Depending on where you live electric baseboard heaters can either be your primary or secondary heating source. Heating with electric can be expensive and is often higher then the cost of oil or gas in either forced hot air systems or baseboard hot water delivery systems.
The people that benefit the most from their use are in homes located in the southern part of the USA where heating is not a regular concern and the need for supplemental heat in the winter months may only average a couple weeks.
In other parts of the country you may find that your builder has included electric baseboard heaters because of a cost factor or supply of oil or gas to your property.
Supplemental baseboard heaters may be installed in vacation homes or they may be used in homes as a secondary heating source where oil, gas or wood is also used.
Although you probably could rely on electric alone in any location the cost can be prohibitive. For this reason if you do have electric heat in your home it is important that you take steps to conserve energy to reduce your costs.
Proper use of your thermostat
If your system is connected to a central thermostat then you should install a thermostat that can set heating times and temperatures.
Reduce the temperature in your home to 60F when you are away for more then a few hours.
Turn down your thermostat at night to a comfortable level.
If you go on vacation or will be away for a few days you should set your thermostat at its lowest level or about 45-50F this will ensure that the pipes in your home do not freeze but will reduce the cost dramatically. It is not a good idea to leave your home in freezing conditions because waterlines will burst.
Zoning Your Heaters
If you have the ability to zone your home you can reduce the amount of heat used during the day. Zoning is a term for splitting up your home in sections and heating that section that you are in and reducing heat in other areas.
While you are sleeping you could easily reduce the heat provided to basements, living areas and your kitchen to 60F while heating your bedrooms at a higher temperature. The reverse would be true during other times of the day.
You can make these adjustments on the heater but a programmed wall thermostat that can set times is probably a better solution and will reduce wear on the heater controls.
Like is necessary for every system insulation and weather stripping is a necessary part of reducing your heating use.
An extremely tight home with good insulation can go close to 24 hours without heating in the case of an emergency. Temperatures will drop but you will not get close to the point where damage would occur to your plumbing.
Adding more insulation in a home that uses electric heat is mandatory.
If your contractor or local building supply center tells you that R40 rating is standard in your area for gas or oil then you should install at least an R60 or more.
Insulation will be helpful not only during heating season but it will reduce your need for cooling in the summer.
Making sure that your windows and doors do not have drafts is very important but they are not the only places you can have heat leaks.
Gaps around ceiling fans, fans used in bathrooms and even light switches and outlet boxes are all places where air can get in or out.
Baseboard moldings are also a serious culprit. Many homes with carpet have their baseboard moldings raised about a half inch. This can be a problem because when drywall is applied to your wall studs there is a gap at the bottom of the wall that the baseboard molding is suppose to cover. In this case you may end-up needing to remove the moldings and stuff fiberglass insulation into the gap or use caulk.
The cost of replacing electric baseboard heaters with another type of heating system can run from 10 to 20 thousand dollars depending on the size of your home and its location.
If you do decide to go with replacement much of the work can be performed by the home owner including installing of vents and duct work but you should have an electrician or plumber make the final connection and inspect your gas lines.
The YouRepair Store sells a full line of heating and cooling products for your home including furnaces parts and air conditioning systems.
Delivery is usually available for free on orders over $25