What is Electric Baseboard Heating?
Electric baseboard heating is a form of high-voltage home heating that utilizes that same electricity that powers the rest of your house to also heat it. Using an energy regulating thermostat, high voltage electric current, anywhere from 120V to 240V, is pumped through to the heater and essentially completely converted to heat. This is in contrast to other heat sources: furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps primarily use 24V (low voltage) power and rely on an external fuel source to create heat and circulate it. While these low voltage heat sources have had smart solutions for thermostats for years now (Nest, Ecobee), there has been a distinct lack of smart thermostats that regulate high voltage current for Baseboard Heaters. That's why we developed Mysa.
Baseboard heaters are installed for 2 distinct reasons: As primary heat, and as supplementary heat (to mini splits, for example). This guide will focus on using baseboards as primary heat.
Baseboard as Primary Heaters
In certain parts of Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and throughout much of the urban border between Canada and the US you'll find baseboards as a primary heat source. Townhouses and subdivisions were usually built with limited space, so the sizeable amount of space that a furnace takes up is impractical. It's also a lot easier to heat confined homes with electric heat. In some urban areas, you'll see install rates surpass 50% and approach 100% in non-high rise neighborhoods.
Are Baseboard Heaters Efficient?
Baseboard heating is, at its core, a very efficient type of heating. Close to 100% of the current transmitted to the heater is transformed into heat. What drives costs up are electricity prices combined with inefficient thermostat technology. With the move towards large scale renewable electricity generation, baseboard heating is increasingly becoming an eco-conscious and efficient choice in what was traditionally a fossil-fuel dominated marketplace.
It also doesn't require a furnace to use, freeing up a huge amount of free space in often cramped urban houses. For small dwellings, the time to setpoint is comparable with other fuel types.
You also do not have to rely on a refilling service or exterior tanks – everything is managed through the exact same lines that power the rest of your house.
What is the Best Baseboard Heater?
There's a lot of choice in the current marketplace for selecting a baseboard heater. You can pick different styles, and find the size, shape, and design that's right for your room. Overall, however, baseboard technology has remained reliably consistent over time. There are baseboards with built-in thermostats, and without them. You can find quality products from reliable manufacturers like Cadet and Dimplex, who have been making heaters for years.
Baseboard heater technology has remained relatively stagnant for years, but real innovation has arisen with energy regulating thermostats with smart features.
As a general rule of thumb, a heater with the thermostat on the heater itself will often give inaccurate readings and lead to increased fluctuation in temperature. It's best to have your thermostat or temperature sensor located away from the actual source of heat. So, if you are going to purchase new baseboards, your best bet is to go with a trusted brand without an onboard thermostat – instead, invest in a smart thermostat and get much more accurate comfort and lower bills.
How to Maintain Baseboard Heaters
Baseboard heaters require very minimal maintenance overall. However, small actions can help prolong the life and effectiveness of your heaters. Dirt and dust are the most common hazards associated with baseboard heaters, but also be sure that your heaters are given room to properly heat the room and are not touching any potentially flammable objects like furniture or lamps.
Like installation, make sure that before you do anything with your baseboard heaters, TURN OFF THE BREAKER. Also, confirm that once you have done this, there is no electricity going to the heater. You can do this simply by turning up the heat and making sure that the heater does not react.
Once you've confirmed this, you can remove the front panel of the baseboard heater and lightly vacuum out the dust and other dirt that has built up. Please consult your user manual or search the make and model of your baseboard heater to make sure that you do this correctly.
After you've completed this, reattach the panel and repeat for other baseboards in your home. Remember to turn back on the breaker after you’ve completed all required maintenance.
How Do You Maximize the Efficiency of Baseboard Heaters?
As noted above, actual baseboard heaters are very efficient at what they do: turning electricity into heat. However, their reliability rests on the same household factors that any other heating source does. To get the most out of your heaters, make sure that you take into account windows, insulation, flooring, and any other part of home building that could be the cause of heat loss. Here’s a guide for making sure your bills don’t skyrocket in winter, another to make sure your household is efficient and bills are low, as well as some innovative technology on the market that can really help you live up to a green lifestyle.
Do Baseboard Heaters Lose Efficiency?
Baseboard heaters, as long as they are properly maintained, should last upwards of 30 years or more. They are very durable and have great longevity by design. If you notice a spike in your bill or comfort level, a reasonable step would be to call an energy auditor or electrician to see if your baseboards are starting to wear out.
Is Baseboard Heating Expensive?
It Doesn't Have To Be.
While we've already covered a lot of the factors that contribute to increased electricity bills (insulation, windows, etc), electric baseboard thermostats are traditionally the cause of such high bills – not the heaters themselves. This is because the technology contained inside is often rudimentary and cheap. Programmable thermostats do help, but the statistics say that over 30% of programmable thermostats are never programmed properly. In the world of smart technology, there's a better solution out there that can cut your bills down every month: Mysa.
We've had customers save over 54% on their electricity bill. That's because the heat regulating technology contained inside is engineered to be the best. We've just built a better thermostat. That's not to mention it gives you all the smart features expected in this day and age: app control, geofencing, compatibility with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit, and even built-in energy charts to track your electricity use. We constantly update Mysa for Baseboard to give you new and improved features. It even works seamlessly in the same app with our new smart air conditioning control product, Mysa for AC.
Are you ready to make baseboard heating work for you? Meet Mysa.