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Baseboard Heaters: A Myriad of Options for Your Needs

Baseboard Heaters: A Myriad of Options for Your Needs

Interior renovationsBaseboard Heaters: A Myriad of Options for Your Needs

The term “electric baseboard heater” hits just the same as "oversized sweater." It’s warm and comfortable and brings solace right when the winter cold storms in.

In fact, electric baseboard heaters aren’t a new concept – we’ve been banking on these for quite some time as soon as the cold front sets in. While for some, when first booted, the sizzle gets under their skin, for others, this familiar sound is the promise of a cozy cocoon that’ll allow them to temporarily forget the harsh winter cold.

So much for electric baseboard heaters with the many more innovative and effective heating systems on the market. However, that’s not entirely the case. Still today, this system is still the most widely used heating system across Quebec. According to Statistics Canada, two-thirds of Québécois use this method, which suggests that this method isn’t bound to disappear anytime soon!

What's energy-efficient electric baseboard heating?

electric baseboard heaters

Source: Canva

This type of heating system is located along the base of a wall since heat naturally rises. And, for many reasons which will detail down below, baseboard heaters remain popular to this day, despite the arrival of new, modern heating systems on the market. The first reason is rather simple: The ever-popular electric baseboard heater works really well and its efficiency is equivalent to what we’d expect throughout the years.

Here are some of its advantages:

  • They’re cost-effective from the get-go. Even so, be careful, unless your house meets elevated energy-efficiency standards, such as a certified energy-efficient home, the savings acquired during the construction phase are bound to catch up to you down the line.

  • They’re easy to install. An electrician can do it in a flash, and fast equals cheaper, meaning low cost.

  • You can regulate the temperature individually. Thermostats allow you to easily change the temperature in each room so that it’s always ideal.

  • With minimal maintenance, they last for years. As a general rule, their lifespan is evaluated at 25 years and they’re low-maintenance.

  • It does need a bit of space. Is your mechanical room tiny, overflowing, or non-existent altogether? Electric baseboard heaters don’t require much space throughout the house.

As an added bonus, whether they’re aesthetically pleasing or not, newer models to modern brands with sleek designs are offered in a variety of colours, to seamlessly fit all decors. Some models are also available in narrow or compact versions, without so much as reducing their efficiency.

How Do Electric Baseboard Heaters Work?

electric baseboard heater wires

Source: Canva

Electric baseboard heaters are convection systems with a relatively simple mode of operation. The air flows between little metallic coils which are intertwined with resistors that generate heat. The heat is then absorbed by the coils that will disperse the heat into the ambient cold air by way of convection.

Similarly to other convection systems, baseboard heaters favour airflow in a room. The heated air at ground level will rise toward the ceiling, thereby warming up the room. When rising, the air cools, densifies, and then withdraws to be heated again.

Electric baseboard heaters are normally installed under windows since they can counter cold air drafts. In newly built homes according to high energy-efficiency standards, this system can practically recoup all heat loss. In such optimal environments, the baseboard heaters evenly disperse heat for maximum comfort, all the while requiring less energy.

How to Determine to Required Power

The power associated with a select baseboard heater is vital. Should the intensity be insufficient to heat the room in question, the ambient temperature will thus fluctuate. On the other hand, an over-performing model for a restricted space will be inefficient energy-wise and will uselessly increase your heating bills.

As a general rule, for a home that’s insulated in a typical fashion, we calculate about 10 watts per square foot. For example, a 1000-watt-heating system will heat a 100 square feet room (10 ft x 10 ft). However, numerous factors will come into play, like, for example, the amount of insulation and its overall quality, the height of the ceilings, the number of windows, their dimensions, their efficiency, etc.

As such, if the ceiling is over eight feet high, or if there’s a room with a significant draft, one can add 25% to the above-mentioned figure.

Choosing and Installing High-Efficiency Base Heaters 

Baseboard heaters are normally mounted along “cold” walls, meaning exterior-facing walls, and most often, under a window. For optimal efficiency, account for at least six inches of clearance above and in front of the system. A piece of furniture placed directly in front of the baseboard will prevent proper hot air flow.

Never install a baseboard heater under an electrical outlet, and the minimum amount of clearance between the system and curtains, comforters, etc. must always be respected.

It’s not always easy to determine the best spot where to install the thermostat or the electric baseboard heater. A professional’s help might be really useful.

Need an electrician for your heating system?

Even though installing an electric baseboard heater might seem simple, it must be connected to a properly situated thermostat. Keep in mind that running the wires in the walls and connecting them to the electrical appliance should always be done by a qualified electrician, especially when it comes to properly installing a heating system.

Maximize Efficiency

According to Hydro-Québec statistics, a dwelling’s heating and air conditioning account for 54% of the overall household energy consumption. By favouring certain habits, one can save without so much as compromising their comfort.

Before turning up the thermostat, take a second to go through the following tips. They’ll allow you to get the best out of your heating system.

  • It’s useless to turn the thermostat up high at first to quickly warm up a room, it won’t have an impact, whatsoever. It’ll warm up in due time!

  • During winter, lowering the temperature by one degree is enough to lower your heating costs.

  • Unoccupied rooms should be kept sealed and their temperature lowered by a few degrees. This small, sensible gesture won’t affect your daily comfort in any way.

  • Have electric thermostats installed, prioritizing rooms where baseboard heaters are most used. After a year, this could lower your heating costs by 10%. Your electrician will be equipped to help you choose the ones that are compatible with your equipment.

Silence Noisy Baseboard Heaters

While crackling sounds are typically caused by dust in or on the device, small popping and humming noises are caused by metal reacting to sudden temperature changes. The metal expanding and contracting is what causes these noises.

For those with acute hearing, here are some solutions to make your baseboard heaters quit hissing:

  • Turn the power off before loosening the screws to allow the metal to shrink or expand freely. While the sound you hear is often due to the heating unit’s faulty installation, it can also be caused by installing the baseboard on a warped or uneven wall.

  • Turn the power off and check the metal fins. If they’re bent, twisted or stuck, or if they're rubbing against one another, then straighten them out.

  • Vacuum inside and out, and clean the heating coils.

Nothing’s working? If your baseboard heaters are undeniably too noisy and their efficiency is no longer up to par, it may simply be a sign that it's time to replace them. Take comfort in the fact that the cost of installing a new unit is relatively cheap compared to most heating devices.

Practical & Cost-Effective: Baseboard Heater Thermostats

Electric baseboard heater or electric radiator thermostat

Source: Canva

One of the best practices to adopt to save money is to set the temperature at the optimal degree. By lowering the temperature when you're away for the day or the weekend, you'll reduce your energy consumption without even realizing it.

Otherwise, Hydro-Québec suggests keeping the temperature between 19°C and 21°C in high-foot traffic rooms, and between 16°C and 18°C in bedrooms at night. Cooler temperatures also facilitate a good night's sleep. Lowering the temperature further could lead to the build-up of condensation and eventually mould growth.

Replacing most bimetal thermostats with electronic thermostats is encouraged. The latter, whether programmable or not, are more precise than knob thermostats and allow you to accurately set the temperature in each room. They ensure optimal comfort while allowing you to save money.

According to Hydro-Québec, this can result in savings of up to $100 per year, or a 10% drop in utility bills.

If you can't replace all of your thermostats, start by changing the ones in the most heavily trafficked rooms, especially in open-plan homes. Have a licensed electrician install the new thermostats.

Smart thermostats that are connected to Wi-Fi are also worth looking into. Besides optimizing temperature settings, they can detect various problems and send alerts: carbon monoxide leaks, smoke, issues with heating systems or appliances, etc. A smart thermostat costs between $150 and $250 and must be installed by a professional.

*Beware of compatibility issues between certain baseboard heaters and certain electronic thermostats: To avoid having to go back to the hardware store, it’s best to check with the manufacturer or consult an electrician.

Uncover All Types & Features of Modern Electric Baseboard Heaters

Cleverly concealed in a sleek, modern casing, with a removable front panel for easy maintenance, shock-proof material, high-performance compact design, an upward opening feature to heat window panes, and a wide range of colours... The electric baseboard heaters' list of new features is sure to please.

The traditional model, which is available at hardware stores and is economical, simple and quick to install, has the added bonus of a natural, low-noise convection and an ultra-durable finish. In the same category, the Eclipse Smart-Heat baseboard heater makes a strong statement with its desirable features: a sleek, compact design at almost half the length. With its upward air outlet, it warms up faster for greater comfort. And, it’s equipped with an ultra-precise electronic thermostat that maintains a constant temperature and guarantees savings of up to 33% in terms of heating costs.

At specialized stores, like Ouellet’s for example, their ODL series boasts a combination of efficiency and sophistication. Since the electric baseboard heater remains a must-have, the Quebec-based company has made a point of giving it back its rightful place. Available in a variety of shades and with a sleek appearance, the modern electric baseboard heater meets the requirements of the most refined aesthetic. With its screw-free façade and latch-operated casing, it's also designed with the safety of toddlers in mind.

Modern electric baseboard heaters have a lot to offer. Note that prices vary significantly from one unit to another, as they do from one system to another. It's important to set a budget and take the time to shop around for the best deal. Request quotes from different vendors, and ask electricians for their rates. You may be surprised at the savings available.

Here are some baseboard heater prices to compare!

Electric baseboard heater or electric radiator systems

Electric baseboard heaters are still the most common type of heating system used today. Since electricity comes from a renewable source, prices remain relatively consistent. In Quebec, since 1960, prices have spiked in line with inflation, while oil and gas prices have risen unpredictably and are subject to significant ups and downs.

Key figures:

  • The cost of a baseboard heater varies between $50 and $300; budget between $700 to $2,000 to heat the entire house (average sized house, about 2,400 sq. ft.).

  • The cost of having an electrician install baseboard heaters is estimated at $1,800 (the hourly rate for an electrician ranges from $90 to $130).

  • The cost of a convector varies between $350 and $400; a typical house (2,400 sq. ft.) would cost between $2,500 and $4,000.

  • In 2021, the average annual cost of heating (for all 100% electric systems), for an average-sized home, was $1,473 according to Natural Resources Canada (energy costs of natural gas for the same period was $1,448).

  • The cost of an electric furnace runs between $2,400 and $3,600, and your electrical bill will probably be quite similar to what you would pay if you were heating with baseboard heaters only.

  • Installation costs for a gas system, including appliances and connections, range from $4,000 to $7,000.

  • The cost of heating, with a heat pump (still for a 2,400 sq ft house), will run around $950 annually. However, note that the initial cost isn’t the same, since to install a wall-mounted heat pump, one must spend between $2,500 and $3,500. You also have to budget substantial amounts for installation. Lastly, keep in mind that when temperatures outside drop dramatically, the heat pump generally requires a supplementary heating system.

*Average costs in Quebec in 2021

Other worthy mentions… 

According to Hydro-Québec, the average monthly bill when it comes to 1000kWh of consumption per month is $73. In comparison, the same 1000 kWh/month costs $139 in Toronto, $306 in New York, and $334 in Boston (Source: Journal de Montréal, December 2022).

Inquire about the subsidies offered!

In an effort to promote the use of renewable, green energy, the provincial government is offering the Chauffez-Vert program through Energy Transition. This subsidy is designed to help homeowners save up to $1,275 by replacing a central oil furnace heating system with a green energy source (electricity). If we consider that it takes an average of six electric baseboard heaters to heat a home, a grant like this one would cover up to 70% of the installation costs.

Basically, a cursory look at the evolution of heating costs over the course of the last few decades shows that electricity is the only commodity that has consistently increased (in price) in line with inflation. In addition to being environmentally friendly, electricity is a reliable resource that is easier to predict long-term!

Get 3 renovation quotes for your electric baseboard heater project can help you get quotes for your electric baseboard heater project. If you submit your project to us, we’ll put you in contact with top-rated contractors. Fill in the form on the homepage (it only takes a few minutes), and you will get estimates from trusted professionals. 

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Last modified 2023-11-07

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