Baseboard heating cost

Old 01-04-17, 06:46 PM
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Baseboard heating cost

This is our first winter in our "new-to-us but very old and drafty" house, so we didn't have any idea what our electric bills would be like in the different seasons. Summer wasn't bad even though we had 4 window air conditioners running nearly around-the-clock, but as we've moved into the winter, our electric bill has gotten really expensive (our only heating in the house is electric baseboard heaters in every room).

June bill - $87.84
October bill - $94.00
November bill - $250.38
December bill - $371.73

December's bill is especially surprising. Due to the big increase on the November bill, I had gone out and wrapped plastic over most of our windows to keep the drafts out. Additionally, we were gone for the last 7 days of the billing cycle and turned all of our lights off and heat down. Despite that, it went up over $100 for the second month in a row.

Does this sound out-of-the-oridinary for baseboard heaters? I assumed that the cost to operate the window AC units might be similar/close to the baseboard heater cost, but it is significantly higher in the winter. Any suggestions on other things to do to bring the cost down to a more manageable level?
Old 01-04-17, 07:40 PM
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Not uncommon.. I had electric heat years ago in NJ and had $600 electric bills on cold months.

There are many programs out there to help all electric home to pay their bills, and weatherize the home. I usually only paid less then $200 of those $600 bills through grants and liheap/heap programs.

Depending on income level.

PUC - Energy Assistance Programs
Old 01-05-17, 05:36 AM
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No, your electric bills do not seem unusual. I would expect much worse as it gets even colder in January and February.

It depends on your energy costs but I generally consider electric heat to be the most expensive. Whether it be an electric furnace (not heat pump), electric radiant floor or electric base boards any resistance heating is an expensive way to make heat. They are inexpensive systems to install and maintain but you pay for it in operating cost. This graphic is just a crude idea of how much more you might expect to pay for electric heating versus other methods:

Old 01-05-17, 06:02 AM
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Electric heat is 100% efficient, meaning that for every watt of electric you put in you get a watt of heat out. You can make sure the elements are clean, and that unused areas are turned down. Beyond that it's up to the building envelope to keep the heat in the building.
You may want to consider the payback for ductless split system heat pumps. They would save on energy consumption considerably
Old 01-05-17, 08:45 AM
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For the most bang for the buck your going to have to get on sealing up all those leaks, air sealing, adding insulation where needed, replacement windows.
From that point on you would be saving money every month.
Old 01-05-17, 05:29 PM
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If your house is drafty then do whatever you can to seal it up to make less so.

Consider what your Tstats are set to. Does every room need to be running at 68-70F all the time? The nice thing about electric is that it is modular. Shut down or turn down rooms that don't need to be comfy or when they are not in use.
Old 01-05-17, 06:30 PM
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You spend about double what I spend to heat my home, but not knowing the size of your home, its age, your charge per kilowatt hour, or the temperature in Pennsylvania, I can't compare much. But in my experience...

1. Adjust your thermostats - get used to wearing a sweater.
- when I am home, I keep the temperature around 15 degrees.
- I close the door on unused rooms and set the temperature at about 10 degrees.
- I turn the house down to about 10 degrees at night.
- I turn the house down to about 10 degrees when no one is home.
These steps work for me, but they wouldn't work for everyone. But doing it does save significant money on my heating bill.

2. Air seal - a tube of caulk and a can of spray foam is your friend.
- when the weather is right, seal up any openings around the outside of your home.
- also go around the inside of your home and check exterior walls for air leaks.
- weather strip doors and windows as needed.
- place foam pads around light switches and electrical outlets
- check insulation and stop airflow between all heated and unheated spaces (crawl space, attic)

3. Upgrade insulation.
- Insulation companies do free estimates! Have a company come by and give you advice. They used an expensive thermal heat sensing gun when they came by my house - this equipment looks into your walls. I found that one wall of my kitchen wasn't insulated (!?), and that a chunk of my attic had no insulation. I'd have never of figured this out for myself.
- I also encapsulated my crawl space
- added insulation in my attic
- pulled up floor boards and insulated the rim joist

I don't know how long you intend to stay in your home, but I've seen a lot of benefit in working on my 1942 fixer-upper. Even though I've kept the original windows, my heating cost have fallen significantly. Good luck!

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