Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Outside Furnaces Good Option As Fuel Prices Soar

By James Jones
As natural gas prices continue to rise, and the price of fuel oil goes out of sight, more and more people will be looking for a safe and efficient way to heat their homes.

For many that choice will be wood. Wood stoves in the house have traditionally been a dangerous way to heat a home. Improper chimneys build up with creosote and explode in flames burning over 1600 degrees, often catching nearby combustible surfaces on fire.

To eliminate that problem, many homeowners are switching to outside furnaces that provide hot water which can be tied into existing hot water and forced air home heating systems, burning forest waste and turning it into heat.

Pole materials that would be chipped or left to lay on the forest floor can be used in kind of a recycling operation that lets material from the forest be used to provide heat.

Although many areas are regulating the outside furnaces, which usually produce excess smoke
when refilled in the morning, they are a great safe alternative in home heating.

Manufacturers have been working to cut down on the emissions from these stoves. Many are designed to burn at higher temperatures to cut down on smoke and unburned particles.

Municipalities should co-operate in redesigning these burners for efficiency as they are a great option for those who would otherwise have to pay high gas and oil bills.

Those with electric heat are expected to have to bite the bullet in the next few years as deregulation takes place in Pennsylvania.

Opposition to outdoor furnaces have led to bans in some areas of central Pennsylvania, and others have adopted regulations on new installations. Residents should not have to be smoked out by their neighbors, but care in placement will help prevailing winds from carrying smoke to neighbors homes most of the time.

While smoke in the Wintertime may not impact neighbors whose houses are closed up, users may have to find other means to heat residential hot water to lessen the impact in the late Spring, Summer, and early Fall when windows are open.

Modifications would allow a loop of plastic pipe laid out on or under a south facing roof to circulate sun heated water into the boiler to store heat for the night hours and help provide hot water for residential use.

Rather than banning these safe outdoor units, more thought should be given toward improving these systems for the betterment of all residents.

Legislation, if any should be directed on an individual basis toward those who use these furnaces to burn noxious material, irritating to their neighbors, while encouraging their use by those who do not cause problems for others.

Sandy Township Residents Ask About Outdoor Furnaces

Courier Express
DuBOIS - An outdoor furnace in the Oklahoma section of Sandy Township is causing a stir once again.

Several residents attended the supervisors meeting Monday to find out the status of the outdoor furnace ordinance.

Paul Gulvas of Maple Avenue said he hopes he will not have to spend another summer with his windows shut because of an outdoor furnace in his neighborhood. He said this issue was brought to the supervisors last year and he wants to know where things stand.

Supervisor Brady LaBorde asked what type of ordinance everyone is looking for, one that regulates furnaces year round or just for the summer.

Ron Reed said he would like to see an ordinance that is in effect year round.
"The smoke is a nuisance year round," he said. "I understand people have rights, but one person's rights shouldn't overrule a whole community's rights."

LaBorde said the board has been looking into an ordinance, "but maybe not as intensely as we should have been."

Reed said he thinks the supervisors have been dragging their feet.
"Maybe the neighborhood should get a lawyer and get an injunction like other neighborhoods have done," he said.

Supervisor Dave Sylvis said the supervisors are not ignoring the request.
"We have been checking into the legality of your request," he said. "We want to make sure (an ordinance) would be sound. I agree you should be able to breathe clean air. We don't want this to end up in court being challenged."

Solicitor Greg Kruk said there is not a lot of law on these types of ordinances.
"We don't want to draft an ordinance against one person," Kruk said. "We want to write it for the entire community. This hasn't been forgotten."

"Maybe it hasn't been forgotten, but it hasn't been put up too high on the burner," Gulvas said.
LaBorde said there is no time line for an ordinance being passed; "we have just discussed some ideas.

What you must understand is that any ordinance we draft and pass must cover the whole township," he said.