The short answer of whether electric hydronic baseboard heaters can save you money is yes, they can. Of course, the issue is a bit more complicated than that, especially when you factor in other costs.
For the most part, when used sensibly, this type of heater can reduce your monthly energy costs, despite the fact that electricity is typically more expensive than natural gas for heating. Before explaining how electric hydronic baseboard heaters can save you money, an explanation of their costs is in order.
The Truth About Electricity
Electricity is produced primarily from burning fossil fuels. The fuels are burned to heat water which then produces steam. The steam powers industrial turbines which go on to produce electricity. Hydroelectric power is different in that the turbines are powered by river currents, but by and large, most electricity is created from gas, coal or oil generators.
Consequently, as much as 70% of the fuel’s energy potential is lost, with only 30% actually becoming electricity. These facts represent hidden costs for every homeowner who pays for electric power. Although they are indirect, they nonetheless reflect the true cost of using electricity to heat a home.
Electric Hydronic Baseboard Heat
While it is true that the energy inputs required to produce electricity are sometimes greater than the net energy produced, it is worth noting that with electric hydronic baseboard heat, practically all of the electric energy becomes heat in the home. This means their efficiency rating is extremely high, almost perfect once the electric power makes it to your home.
Hydronic baseboard heating systems are more efficient than other forms of electric resistance heating, such as traditional baseboard convection heaters. Hydronic baseboard heaters have the encased electric heating element completely submerged in water, a heat-transfer liquid that provides thermal mass. As the element heats up, the water becomes steam. As cool air is drawn into the heating unit, the steam heats it uniformly and projects it into the room.
How Electric Hydronic Baseboard Heaters Save You Money
Electric hydronic baseboard heaters save you money in two primary ways. First, the actual method of heating is more efficient. The self-contained water is a thermal mass which acts as a store of heat. Thus, it will stay warmer longer even after the heater is turned off than an element heating air. This directly translates into the room staying warmer for a longer period as well. By regulating the temperature of a room in such a fashion, the heat does not need to be on as long.
The second way it saves you money is by virtue of each heaters’ independence. Each electric hydronic baseboard heater is thermostatically-controlled meaning that there is one thermostat for each baseboard heating unit. Thus, if the family is together in one room, you only need to activate that one baseboard heater. The rest of the house can be heated as necessary, but heaters can be turned off when a room is not in use. This leads to more direct savings.