Nichole’s Report VI The Living Room

The boy loves the fire
The boy loves the fire

Over the past winter, the living room has become the warmest room in the house with its wood-burning insert pumping out the heat. Even last spring, when Nichole from BCIT got the data for her report and the oil furnace was still in use, you can see from her results how warm it got in there when we had a fire.

For the complete story on Nichole’s project on our house with BCIT, entitled Evaluating Interior Environmental Conditions of a Maple Ridge Home, click on the BCIT category in the right hand column.

The living and dining room will be the least changed in the house when we renovate. We are restricted by our Heritage Agreement from adding insulation on the outside, thus altering the exterior appearance; insulating from the inside and trying to reproduce the beautiful wood detailing would be a shame.

What we could do, blow in foam insulation, has been done, but at every place where the wood panelling contacts the studs which contacts the exterior siding, there is significant heat loss. In an infra-red photograph, the studs appear as red stripes on the wall, glowing with heat loss.

In our quest to get as close to zero net use of energy as possible, we have decided to leave these rooms alone and do a deeper retrofit on other parts of the house.

Here is what Nichole had to say about the living room in her report:

Living Room
Temperature, relative humidity, and CO2 data for the living room is plotted in Figure 7 below. Figure 8 illustrates the spread of hourly data points on a psychrometric chart, with a comfort zone in yellow assuming a “sedentary” activity level. For the majority of the time, the interior conditions fall within the comfort range. There are isolated instances with high temperatures, which are isolated to the living room. These occurrences likely indicate that the occupants were using the fireplace in this room. Occupants typically expect higher temperatures in the proximity of the fireplace when using one, so the higher temperatures are likely to result in excessive discomfort.


Me again. You may remember that a film crew used the house during this period and that is why the temperature and humidity dive sharply for a few days there. [I believe the film was called The Memory Book and it was made for the Hallmark Channel. Let me know if you recognize our house!] The sound department doesn’t want the furnace to kick on suddenly in the middle of a take, so they shut it off completely.

These wild ups and down in air quality are what modern houses are supposed to be designed to avoid. With the Heat Recovery Ventilator we want, fresh air will be circulated throughout the house evenly.

In the room with the fire, however, I expect we will occasionally be a little nostalgic for the spikes in temperature the insert provided. With an electric, simulated fire, even one that gives heat,  it will never quite be the same. It is the constant heat loss of a chimney I will not miss, nor will I miss the wasted money nor the oil furnace.

Progress sometimes means sacrifice.

Published by

James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

One thought on “Nichole’s Report VI The Living Room”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *