Heating DeFehr During Our Frigid Winnipeg Winters

It might be -40°C outside during this frigid Winnipeg winter, but thanks to our eco-friendly heating system, the inside of the DeFehr Furniture manufacturing plant is a balmy 20°C.

In DeFehr’s on-going effort to reduce waste, our clever employees came up with the idea of using the plant’s scrap wood as biomass fuel to heat the building – a very impressive feat, considering how cold it gets in our prairie province! Other than keeping our employees warm, there are both environmental and customer-related benefits to this heating plan of ours.

To heat our plant, we collect our wood scraps in a large bin where a conveyor belt feeds the wood into the grinder, resulting in sawdust. Throughout the year, the sawdust gets stored in a large silo, keeping it dry and easily accessible, creating biomass heat when it’s burned for energy.

The conveyor belt taking the scrap wood pieces from the bin to the grinder image
The conveyor belt taking the scrap wood pieces from the bin to the grinder, producing sawdust.
A small window allows us to see inside the oven image
A small window allows us to see inside the oven, where temperatures can reach up to 1800ºF.
The large oven, used to burn our wood scraps image
The large oven, used to burn our wood scraps, is 12 feet wide by 20 feet long.

Once the cold invades each winter, we’re ready and able to burn our biomass fuel to reap the benefits of its stored energy. In doing so, we reduce, and in some cases, eliminate, our reliance on natural gas to heat our plant. Wood biomass is clean-burning and has allowed us to reduce our volatile organize compounds (VOC) usage levels by 64% since 2004. Further, because the silos are on-site, we remove the need to transport our fuel source over long distances, contributing further to the reduction of our carbon footprint.

The enormous silo that stores our sawdust throughout the year image
The enormous silo that stores our sawdust throughout the year.

We do our best every day to live up to DeFehr’s commitment to protect the environment. Using our wood biomass efficiently in these ways allows us to avoid the costs of removal and disposal of waste material and helps to shield our retailers and customers from rising costs. Those savings are then reintroduced back into the company to further grow our environmental initiatives, design and manufacture more on-trend furniture, and continue to use quality materials like our locally sourced Canadian pine.

The Stockton storage bed in a warm, sorrel finish on solid pine.
The Stockton storage bed in a warm, sorrel finish on solid pine.

During this extra frigid season, whether you’re piled under blankets on your Stockton bed, having a warm meal at your Prescott dining table, or planning a winter getaway while sitting at your Lexington desk, you can take extra comfort in knowing that DeFehr’s employees are staying warm in an environmentally conscious way that ultimately benefits you, the customer.