Cool Radiators Get Hot

Pierre Lemieux got into the business of repurposing cast-iron radiators to save what he considers a lost art form.

"I kept seeing these old, architecturally beautiful radiators going to scrap," says the owner and brains behind, EcoRad, a Canadian company he started nearly 30 years ago to save and re-use the historical artifacts.

Cast iron radiators date back to the mid 1800s and designed with a steam system that connected to a boiler. As the water boiled, steam filled the radiator, conferring heat. But as homes modernized, the radiators were often sent to the trash heap.

Today, Lemieux is breathing new life into these antique gems.He retrofits the iron beauties with a heating element that gives off energy-efficient radiant heat. The repurposed radiators are controlled with a programmable thermostat which will make them give off just the right amount of heat. Lemieux says the process uses 99 percent recycled materials. Not only does salvaging the old radiators save us all from the greenhouse gases produced from melting them down, owning an EcoRad original saves the consumer money and certainly beats the alternative. Lemieux says forced or convection heated air isn't as comfortable as radiant heat. The former merely pushes around air, dust and disease.

"I think our ancestors architectural finesse for cast iron was great. Especially that what came out of Modern America from the 1850s to 1920s from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Boston," Lemieux marvels. "Our forefathers really studied heating at a time when homes were less insulated, they knew what they were doing."

So who's buying them? Lots of folks, from fellow Canucks to Minnesotans to Philadelphians. EcoRad works on-site and repurposes existing radiators or sources among the local supply and estimate that the process takes four to eight weeks. And if you need more incentive to go retro, EcoRad also has its own vintage stock, with their oldest radiators dating back to 1850.
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