Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Heating constraints

One of Environment Canterbury's KPIs is keeping down the number of days in which Christchurch experiences high levels of fine particulate emissions. One of their mechanisms for doing this is encouraging the replacement of older logburners with newer, lower-emitting models and banning the installation of logburners in new houses.

Logburners are consented for 15 years. After 15 years, regardless of whether the burner is still fine, you have to replace it.

The logburner in our house is fine, but has fallen outside of the consent window. Because we lost another heat source in the earthquake, our EQC coverage will replace our logburner, when we get our repairs done. Our old brick chimney will be decommissioned and we'll be getting a new approved solid fuel wood burner.

But, it's taken a long time to get EQC and our builder into agreement on the costs of repairs to our house. Basically, we're going to have to go out of pocket several thousand dollars above our deductible to get the repairs done to a standard consistent with that which we thought we'd paid for (full replacement to an as-new standard), but the assessors for the mandatory EQC insurance scheme care more about keeping total costs down than about fulfilling their contractual obligations. Suing them would cost more than just paying a few thousand dollars to get the job done properly and would come with no guarantees of that the job would get done.

In the meantime, we have an out-of-consent logburner. We hope that it'll be replaced soon; we're meeting with our builder next Wednesday to schedule the repairs. We also have three heat pumps. We run the logburner on the one-night-in-three in winter when the temperature drops below zero and the heat pumps can't keep up.

ECan is cracking down on older logburners.
Environment Canterbury warns it will enforce bans on older wood burners this winter - the first time since the earthquakes.
Commissioner David Bedford said ECan had not enforced bans on older-style wood burners since the earthquakes, but would be targeting 8000 homes this year.
"Its been three to four years now and we feel now is the time to tighten up the enforcement side of things."
Teams would use thermal imaging technology to check chimneys and, if necessary, take action from next month.
However Bedford said exceptions would be made for those who needed it.
"If life is still pretty tough through the earthquakes or even if you were badly affected by flooding, please call and let us know."
He said fines of $300 would be used as a last resort.
We got the "don't use your logburner or else" letter from ECan. Because we're still waiting on our earthquake repairs, I phoned them, seeking the exception that Bedford here advertises. When I called, the person on the other end of the line said that we likely weren't eligible for an exemption because we also have heat pumps. We'd have been eligible if we only had electric heaters, but heatpumps likely rule us out. She said she'd check with her supervisor and get back to me. She didn't get back to me.

I'm consequently going to continue with my status quo: burn dry and clean wood on nights that drop below freezing, or on the really chilly damp days. I'd sooner pay the $300 than have our kids be cold.

But is it really credible that, in an election year, ECan will really start issuing fines to those of us still waiting on earthquake repairs? The stories kinda write themselves here and come with all the usual hooks like pictures of cold kids in damaged houses on the east side of town, barred by ECan from using their soon-to-be-replaced logburner. I'm sure the journalists can find more sympathetic-looking cases than ours, should it come to it. Easy headlines for it too: "Government logburner ban brings winter chill for families still awaiting EQC repairs."


  1. ECAN rules
    the basis of the new log burners is to make sure they can not be ramped down
    to smolder low overnight. This problem is overcome by
    1, Buy an expensive log burner, which has an effective low burn
    2.get me in to fix the low oxygen air intake, a simple procedure

  2. The second paragraph above is factually incorrect ....In Chch clean air zone 1 , the age of a log burner means NOUT if the burner can run clean enough to pass current tests .
    ECan have known this for quite some time , yet continue to give misleading and incorrect advice between the lines people 'fines are a last resort' ....maybe because they are making empty threats .
    The Press exposed these lies around Thur 9th April ....

  3. So the threatening letter they sent me was factually incorrect and I could keep my existing burner by getting it tested?

  4. The term HVAC originates from the words Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning and it is usually employed when speaking about an individual who renovates older homes or perhaps facilitates building new ones,installs basic heating system, ventilating and also air conditioning accessories and much more. San Jose

  5. Jeremy Allan D'HervilleFri May 09, 03:50:00 pm GMT+12

    If they investigated the ventilation issue caused on the cylindrical chimney pipe in typical winter conditions that cause negative pressure, then there would never be a need to fool around with the appliance's oxygen intake controls. They are not addressing the primary ventilation issues affecting the combustion via the exhaust pipe. Their chemists, not physicists.