Keeping your house warm is important during the colder parts of the year, and there are a few different heating solutions you can rely on to get the job done. One option that’s often overlooked is baseboard heat. While some older baseboard heat systems may have had their flaws, modern baseboard heaters do a good job of keeping your home warm while maintaining reasonable heating costs. If you’re not sure about baseboard heat or whether it’s right for your home, here are a few things that you should consider.
As the name implies, baseboard heaters are heating units that are installed near the floor around the baseboards of your wall. These heaters produce heat at ground level, allowing the natural properties of air to circulate the heat around without the need for a fan unit or other elements of a forced-air heating system. Depending on your needs and the layout of your house, these heaters can be used either as a supplement to other heating solutions or as the sole source of heat in your home.
Electric vs. Hydronic Heaters
There are actually two distinct types of baseboard heating units, electric units and hydronic units. Electric heating units work similar to space heaters, using heating elements within them to generate heat when electricity is applied to their filaments. These units are often hardwired into a home’s wiring, though plug-in variants do exist. Because these heaters are less energy efficient than other heating options, electric baseboard heaters are often used only part time, such as turning the heater on at night in occupied rooms and then turning them off at bedtime or in the morning.
Hydronic baseboard heaters are a much more energy efficient option to use as an overall heating system. These units feature containers of oil or other fluid which are warmed, similar to radiator heaters, by an electric heating element. The fluid retains heat for much longer than an electric heating filament would, allowing the heater to only be actively using power for a small amount of time while the heater itself radiates heat into the room for hours.
Advantages of Baseboard Heat
There are several positives to using baseboard heating units in your home. Since they don’t use forced air to move heat around, the heaters are quiet and don’t require nearly as much annual maintenance or filter changes as heating units. There is also no ductwork to install since each heater only heats the area around itself instead of trying to heat the whole house. Baseboard heat provides even heat as well, as opposed to the cycle of heating and cooling that’s experienced in forced-air systems where the overall air temperature in one location determines when the unit is turned on and off.
Positioning Baseboard Units
While it’s not always the case, many baseboard heating units are placed below windows or other areas where cooler air might enter the home. The reason for this is that cold air is denser than warm air, causing that cool air to sink. The heater then takes in this cooler air, warming it up and letting it radiate out into the room. This helps to prevent drafts and cold floors, creating an air current in your home as the warmer air rises and is replaced by cooler air yet again.
Is Baseboard Heat Right for Your Home?
There are a lot of things to consider when trying to figure out if baseboard heating is right for your home. The layout of your home, the height of your ceilings, and even the portion of the year in which you actively need to heat your home can all play a part in your decision. Think about how your current unit works, how much you pay to heat your home in an average year, and what it might cost to install and use baseboard units instead. The more consideration you put into it, the more surprised you might be at how well baseboard heat could work in your home.