U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Economics > Frugal Living
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
Old 09-08-2016, 08:09 AM
Location: Penobscot Bay, the best place in Maine!
1,891 posts, read 5,146,121 times
Reputation: 2627


I rent, so please don't offer any suggestions about switching over to oil, wood, propane or other heating systems- I don't have the ability to change the heating system here. If I did, I would be out cutting and stacking my wood instead of writing this question.

My question is... My apartment is basically one large "great" room (okay, so it's not that large- 16' by 35' ish, with a small kitchen off to the side), and 2 bedrooms. We don't heat the bedroom, so they are of little consequence to this equation. The windows are all very good as far as being well-sealed and not prone to heat loss, and the place is well insulated.
The apartment has electric baseboard heat and (I am not sure why), there are 2 different thermostats, each with 2 electric baseboards connected to them, in this same large room, each controlling one "side" of the room (but there are no walls or barriers, so the heat really all ends up in the same place).
The placement of the baseboards really limits where we can have furniture in the winter, and I would rather just use an electric forced-air space heater in the space.

Would it really be much more expensive to use a space heater than it is to use the electric baseboard heaters?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 09-08-2016, 09:46 AM
Location: midvalley Oregon and Eastside seattle area
2,898 posts, read 1,341,778 times
Reputation: 2410
Be careful of wattage of space heater. Wall circuits are generally limited 15 Amps per circuit.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-08-2016, 10:00 AM
28,383 posts, read 67,903,744 times
Reputation: 18188
The cost difference is probably not very large, the both convert kilowatts to heat with near perfect efficiency.What is an issue is the relative safety. speed & comfort of a well designed baseboard system -- ought to be far superior to any portable electric heater. Ideally the baseboard heat is wired to 220v which is literally capable of heating twice as quickly as any portable 110v appliance. The baseboard units also have some mass, so when they switch off they still radiate some heat unlike the portable unit that has no such advantage.

There are some other issues to consider as well. The biggest problem with a fan forced portable unit is that it has to operate at a fairly high temp to overcome what would otherwise be a "cooling effect" of the moving air. Essentially you are running a giant blow dryer. That fills the air with the scent of dust that is literally baked and also drives humidity to very low levels. A baseboard system can operate at a significantly lower temp and rely on convection that will be more gentle. The reason that there are two units is as much for safety (if one fails the apartment still has some heat AND there are two circuits to handle the load) as for practical matters -- if the wind is coming from one direction that wall will be cooler and that unit will need to work harder to keep the cold from making the room / apartment uncomfortable. The other safety aspect is that electric baseboard heat rarely causes house fires. No one in their right mind does other than buy UL listed units and has them installed by qualified electricians. The housings are designed to prevent any flammable material from ever getting hot enough to combust. Even if you put furniture very close to the baseboard unit there is path for for convection through the unit. That furniture may slow the passage of heat and make the unit run longer than it otherwise would but there are over-temp safeties that prevent any tragedy. Portable units are increasingly made in China where UL inspection is spotty, counterfeiting is rampant and safety is a bad joke. Even if the unit is internally "safe" where you place it may make it susceptible to unsafe use. Many home fires are caused by the poor placement of portable appliances. Extension cords are HUGE no-no, even walking over them bare foot can crush the conductors, wear down the insulation and lead to overheating / failure. Heaven forbid if a pet chews on the cord. Sparks and intermittent shorts are major cause of house fires. Though portable heaters are suppose to be tip switches and safety cut-off the reliability of these is inferior to any permanently mounted heater...

Pretty clear what the proper unit to use is!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-08-2016, 10:04 AM
Location: Sugarmill Woods , FL
6,235 posts, read 5,384,329 times
Reputation: 13586
Have your landlord provide sufficient heat or find a new place to live. Electric heat has nothing to do with frugal!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-08-2016, 08:20 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,773 posts, read 37,441,293 times
Reputation: 20763
A BTU is a BTU and electric resistance heating is considered 100% 'efficient' (which does not mean 'effective')
When Is 100% Efficient Not Good Enough?

There are some different varieties of heaters that may best suit your configuration.

as mentioned the existing Baseboard SHOULD be 220V and wired in such a way to provided safe distribution of heat and use of power / circuits. I really prefer the performance oil filled electric heaters, and swapped out my std baseboard units for 'intertherm' oil baseboard heaters in a couple older homes I had. Oil radiators are usually good too.

place heaters where natural convection will aid in heat distribution (that is why registers are placed under windows, and return air in far corners of room.) Ceiling fans will help, as will 'curtains' to block unheated space.

Here is a good simple explanation and suggestions for conservation / improving your comfort.

I see you are in ME... seal the leaks! talk to energy provider to see if their are assistance programs,

Ask owner if they would consider updating windows / doors / insulation (usually a significant tax credit / or subsidy).

go to thrift store and get a nice wool blanket. I keep a few pair of LL Bean wool socks for winter 'house-slippers'.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-09-2016, 03:55 AM
3,454 posts, read 1,978,113 times
Reputation: 7830
I have a 12'x12' bonus room with an 8' heat strip {electric heat baseboard}.

I set it to keep it at 50F all the time as BACK UP to an infared space heater or oil-filled fined radiator style electric heater.

Quite simply, it is expensive to run the heat strip, and the space heaters work well to keep it at 65-70F all the time, often shutting off for periods at a much lower cost.

AS long as they do the job, except the negative digit temperature nights, the 8' heat strip NEVER kicks on and burns electricity.

The oil filled finned heater was about $30,and the infared i got on summer clearance for $49.

You'd need a couple I think for a 30+foot room.

Best of luck keeping warm if we have a cold bitter winter...
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-09-2016, 08:15 PM
5,598 posts, read 4,204,310 times
Reputation: 10547
You are dependent on converting electrical power into heat. It makes virtually no difference which heater you use. Unless you cut back on the overall heat and sit in front of some sort of radiant heat, you will pay the same amount.

There are all sorts of nonsense claims about "Amish" heaters or oil filled heaters or whatever. Again, nothing will make a difference. You could just as efficiently heat your place with tungsten light bulbs.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-10-2016, 02:24 AM
64,507 posts, read 66,075,955 times
Reputation: 42955
technically oil filled retains the heat better once the heater shuts off . the elements cool down rather quickly in the heater so the oil filled add a degree of extra heat retention .

baseboard can do a bit better job than space heaters usually because if you install them right they should be on an outside wall . the heat forms a barrier making it more difficult for the cold air to get past it when on .

space heaters are just that , they heat just a particular small area best .

baseboard works best in big rooms ,space heaters in small rooms .
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-10-2016, 09:18 AM
Location: North Idaho
20,998 posts, read 25,737,156 times
Reputation: 39352
It costs exactly the same to produce the same amount of heat, no matter what sort of electric you heat with.

However, with that understanding, I recommend the oil filled radiators. I think they distribute the heat more evenly and they are a lot safer than some of the other heaters that get hot enough to start fires. Safer and the heat is more even, plus they take up a small space.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-10-2016, 09:32 AM
64,507 posts, read 66,075,955 times
Reputation: 42955
yes it cost the same to produce electric heat regardless but with some like the oil filled you get to fly the empty seats a bit . the oil tends to stay hotter longer than the fins do directly once the heat goes off on the stat .

i was surprised how much longer the oil stayed warmer once the heat was off . but they are slower to warm up so costs are about the same to run

Last edited by mathjak107; 09-10-2016 at 09:41 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Economics > Frugal Living
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top