Electric baseboard heat has a number of advantages. It can easily be installed in existing homes, requiring very little space, because no ducts are needed. It's silent, using the principle that heat rises to create air circulation. With no moving parts, there's very little that can go wrong. And it allows you to heat different areas of the home to different temperatures to lower your energy usage.
When people think of electric heat, however, there's one worry that seems to come up frequently: cost. Luckily, there are some things you can do to reduce baseboard heating costs (besides wearing your parka all winter). The best way to take advantage of baseboard heat is by focusing it to direct the heat where you want it.
Zone heating is one of the big pluses of baseboard heating. By having a thermostat in each room, you can control what parts of your house are heated rather than wasting energy heating areas that aren't in use. For zone heating to work well, there are two important things to remember:
- Try to close off the part of the house that you are heating as much as possible. Close the doors between rooms to hold the heat where you want it.
- Don't turn the heat completely off in unused rooms. While it sounds like it would save money, it can actually end up costing you more as the heater has to work extra hard when it's turned back on. 50 degrees is a good base temperature; if you're renting, make sure to check your lease, as it may require you to maintain a minimum thermostat setting.
Drafts And Insulation
The better insulated your house is, the less energy your heating system uses. While it might be cost-prohibitive to redo the insulation in your walls or replace your windows, there are smaller steps that you can take to make a difference.
Applying plastic to your exterior windows with an insulation kit and getting sealant strips to apply to the bottoms of doors are two common ways to help improve insulation. But don't overlook what window treatments can do for you. A lot of heat can be lost through windows, and curtains are great at preventing that.
Ideally, you want curtains that are labeled as "thermal" or "insulated." However, any thick material will help somewhat. You want to block the window off from the rest of the room as much as possible, so keep your curtains closed and make sure they also reach back to the wall on both sides. The closer they hang to the window, the better – including at the top of the window. A pelmet or box valance can help the curtains seal off the window on top.