How To Plan A Fireside Date At Home

How To Plan A Fireside Date At Home

This Valentine’s Day looks a little different for most of us due to the ongoing pandemic, but it doesn’t mean we can’t bring romance and date nights home. With the significant changes in the way we spend our time, it’s essential to make your date night at home feel just as exciting as if you were spending the evening out. The best part? You can come as you are, no dress code required.

Planning a successful fireside date night at home takes a few elements and a little creativity. The following five essential components are the perfect combination for the most romantic date. 



Food is one of the best parts of any evening, and that is especially true when it comes to date nights, as food can be an activity or provide an opportunity to try something new. Cooking together can be a great date night idea, no matter what you choose to cook. If you’re not interested in lifting a finger, this could be a great time to explore local restaurants that deliver directly to your front door. That way, you can be adventurous with new cuisine without having to leave the comfort of your couch.



The drinks or beverages you choose may seem like an insignificant detail but making sure to have options available can make your date night feel like an extra-luxurious occasion. Consider offering multiple drinks throughout the date, such as water to start, a cocktail or a glass of wine as you head into dinner, and finishing off the evening with a nightcap.  



The ambience in your home is a big part of the evening as it will truly help set the mood. Lighting the fireplace adds instant romance to your room, whether you have a wood, electric or gas fireplace. If you find yourself without a real fireplace in your home, you can create that ambience by turning on a fireplace video. No matter how you accomplish that fireside feeling, this little touch makes a huge difference, and also works well if you happen to be planning a fireside picnic in the living room for your date.



Keeping your home feeling warm and comfortable is a significant part of a successful date night, especially as you’ll most likely be spending the entire evening in one room. So set your home’s temperature or fireplace to a suitable level; if you’ve decided to get dressed up, you’ll want to feel comfortable without a jacket or a sweater. As the evening starts to wind down, consider setting out a few cozy blankets for extra comfort and warmth.



The evening’s entertainment portion is where you can get creative and have fun with your plans for the night. Do you prefer a quiet activity or something with a bit of excitement? Whether you plan to cook a meal for two together in the kitchen or a night of charcuterie and board games, choose something that both parties will love and enjoy. 


Now that you’ve gathered everything for your romantic fireside date night, all that’s left to do is pick the time. Consider sending your partner or spouse an invitation a few days ahead so they’ll know to reserve their spot on the couch. All of these little details can make up the perfect night at home and the ideal way to spend February 14th, or any day, with someone you love.

Ottawa Wood Burning Changeout Program Provides Incentives to Replace Inefficient Appliances

OTTAWA – Today, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada, with funding support from the City of Ottawa, launched the Ottawa Wood Burning Changeout Program. The program, open to all rural residents of Ottawa, provides a financial incentive in the form of a rebate to encourage residents to replace an old, inefficient wood burning appliance with a new, certified appliance.

Pre-1992 wood stoves have limited controls on smoke emissions. In contrast, today’s modern stoves and fireplaces cut emissions by over 70 percent. Installing CSA/EPA-certified wood burning appliances have dramatic impacts on the indoor and outdoor air quality of communities, and woodstove changeout programs are proven to incentivize investment. In addition to the environmental benefit, there is also a financial benefit to home owners, as new appliances are more efficient, requiring less wood to produce the same amount of heat.

The program provides a rebate of up to 25% of the cost of purchasing and installing a new, certified wood burning appliance, to a maximum cap of $750. The program also benefits Ottawa area businesses, which serve as the exclusive retailers for the program. Applicants will also be required to prove that their old outgoing appliance is properly disposed of, to ensure that they are permanently removed from circulation.

“This program is a very practical investment that will have a positive and measurable environmental impact, both in the short and long-term,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Having Ottawa businesses as exclusive retailers shows how environmental and economic benefits don’t have to be at odds with one another.”

The program will also feature a number of educational sessions on best burning practices, proper use of the appliances, proper preparation and storage of fuel, and more. For full program details, list of participating retailers, and to apply, residents should visit

“Residents in our rural communities will really appreciate the chance to have a new appliance that provides the same comfortable heat, using less fuel than their old appliance, and with greatly reduced emissions,” said Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, Chair of the City of Ottawa’s  Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee. “And the fact that these new appliances all come from small, local Ottawa businesses makes the program ideal.”

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada is the national not-for-profit industry association that represents businesses which produce, sell, or service appliances and accessories in the hearth and barbecue industries in Canada.



Adam De Caire
Director, Public Affairs
Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada

Wood Heat – New Technology Improves a Time-Tested Sustainable Fuel

Over half a million homeowners in Ontario get some or all their space heating from wood stoves. While most use it for supplementary heat, as part of an effective zone heating system or to combat power outages, many others use it as their primary source of heating.

Whether you are a power wood user, with logs being your primary heat source or you use wood at the cabin or chalet, creating a cozy ambiance at the cottage, this is the time for a refresher on smart wood heating.

Laura Litchfield, Executive Director of the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC), the Canadian wood heat industry association, observed, “With the advent of new clean burning wood stove technology, wood is increasingly seen as a smart fuel choice in many parts of Canada. Wood heat provides warmth when the power goes out, it is easy to obtain and is locally sustainable. The reduced GHG’s from clean burning wood stoves is recognized in the Ontario Climate Change Action Plan and pending wood stove changeout program. Finally, not to be ignored, money paid for firewood very often stays in the local economy.”

A new clean burning wood stove and dry wood are key to successful heating with wood. No matter the type of wood you have available, it needs to be “seasoned”, which usually means splitting the logs and ensuring covered storage over the summer season for drying. The sweet spot is to have wood which has less than 15-20% moisture content, using wood with over 30% moisture means it will be hard to both light and burn. Wood that isn’t being burned completely risks dangerous creosote buildup in your pipes and chimney.

Calculating the moisture content of your woodpile is fast and easy if you use a hand-held moisture meter.  While virtually any dry wood can be used in your fireplace or wood stove, more dense hardwood species such as maples, oaks and beeches require less volume to get the same heat output (measured in British Thermal Units – BTU’s) as a much larger pile of softwood like spruce, pine or poplar. Red Oak has roughly 40% more BTU per volume than White Pine. Low density wood will keep you warm, but will require more work transporting, splitting and greater storage area.

Ms. Litchfield, went on to say, “New wood heat units with proper fuel are a clean burning energy source that deliver more heat per unit of wood than older units.  Many people see the reduction in wood use including less splitting, stacking and carrying as sufficient motivation to replace stoves over 20 years old, while others tout the indoor and outdoor air quality benefits of the cleaner burning units.”

Whether your stove is old or new, to ensure optimal performance and safety, make sure you have your chimney cleaned regularly.  This should be done annually by someone with WETT certification. Your local wood appliance retailer can refer you to a qualified company.

Other common-sense tips include having smoke and CO detectors with fresh batteries installed when you start your wood heating season. You should also have a designated place outdoors to dump ashes safely away from combustible sources.

If you have questions visit or your local wood stove retailer for reliable answers.

Most wood heat retailers and manufacturers in Canada are represented by The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada (HPBAC). The HPBAC is the Canadian industry association for manufacturers, retailers, distributors, representatives and service firms in the hearth industry. The Association provides professional member services and support and consumer education. There are more than 575 members in the HPBAC.

For more information, or to schedule interviews please contact:
Laura Litchfield, Executive Director, HPBAC 1-705-784-0315

Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Action

Getting Your Fireplace Ready for Action

As we head into fall and look forward to cooler weather with a cozy fireplace, we should remember that fireplaces, stoves and inserts – like a vehicle – require yearly maintenance to ensure everything is in good working condition for the heating season. The best person to perform the required service is a trained technician who specializes in the maintenance of fireplaces, venting or chimney systems. Before lighting the first fire of the season, here are a few important maintenance tips if you have a gas or wood-burning fireplace:

  • Have a technician check the gas lines, clean the burner, control compartment, fan and related air circulation passages, as well as check for condensation annually.
  • Ensure the vents are unobstructed and able to do their job.
  • Check the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.
  • Be alert for unusual odors or flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly.
  • Clean the glass and adjust the glowing embers and logs for best appearance.
  • Have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis. Soot and creosote can adhere to the inside and cause a fire because they are highly flammable. A yearly chimney sweep by a professional ensures the whole system is in proper working condition. They will also check the condition of your flue lining, where even a small crack can cause a house fire.
  • Check the integrity of the chimney. When the mortar is cracked or bricks are loose, it can cause moisture to enter your chimney system, which can affect the overall performance of your fireplace. Have it repaired as soon as possible.
  • Make sure the fireplace damper is working properly and that no debris is preventing it from opening and closing.

As with other gas-burning or fire-producing appliances (stove, barbecue, etc.) precautions must always be taken to avoid serious burns. A gas or woodburning fireplace is no exception. Be sure to adhere to the following safety tips to minimize the chance of burns or fire:

Gas Fireplace Safety Tips
  • Installing a safety screen or safety barrier is recommended to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with hot glass, which can take up to an hour to cool.
  • Always supervise children, the elderly, infirm or pets near an operating or recently turned off gas fireplace, stove or insert.
  • Keep the remote control (if available) out of the reach of children. Install a switch lock to prevent children from turning on the appliance.
  • Inform family members and guests that the glass panel of a gas fireplace, stove or insert can be very hot and cause burns.
  • Wait for the appliance and glass panel to cool down before allowing anyone near it. Cool down can take a long time – an hour or more. Some appliances turn on and off automatically with a thermostat, so you may not know when the fire turned off. Always consider the glass as potentially hot.
  • Be aware that metal surfaces such as door frames and grilles may also get hot.
  • Always read the owner’s manual and follow the instructions. For example, there may be ways to disable your remote when not in use to prevent children from turning on the fireplace.
Woodburning Fireplace Safety Tips
  • Install a chimney cap, preferably with mesh, to keep moisture and critters out and to prevent fires by extinguishing hot embers that might otherwise escape from the chimney.
  • Check outside to make sure there are no overhanging tree limbs encroaching on the chimney. Limbs present a fire hazard because they restrict proper draft airflow.
  • Try to burn small fires, as they generate less smoke and cause less creosote accumulation.
  • When building a fire, position the logs toward the rear of the fireplace and use kindling to start the fire, not flammable liquids.
  • Ensure your fireplace is functioning properly by lighting a few small pieces of seasoned wood to see if the smoke exits vertically from the fireplace up the chimney and not into the room. If the smoke doesn’t exit vertically, it could mean there is creosote buildup, debris in the chimney (nests, leaves, branches, etc.) or a closed or partially-closed damper. Keep in mind, if you have a tightly sealed home, opening a window slightly can provide the fireplace the intake air required to direct the smoke up the chimney.
  • When selecting wood to burn, choose dense wood such as oak. Use wood that has been split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months prior to use. Avoid burning green wood such as pine, as it can produce more creosote. Remember, properly seasoned firewood should have a moisture content below 20 percent for best results.
  • Coals can remain hot for up to three days, which can become a fire hazard if they come in contact with flammable materials.
  • Install a metal-mesh screen to prevent hot embers from escaping. While following these tips can provide an extra margin of safety, there is no substitute for a physical barrier. Consumers with existing fireplaces, stoves or inserts should consider installing a protective screen or physical barrier to reduce the risk of serious burns by preventing direct contact with hot glass, the fire itself, or flying embers. Safety barriers are available through specialty hearth retailers or by contacting the manufacturer.

Since January 1, 2015, all newly manufactured glass-fronted gas appliances – that means fireplaces and heaters – require a protective barrier if its glass surface temperature exceeds 172 degrees Fahrenheit. This safety standard requires that the barrier must be in place when the product is installed.

Visit or for more safety and maintenance tips, and contact your local specialty hearth retailer to book an appointment for service.

Heating Your Whole Home

Heating Your Whole Home

Did you know your fireplace, stove or insert – gas, pellet or wood – could have the ability to heat your whole home? It’s true! Fireplaces are beyond being just basement heaters or only having the heating output to warm your living room. With some planning and work, you could install a highly efficient wood burning appliance that gives you the aesthetic appeal of a fireplace with the practicality of a heating system for your home. Imagine, even during the coldest months of the year, turning your furnace down and only using the radiant heat from your fireplace to heat your home. Here are some things to consider.


Building and fire codes can differ region to region, so it is important you understand what your local codes cite with regards to wood burning and installation of a wood burning appliance before you move ahead with purchasing. There can be specifications on wall clearance, pipe diameters and extensions above the roof that dictate how your unit should be installed. It is always recommended you work with a local installer to make sure you are following your local codes.


The appliance needs to be sized appropriately to suit the size of your home and the type of use you expect from it. Whether you would like your unit to heat your living room occasionally or your whole home on a daily basis will change the size of the firebox and heat output you require. Specialty hearth retailers are experts at finding you the right appliance for your home based on square footage and your use patterns.


If you wish to use your hearth appliance to heat your whole home, it is best to have an open concept main floor where the unit can be installed in a central location. Hot air rises, so the warm air will naturally make its way to the upstairs of the home where the bedrooms are located. The basement will stay a bit cooler than the upper levels of the home, but with proper air circulation, warm air will still find its way downstairs. Of course, to ensure you have minimal heat loss, a well sealed and insulated home is important.

Air Circulation

To effectively heat your home with a fireplace or wood stove, it’s important to ensure adequate air circulation to disperse the heat. A great option for open concept homes is to turn the fan on for your forced air heating system to circulate the air and heat from your fireplace. The heat loss to vents will be unnoticeable. Ceiling fans set to reverse pull air up to the ceiling, forcing the warm air that collects at the top of the room to circulate downwards. Minor home renovations can be made to add ducting and vents into the rooms above to distribute the heat to upper levels of the home.

Zone Heating

Depending on the configuration of your home, it may be difficult to disperse the heat from your fireplace or stove effectively to all spaces of your home. Keep in mind that even turning your thermostat down during the day and letting your appliance heat the main areas of your home, and turning the thermostat up in the evenings to heat your bedrooms will still considerably reduce your reliance on your furnace, thereby reduce your energy bill.

The airtightness of your home is always something to be aware of when you are discussing home heating, regardless of your heating source. Increasing your home’s airtightness can have a dramatic impact on how much energy your home requires to maintain comfortable temperatures during the winter months.