Tip & How-To about Heating & Cooling
Electric heat can come in many different forms. Some of these methods are resistance heating, electric arc heating, induction heating, and dielectric heating. The most common of these is the resistance heating. With the resistance heating of electric baseboard heating, water heating and kitchen ranges, you don't have to worry about carbon monoxide or unvented gases. However, direct with electric is really not considered ecologically sound because most electricity uses fossil fuels. This is because about two-thirds of the energy of the fuel is lost within the power stations, and in transmission line losses.
Some of the most popular choices for electric heating systems are thermal storage systems, electric radiant heating, hydronic electric heating and even convective heating. You can also install an off-peak system that can save money and also give you the convenience of electric heat. An example of an off-peak electric heating system that is very common today is an electric plenum heater. Another newer form of heating is a convective electric heating system. Both use electric heaters to heat the air that is then circulated with blowers throughout your home.
Electric heating has several unique advantages. It can be precisely controlled to allow a uniformity of temperature within very narrow limits, it is cleaner than many other methods of heating. It does not involve any combustion and it is considered very safe because it is protected from overloading by automatic breakers. It is quick to use easy to adjust and it is relatively quiet. The main disadvantages of electric heating in industry are the higher cost of electrical energy compared to direct use of fuel, and the capital cost of both the electric heating unit itself and the electrical wiring required to deliver large quantities of electrical energy to the point of use.
Electric heat does have a place. One place where it does shine is in a seasonal cottage that will only be used a few times a year. It is very easy to shut down the heat and turn it back on when you get back there. There is also very little that can go wrong or go bad from the long periods of non-use. For this situation electric is a very good choice. This is really the only situation in which I recommend electric heating.
As you can easily see, electric heating has some advantages and some disadvantages. The cost of electricity has continued to rise and will be skyrocketing even higher in the future. Many states have or will be deregulated electric or are going to do so in the very near future. With the future uncertainty of the cost of electric and the great amount of waste in the transmission system of electric, many owners of electric heating systems are debating whether or not to convert to hydronic baseboard heating. With the super high efficiency of today's gas and oil boilers, they are quickly becoming much more attractive to many homeowners. Combining a high efficiency gas or oil boiler with hot water baseboard or radiant heating gives you great comfort and will give you low utility costs for many years to come.
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