Radiant electric heaters, commonly know as baseboard heaters, are 100% efficient. Every dollar spent on fuel is returned in heat. The issue is, of course, the fuel is expensive. Lots of times there are no economical ways to change to a cheaper fuel. Here are some ways to make sure the efficiency of electric heat is optimized.
1. Keep the baseboard heater element clean. The business of life puts a layer of cat dander, dog fur, and dust on the element. Running the vacuum cleaner over the element using the bristle brush attachment at least 4 times a year will work wonders as the element doesn’t have to heat up all that stuff before it heats up the air in the room.
2. Replace the thermostats. There are three kinds of thermostat control for baseboard heaters. The first, and least efficient is the little knob that is mounted on the unit itself. The second is the wall mount unit that controls the heat by sensing the room temperature from a point away from the heater and directly cuts the power to the heater when temperature is satisfied. The third is a wall mount unit that runs on low voltage controlling the power to the heaters via relays (switches) that are usually mounted at the electrical panel. A simple change of these thermostats to new units will result in about a 5% savings.
3. Replace the thermostats with electronic standard or programmable units. Technology has improved in the last few years and the accuracy of an electronic thermostat will result in 5% to 10% savings. Programmable units 10% to 15%.
4. Replace the heaters. Any heater between 15 and 25 years old is performing marginally and any heater 25 years old or older has outlived its useful, efficient service life. Modern units are sleeker, lighter and better engineered to accept modern thermostat options.
CAUTION: YOU ARE WORKING WITH LETHAL VOLTAGE WHEN WORKING WITH ELECTRIC HEAT. IF YOU ARE NOT COMPLETELY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT SAFE WORKING PRACTICES WITH ELECTRICITY DO NOT CHANGE THESE UNITS. HIRE AN ECRA/ESA LICENCED CONTRACTOR FOR THIS WORK.
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