Coming home to a warm home at the end of a long day is one of the finer comforts in life. But how should you heat your home? What’s the best way to do it? Let’s look at how most people already heat their homes in this neck of the woods – with electric heat.
Electric Heating: What are your options?
Electric baseboards are typically located beneath windows, which is more of a functionality thing than a design idea. As cold air drops from your window to the floor, it goes into the baseboard vent where it’s heated by the metal fins in the baseboard unit. Once the air is warmed, it rises up into the room. The process repeats itself over and over to give a circular heat convection system.
Pros: One of the best things about baseboard heaters is that you don’t waste money on heating your whole house if certain rooms in your house remain unused for part of the day. For example, you can turn the heat up in the bedroom at night, while allowing the rest of the house to stay economically cool.
Cons: Baseboard heaters don’t win awards for energy efficiency. This can make them a costly option if you rely upon them as the sole heat source for your entire home.
Electric Fireplaces and Inserts
An electric fireplace is a great option if you want the cozy luxury of a fireplace without the effort of hauling your own firewood. If you already have a fireplace, you can choose one of the many types of electric fireplace inserts on the market. These units fit right into your existing fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, an electric fireplace is a far more affordable option than knocking out a wall to install one. An electric fireplace, unlike just the insert, comes as a whole unit, with both fireplace and mantle. Both electric fireplace inserts and electric fireplaces function with the same energy efficiency and produce the same number of BTUs.
Pros: Unlike their wood-burning counterparts, electric fireplaces do not need to be cleaned out regularly to prevent them from being a fire hazard. And unlike both wood and gas fireplaces, they are not subject to corrosion. This makes electric fireplaces a safe, long-lasting option. They are also easy to install and give off no harmful emissions that can have a potentially negative effect on air quality both inside and outside the home.
Cons: You may find you can’t get used to the look of red, orange and yellow lights shining on plastic logs versus having a real blaze in your fireplace. Additionally, electric heat is typically more expensive than wood heat and if the power ever goes out, so will your electric fire.
Radiant Floor Heating
This has got to be one of the most luxurious sources of electric heat! Radiant floor heating uses individual wires or mesh just beneath your floor. Unlike hydronic radiant heat, which utilizes tubes filled with hot water, radiant floor heating heats up your floors with tubes of hot air.
Pros: One nice feature about radiant floor heating is that your floors can retain heat even after you’ve turned it down. Adding heated floors to your home can also lower your overall heating cost, as they use a relatively low amount of electricity.
Cons: Radiant floor heating systems are somewhat expensive to install, especially retroactively. They are also notoriously difficult to fix should one of your wires break beneath your floor. This type of heating works best with stone or tile floor and, therefore, may not work with optimum efficiency if installed beneath a wood or carpet floor. Finally, heated floors are more of an indulgence than a primary source of heat. Heated floors supplement other types of heating, not the other way around.
Space Heaters In terms of electric heat, space heaters are often one of the cheapest upfront ways to do it, although there is a wide range in price. These typically work best in small spaces that require a heat boost to supplement another form of heat. There are three main types of space heaters.
- Radiant heaters heat up a small area quickly.
- Convection hearers work more slowly to heat a larger area, such as a whole room.
- Combination heaters offer a durable combination of both convection and radiant heat.
Pros: Space heaters allow you to heat up a small area quickly with relatively little electricity. So if you’re sitting on the couch for the evening, you can heat up yourself or the air around you and leave the rest of the house cool. You can also move the unit from room to room depending on where you need the extra heat.
Cons: Space heaters can be expensive to run if you have them on all the time. Also, they may be an unwelcome addition to your home as a bulky unit that has to be placed central enough to offer unobstructed heat, but close enough to the wall to be plugged in. Radiant heaters can also burn people and animals that get to close or set too-close flammable items on fire.