Saturday, January 30, 2010

"how efficient is electric heat"?


How Efficient Is Electric Heat?


By: D.Benjamin Castonguay


As an HVAC distributor of electric heaters, I'm asked at least once a week "how efficient is electric heat"? It's a good question because utility prices are going up for the four major fuel sources: Oil, Natural Gas, Propane and Electricity. The oil and gas manufactures of boilers and furnaces are promoting higher efficiency equipment in their radio and TV ads so is a more than fair question.



Electric Heat is 100% energy efficient in the sense that all the incoming electric energy is converted to heat. All resistive heaters do exactly the same thing with the electric energy they use: convert it all to heat. They only differ in the way they distribute it into the house.



There are three forms of heat: radiant, convective and conductive. They are absolutely equivalent because, regardless of its form, heat is always measured in calories (metric), or BTU's (English). Electric space heaters can be radiant, convective, or some combination of both. Regardless of type, the amount of heat generated is always exactly proportional to the amount of electrical power the device consumes. All electrical heaters are 100% efficient. They all provide exactly the same number of calories for a given quantity of electrical energy. The only difference between various spaces heaters is the form of heat they produce. Remember, temperature is NOT a measure of heat; it's a measure of kinetic energy. Your subjective experience (warmer-colder) has no bearing whatsoever on the efficiency of the various types of space heaters. It is comforting to know that you'll always get calories) exactly what you pay for (kilowatt-hours) with an electric heater.



The question you want to ask is how electric heat is going to affect my utilities bills. Unfortunately there is no answer to your question. What I can give you are guidelines and energy saving tips.



The reason I can not give you an answer is because there are too many variables to the equation:



• What are you paying for Electricity in your area? (Most likely you are paying between 3 cents to 15 cents per Kilowatt hour or (KWH)



• How many hours a day are you going to run the Heater?



• What is the temperature you are going to run the heater at?



• How old is your house?



• How well insulated in the house?



• What is your climate?



o Do you live in northern Minnesota or Flag Staff Arizona?



As you can see there are a lot of variables that would go into the equation. The best answer I can give you is to call your local utility company as they tend to have useful info that will help you budget amount.



Do It Yourself Energy Tips To Lower The Cost Of Your Heating Bills



• Turn down your thermostat-every degree you can lower your temperature setting will save you 2% to 4% on your heating bill



• Lower your thermostat at night and during unoccupied hours



• Clean vents and registers to optimize air flow



• Use your ceiling fan to move warm air from the ceiling into the living space



• Open your drapes during sunlight hours and close them at night



• Caulk around window, doors, and wherever air may leak in or out of your home



• Replace door thresholds



• Insulation to your attic ( for more info on how much you need go to energysavers.gov )



• Use a whole house humidifier



• Insulate ductwork in unconditioned area like crawlspaces



• Use Programmable Thermostats. Programmable thermostats have a more accurate reading of the temperature and can be set to automatically set back the temperature at night or while you're away. Most Programmable thermostats have 4 settings so you can set the temp higher in the morning, lower during the day, higher in the evening and lower at bed time.



Use zone control. Zone heating is best to control your heaters w/ multi thermostat in your house in order to shut off heaters that are not needed.



The best thing you can do is find a company that does energy audit - your local utility company maybe able to recommend a 3rd party to do an energy analysis.


About the Author


iapsales.com LLC is a subsidiary of Innovative Air Products inc. located in historical Exeter New Hampshire. IAP is a family operated Corporation that has been selling heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment as factory agents and representatives since 1977. Helping End users, Engineers and architects w/ there HVAC needs http://www.iap-home.com http://www.iapsales.com http://www.batheat.com

(ArticlesBase SC #428972)


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