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Old 08-10-2008, 04:01 PM   #1
disalways
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Electric Baseboard Heating. Pros? Cons? too expensive? okay now since oil is $$?

I'm looking for a new place to rent, and today I saw a nice place that had electric baseboard heating. I know nothing at all about electric heat... I've always had oil heat.

Tell me what you know. Is it too expensive? or with the oil prices being what they are right now, would the electric be about the same or better? Also, is it true that you cannot put any kind of furniture near the electric baseboard heat? If so, what do you with beds, dressers, china cabinets? I'm up in New England in CT... so I will be heating all winter long.
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:07 PM   #2
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I don't know about the cost of it, but it is true that you can't place things near it. It works sort of like a bread toaster, so anything you don't want near one of those you also want to keep away from the baseboard heater. Usually they are only along one wall, so you put your sofa/other furniture away from there. If you put it in front of it, not only does it create a potential fire hazard, it also blocks the heat from reaching the rest of the room.
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Old 08-10-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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We had this type of heating about 15 years ago in our condo. It was very expensive! It cost fortune to keep it at barely 60 degrees in the house and we live where it doesn't snow. We paid more per month during the winter then than we do now to heat our house with a gas forced air heater. It just doesn't warm up very fast. We ended up buying a small electrical heater, going into the extra bedroom with the door closed, and just heating up that one room. I don't know if it is cheaper than some other form of heating, but for us in CA it was terrible.
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Old 08-10-2008, 05:20 PM   #4
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It could be expensive if electic is high in your area and you use lots of BTUs. One big pro is that each room is a different zone. You could turn off or down the rooms not being used and keep the bathroom warm and the door closed.
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:13 PM   #5
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We have it here in Massachusetts for a large ranch. Our worst winter bill is about $400 and includes cooking and hot water. The thing that will make all the difference is really the age of the rest of the building. With decent windows and weatherstripping, it's likely to work out about the same as oil this year. As a new renter, you may not be able to get a budget plan, so you'll need to be prepared for high winter bills.

Also, if you can get the landlord to install (or let you install) programmable thermostats, it will really help. Program the heat down to 60 degrees when you leave in the morning and until an hour before you get home - that will really help. A previous poster is correct that it may seem like they take a long time to warm up. The heaters themselves will get hot quickly but the heat has to disseminate from a small area to a large air mass, so it can be a while before it feels really warm.

The electric company should be able to give you the usage figures for the past year to help you estimate the bills. Also remember that if you don't use air conditioning in the summer, your winter electric bills are higher - more time at home, longer lighting hours, more oven use and your water coming into the hot water heater at a colder temperature - so a portion of the increase will happen even if it's not your heating source.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 08-10-2008, 08:06 PM   #6
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I had electric baseboard heat in my 2 bed apartment in NE before I bought my house. I loved it. I never needed to heat the kitchen (it was connected to the living room) or the bathroom. When I went to bed I simply turned the living room unit way down and adjusted hte bedroom to my liking. I can't remember what my bill was, but with the cost of oil this year I am actually considering switching from oil to electic baseboard
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Old 08-10-2008, 11:13 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of your thoughts... I am still trying to figure out whether or not to make an offer for rent. The whole heating cost is such a big factor... ugh! What to do?
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Old 08-10-2008, 11:17 PM   #8
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I asked my realtor to ask the renting broker about placing things near the baseboard heating, and this is what she just emailed me:

"I heard back from the broker regarding the heating units. She said she has been renting this house for years and has never had any compliants about putting furniture up against them. I think it will be OK.
Thanks."

So, what do you think? Would you worry about a bed, or china cabinet being against an electric baseboard heating element? Sounds like they have had no issues.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:00 AM   #9
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That is crazy wrong advice unless you want a house fire. You shouldn't put anything against them as they get really hot. That includes hanging curtains. I melted DD's fisher price farm on our rental unit - that was a new baseboard. The toy wasn't even touching it, it had just been pushed too close while vacuming.
Our house also has very old baseboards, they take up the whole freaking wall. I hate them so much that the circuts are all flipped off. I'd rather use the wood stove, space heater or layer clothing than lose the floor space.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:33 AM   #10
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Are you sure they are electric baseboards then? I was looking at a house (with a friend - she was looking for her) with baseboard heating but I asked about it and was told it wasn't electric baseboard. It was oil heat; works like a radiator but looks like a baseboard. It also ran the entire length of the wall but I was told you can put things up against it since it wasn't electric. I'd never heard of that kind of heater before, but could it be that?
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Old 08-11-2008, 07:49 AM   #11
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These baseboards do run the length of the walls... they are long. And some rooms have two of these baseboards running along their walls. When I saw the house yesterday I was looking around the rooms trying to figure out where I would put the furniture as there seems to be no wall space if you cannot place things against the heating elements... and that was why I asked my realtor to ask the other broker. I have the listing sheet here and is states Heat, Rad/Electric. Water Heat, Electric. They also give a price of the average electric bill over a 12 month period, which was $314.75. So nearly $4000 a year for electricity... but no other costs... does that sound good?

I think I will go there tonight and turn on the heat and see what the radiators feel like before I decide on this place.
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Old 08-11-2008, 09:28 AM   #12
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Live in Upsate NY and had electric basebord heating in two of my apts. You cannot put things too close to the baseboards because they will melt, back of sofa got kind of brittle--like dry rot while placed about 4 inches from wall. The only utility bill I had was electric in both places then it was around $300 per month in the winter and like $85 in the summer. You can adjust rooms that you are not in so that helps to keep costs down, but occasionally I'd forget to turn them down. Honestly I didn't love it, and the cost of heating, cooling, cooking, running a pool pump,waher dryer and everything we do in a three bedroom colonial with attached garage and full basement costs me the same in energy today as the two bedroom apts. did in the 1990's.
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Old 08-11-2008, 09:39 AM   #13
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I think it's ok in an apartment because you will be heating a relatively small space, but I've also had it in a house and I hated it! Cons for me were mostly cost and the fact that it seems harder to regulate. I spend most of my time either too hot(mostly too hot) or too cold. I agree with being careful about items nearby, as well as caution with kids and pets. The baseboards are hot to the touch!
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Old 08-11-2008, 09:54 AM   #14
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alot times the electric company can give you the avg cost, for an address. And sometimes this is something the owner will provide for you.

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Old 08-11-2008, 09:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkBudgie View Post
We had this type of heating about 15 years ago in our condo. It was very expensive! It cost fortune to keep it at barely 60 degrees in the house and we live where it doesn't snow. We paid more per month during the winter then than we do now to heat our house with a gas forced air heater. It just doesn't warm up very fast. We ended up buying a small electrical heater, going into the extra bedroom with the door closed, and just heating up that one room. I don't know if it is cheaper than some other form of heating, but for us in CA it was terrible.
The only thing worse is what I had in No. California - electric heat in the ceilings - how dumb is that? Plus when the panels went out there were no replacement parts and you were stuck with a room with no heat.

Fortunately I was going thru the change and had my own personal heat source for a couple of years.
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