Tag Archives: energy


Durable and strong

The expression “invest in stone” used to mean to invest in construction and real estate. Why? Because real estate is a strong and durable sector. Like stone.

Is there a more natural, more resistant, more sustainable and stronger material than stone? It’s practically eternal. Not surprising that it is among the materials of choice in this era of green living.

Stone is abundant in nature. It is recyclable, waterproof, porous and requires little maintenance, which keeps it far away from numerous chemical products. It filters pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide, the main gas behind the greenhouse effect. Another important asset: it’s fire-resistant.

Stone reduces energy consumption in a house by storing the heat for redistribution as needed. It is a natural heat regulator, since it combats temperature variations. In Quebec, however, this ecological advantage is lesser because insulation separates the exterior stone wall from the interior. But lesser does not mean nil. A stone floor exposed to the rays of the sun in winter will slow this ecological loss.


Elsewhere in the world, in certain mountainous regions, crushed stone is piled around foundations of homes to deal with the violent winds and extreme winter temperatures. These crushed stones heat the inside in winter and cool it off in summer.

Stone is not perfect. Its mining, at times its transformation and shipping result in a considerable energy expense, given the weight and mass of the material. These operations release a good dose of carbon dioxide into the air. Therefore, it’s preferable that the stone be mined in the region itself. The shorter the journey, the more the material becomes ecological. Fortunately, Quebec has numerous quarries, including the granite and marble quarries in the Mégantic region, and slate in Saint-Marc-du-Long, the largest quarry in North America according to Wikipedia.



French Wikipedia article on slate
Habitat sain et écologique, Ginette Dupuy, Les éditions Quebecor, 2011, 295 pages

Guide de la maison verte, Michel Durand, Les éditions La Presse, 2008, 339 pages


Photos: iStock.com

Concrete that is indestructible or close to it


Do you know the insulated concrete method for formwork? It consists in replacing the wood formwork with a polystyrene foam formwork (rigid insulation), for the foundation and the above-ground walls. The framework is an integral part of the wall because it stays in place after the concrete work.

This method offers several benefits: increased fire resistance, noise reduction, improved energy efficiency, strength and long-term profitability.

Energy efficiency may be the most obvious benefit. The walls are insulated without air space or thermal bridges inside and outside, from the footing to the roof. The building is impervious to heat loss and air infiltrations if the caulking around the openings is done properly.

This type of construction ensures sustainable development. In ideal conditions, poured concrete in an insulated framework provides a practically indestructible product that will resist humidity, insects and any type of degradation for a long time. Continue reading

No more chills!

Ecorad radiator

Are we the only ones to have suffered from the cold and humidity of the last few months? The only ones to dream of more clement weather?

Even with electronic thermostats in the house, we would get a chill when the sun set. A colleague spoke to us about radiant heating, but with electricity rather than heating oil. You remember those iron radiators that we used to see in our grandparents homes. The ones that they used to say “weighed a ton.” Continue reading

Save our Transparent Gold!

Source : iStockPhoto

More and more people quiver in frustration as they impatiently watch water pour from the faucet, waiting for it to become hot enough. Many overseas countries don’t have this problem.

During our trips abroad to Bosnia Herzegovina, Austria, Egypt or elsewhere, we noticed the small water heaters placed in strategic locations.

For example, in our small apartment in Sarajevo, the one in the kitchen sat above the sink. All we had to do was turn it on a few minutes before we washed the dishes. The water stayed hot enough to wash our hands for hours.

The little tank in the bathroom was always on. Perched in a corner above the bath, it was also used for the sink just beside it. If I remember correctly, the mini front-end washing machine was not connected to the hot water.
In Quebec, the water heater is central and is hidden in a cubbyhole. We waste litres of water every morning. The time it takes for hot water to go through metres and metres of pipes in the plumbing until it reaches the bathroom or kitchen sink. Imagine the waste from water heaters in the basements of two-storey homes!
We were sick of wasting our transparent gold, so we started looking for small water heaters. Hydro-Québec didn’t have anything. However, we were in for a surprise when we looked on the websites of a number of water heaters (see links below). Continue reading