas fireplaces manufactured by CFM Inc. (Majestic Fireplace):

All Insta-Flame and Northern Flame natural gas or propane-fired direct vent freestanding fireplaces with ‘FSDV22’ or ‘FSDV30’ or ‘FSDV32’ in the model name or number.

Any Insta-Flame and Northern Flame natural gas or propane-fired direct vent freestanding fireplace with the prefix ‘R’ in the model name or number is not included in the Director’s Order.

If you have a gas fireplace at home, take a minute to confirm the make and model of the unit. Call us if you have trouble identifying it. Should you own one of these Majectic models, shut it down, and for safety’s sake – get it replaced.

Call Afterglow for your water warmth and well-being needs!

Movember is upon us!

Thursday morning marks the first day of November and also the first day of our next charity project. All the Afterglow guys are participating in Movember, which means we’re growing moustaches to help raise money and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health issues.

One of the challenges of prostate cancer is the stigma.  It is an awkward and difficult subject to talk about.  Movember breaks the ice and brings prostate cancer to the forefront.  The reality is that men need to go to the doctor to get checked out.  Timely detection is literally the difference between life and death.

Check out our team’s page and make a donation here: http://ca.movember.com/team/534673

We’ll be posting pictures of our progress so check back throughout the month!

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