Is Electric Baseboard Heating Cleaner and Cheaper?

Electric baseboard heat cost calculator

The following table shows the average cost per unit to install electric baseboard heaters.

Average baseboard heater cost per unit
National average cost $800
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $3,000
Average cost range $300 to $1,100

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Are new baseboard heaters more efficient?

The answer to that may surprise you.

“All of the electric heaters in the market regardless of the age of release can convert electricity to heat at 100% efficiency in terms of possible conversion of energy by this method,” according to . “That’s why the replacement of a new baseboard heater is not going to save you energy.” 

Essentially, let your landlord (if you’re renting), replace them. Or better yet, consider installing radiant floor heating or a ductless heat pump powered by gas and saving you hundreds of dollars. 

Electric Baseboard vs Wall Heater

Wall heaters heat a room quickly but rely on a fan to circulate the air, and a baseboard heater uses convection. Many wall heaters offer variable temperature settings and come with an electrostatic or HEPA filter to help keep the home’s air cleaner. Electric models average $400 to $650 depending on size, and a wall heater averages $450 to $800.

The fan can be noisy in a wall heater, especially if you are using it in a bedroom. Another consideration is that a wall heater lasts only 8 to 12 years, but a baseboard unit will easily make it 20 years if kept clean. A wall unit is more energy-efficient than an electric unit. Wall models tend to heat up in just a few minutes, while it can take up to an hour for a baseboard unit. Baseboard heaters are cool to the touch, which may not be the case for a wall heater. Finally, an electric unit needs free space near the floor, while wall units need additional wall space, often near a window.

TypeCost (Installed)Electric Baseboard$400 - $650W

TypeCost (Installed)
Electric Baseboard$400 – $650
Wall Heater$450 – $800

Baseboard Heating Replacement Costs

The replacement costs of a baseboard heating system are relatively minimal. Replacing an old furnace can cost thousands of dollars, while replacing an electric baseboard heater costs around $100 – $200, depending on the model.

When none of the wiring or thermostat needs to get replaced, it’s very inexpensive. What’s more, it can get done in an hour or two by one electrician.

Although an electric furnace or baseboard heater might be cheaper to install than gas, oil, or propane, electricity usually costs more than those fuels.

Try our electricity cost calculator to determine approximately how much the electricity will cost for a baseboard heating system.

Cost to Replace Electric Baseboard Heater

You’ll need to have the old HVAC system removed by a professional. An HVAC installer will charge $75 to $150 per hour to remove a previous heating system. The amount of time it takes to remove the old system varies and depends on the size of the unit. An HVAC professional can install an electric baseboard heater, or you can opt to have an electrician install the unit for a price of $40 to $100 per hour.

They are fairly resilient as long as they are maintained and cleaned regularly. However, if you experience difficulty with heating the room and your unit is older, it may be time to consider replacing it. An electric baseboard heater replacement may be slightly less expensive as the old unit is already wired and ready to go. If you have an HVAC system, it can become costly to repair, and it may not make sense to spend money on an older system.

Talk to local pros to get quotes for your electric baseboard heater installation

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Cost to install a baseboard heating system

There are a few expenses involved in installing electric baseboard heating systems. You’ll have to pay for the heater, installation labour, and installation supplies. According to American home repair website Homewyse, the typical installation costs between $400 and $800 per unit. 

The total cost will depend on a few things; how much you want to spend on the unit and the typical labour costs electricians charge in your city. 

Like any major home purchase, you should check out technician reviews and get quotes before deciding which service to use. As for the heater, shop around for the best deal and research the ideal heaters for your situation and budget. 

How Do Baseboard Heating Systems Work?

Even homeowners who’ve had electric baseboard heating for years often don’t understand how their home’s heating system works. So before you can understand the pros and cons of baseboard heating, take a few minutes to ask: what is baseboard heating and how does it work?

Electric baseboard heating systems — also known as electric resistance heating — is a form of zone heating that individually creates and controls the temperature in each room of your home. There are no furnaces, boilers, heating ducts, vents or blowers involved in distributing the heat. Each baseboard unit houses a heating element that generates heat and then slowly releases it into the room where it’s located.

The term “baseboard heat” refers to the heater’s location along the bottom of the wall. The idea behind this location is that heat naturally rises so, by starting out along the floor, the heat slowly rises into the area between the floor and ceiling where you spend most of your time.

The Different Types of Baseboard Heat

There are different types of baseboard heat out there, such as gas baseboard heat and hydronic baseboard heat. You might have heard this referred to as hot water baseboard heat. These heaters send hot water through a series of copper coils located in baseboard units around the home. The water can be heated through your home’s boiler system. However, in this post, we’re addressing traditional electric baseboard heat.

Typically baseboard heaters are installed under windows and on perimeter walls of the home. This allows them to counteract the cold air radiating off the window glass, as well as the areas where the home’s greatest heat loss tends to happen. Electric baseboards are individually controlled, meaning each unit — and therefore each room — has its own thermostat. This can be beneficial if your family has disagreements about how warm — or cold — to keep the house in the winter. It’s also helpful because you can turn the heat down in rooms you don’t use often or up in rooms that tend to get drafty.

But Is Baseboard Heat Efficient?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question because it depends on a variety of factors. The overall efficiency of a baseboard heating system depends on its age, its condition and where you live. In most climates, an electric heat pump will operate with more overall efficiency than electric baseboard heaters. In fact, homeowners should see an approximately 50% decrease in electricity use once electric baseboard heaters aren’t being used anymore. This means monthly savings on their energy bill.

Everyone wants a more efficient — and less expensive — way to heat their home. If you don’t want to convert your home to central heating and cooling, the ductless HVAC system — also called a mini-split system — is a great way to get a more efficient system at a more economical price.

Learn more about Mini Splits

We’ll get into the details of the ductless system later in this article. But to understand its benefits, you should first understand the pros and cons of baseboard heat.

Wind Power and Insulated Shields

Don’t know how much wind you have out there in MD, but you might look into a windmill to generate electricity. I understand there are some that are much more efficient than solar cells of the same price. Besides, I bet you have more wind that you do sun there in the winter. Do your research!

Also, when we lived in a much colder climate, I sewed insulated roman shades for all our windows – with magnetic strips to get an airtight seal. They were actually not all that difficult, and although they require an initial investment of several hundred, they proved worthwhile in the long run. I took a class at a local fabric store (I have seen these courses offered all over the state) and then purchased the materials and sewed away. A bit of a project, but it completely cut out the draft and heat leakage from my windows Kept the house much more comfortable and the heat bills much lower. Barbara K.

Baseboard Heater Types

The two types of baseboard heaters are hydronic and convection. These look alike and perform alike. These units are slow space heaters, meaning although the unit heats up quickly, there is no fan or forced air system to blow the heat throughout the room.

There are two benefits inherent to these, no fan means very little noise, and it does not blow dust and pollen around the house.

Hydronic Baseboard Heater

The hydronic heater is oil-filled, so it does not rely on electricity. These are a little more expensive, but heat better, though slower than electric. These systems are a lot like steam radiators in that they heat up slower but maintain heat after the thermostat goes off.

Although the hydronic baseboard heater sometimes cost four times as much as an electric, it is less expensive to operate. Therefore, it will save you money long-term. These systems cost $300 – $350 per unit, and installation typically costs about $200 per unit. Keep in mind that this price varies for each project and other requirements and supplies needed.

Electric Baseboard Heater

Electric baseboard heaters cost around $75 – $100 and another $100 – $150 to install per unit. These are the least expensive and least efficient of the two. The electric baseboard heater warms up quickly, much like a toaster, the coils heat up and radiate outward. However, when the thermostat shuts down, it cools just as quickly.

These units are extremely reliable when the electric is on because there are no moving parts to break down. The only maintenance required is keeping it clean, and to have a technician check it once a year before heavy use to ensure no wires are burnt out.

How To Choose an Electric Baseboard Heater

Choosing the best electric baseboard heater mostly depends on the size of the space you need to heat, how energy efficient you want the heater to be, and your budget. Generally, an electric baseboard heater should have 10 watts of power for every square foot of space you need to heat. So a 100-square-foot room would need a 1,000-watt heater to serve as the primary heat source.

Hydronic baseboard heaters are significantly more energy efficient than convection because the warmed fluid keeps generating heat after the heater is shut off. In contrast, a convection heater’s metal fins cool off quickly. That means the convection heater needs to stay on longer to generate the same amount of heat as a hydronic heater. However, convection heaters are cheaper and available in a wider range of sizes and power ratings. They are also more commonly available as plug-in units.

Cons of Baseboard Heat

Although there are some notable benefits to electric baseboard heaters, they aren’t considered the most efficient or practical heat source on the market today. Why is that?

1. Cost

Is baseboard heating expensive? In general, electric baseboard heaters use more electricity than an electric heat pump. This means higher electric bills, especially in the coldest winter months when they’re working overtime to keep your home warm. The placement of baseboard heaters — near windows and exterior walls — can also work against you. If the thermostat on the unit senses cold nearby, such as drafts from old windows, it’s going to work even harder trying to keep the room warm. Why? It responds to the temperature nearest the thermostat. This can increase your energy expenses even more.

Some homeowners can save some money by keeping the heaters off in rooms where they don’t spend much time, but depending on the size of your home and how many people live there, this may not be an option.

2. Interior Design

By design, baseboard heaters take up valuable wall space in every room. They’re under windows and along exterior walls to mitigate the cold that passes through these parts of the home. Inevitably, this means you’ll find a long baseboard heater right where you’d like to put the couch or bed or dresser. Because electric baseboard heaters get hot, you should keep furniture and curtains at least 6 inches away from them to prevent a fire. The placement of the units and the need to keep them unobstructed can severely limit where you can place furniture and what kind of curtains you can safely hang. Long drapes are a big “no” on windows above a baseboard heater!

3. Safety Hazard

Electric baseboard heaters can get really hot when they’re on. The heating element itself gets hot, but the heater covers also get incredibly hot as well. If you have young children who are prone to sticking their fingers where they don’t belong, this can be dangerous. Parents naturally look for ways to hide or block safety hazards in their homes, but unfortunately, because you can’t put items over or in front of the heaters, there’s really no way to block them from a curious child. Because of this, young children in homes with electric baseboard heaters require constant monitoring to ensure that they’re safe at all times.

4. Dry Heat

We’re often asked: is baseboard heat dry? Electric baseboard heaters are notorious for producing an incredibly dry heat. Residents of homes with baseboard heaters may experience dry skin, dry throats, bloody noses and dry eyes, especially if they’re prone to these problems to begin with. Sometimes homeowners use a humidifier to compensate for the dry air in their home, but that requires more electricity, and it can be a pain to keep them clean and filled with fresh water.

5. Require Regular Cleaning

Anytime the system is forced to work harder or longer means an increase in energy costs. To keep baseboard heaters operating at their maximum efficiency, you must clean them regularly. The good news is they aren’t difficult to clean — all you need is a vacuum — but if dust begins to collect on the system, it will have to work harder to produce enough heat.

Finding and hiring a baseboard heat installer

When hiring an electrician or HVAC specialist for a baseboard heater installation, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates that include comparable equipment to compare.
  • Look for licensed contractors with experience installing baseboard heating units.
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select insured and bonded companies that have been in business for more than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask

  • What baseboard heater type and brand is included in the estimate?
  • Is the hydronic heater self-contained, or will it connect to my boiler or water heater?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • Do you charge an hourly or flat-rate fee to install a baseboard heater?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • How many baseboard heater installations have you completed in the last year?
  • May I have a copy of your insurance policy for my records?
  • Can you provide a list of references with contact information?
  • Do you guarantee your work or offer an extended warranty?

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