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Baseboard heating

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Sep 09, 2013, 10:06 PM
speez16
Baseboard heating
I posted earlier about wallpaper removal, I have another question about the same property.

The home is a bi-level in northern MN, so winters are cold.

I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to make my new house more energy efficent and lower electrical cost over the winter? I'm thinking of updating all baseboard heaters to new ones, the current ones are about 20 years old, Is that worth it? Also thinking about installing programmable thermostats. Will that make a difference?

I really appreciate the tips.

Thanks!
Sep 10, 2013, 10:26 AM
Jaybee
Baseboard heat (direct resistance) is the dinosaur of heating systems. While it will heat your house, the thing it's really good at is causing your electric meter to spin at epic speeds.

Yes, get rid of the baseboard heat but replace it with a more efficient heating system. (Easy to do since ANY system will be more efficient than baseboard). I'd make a few calls to local heating and air companies, get them to run some loads on your house and make some recommendations. Most likely, they will recommend a high efficiency gas furnace. While it will be expensive to make the change, your energy savings will get you payback in a reasonable number of years to make it all worthwhile.

Other areas to look at would be how well your windows are working to keep out the cold and how much insulation you have.

One good first step would be to invest about $500 in a decent energy audit. This would let you know where your problem areas are and give you the ability to prioritize how to fix them.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jaybee,


Jaybee
Sep 10, 2013, 10:39 AM
Sparky617
If you have gas, that is definitely the way to go. In really cold climates a high efficiency gas boiler and baseboard water or in-floor water heat is the most comfortable. However, you won't have duct work for air conditioning if you want that. In the south where I live these days baseboard water is unheard of because AC is our bigger concern.

Replacing your electric baseboard with new electric baseboard won't improve the efficiency one bit. If all you are looking to do is replace electric baseboard with more electric baseboard save your money the swap won't save you anything.

To make your house keep more of the heat inside you want to seal any penetrations into the attic. Insulate and seal the attic hatch. If possible pull the insulation back and seal around any wires and pipes that come into the attic. Seal around any light fixtures that are leaking air into the attic. Then beef up the insulation in the attic. Attic insulation is the cheapest to add and it will also give you the biggest bang for your buck. Then work on sealing leaks around windows, doors, pipes and/or wires that penetrate the exterior of the house. If you have a conditioned basement seal between the sill plate and the foundation. Install gaskets behind all your cover plates on outlets and switches on the exterior walls of the house.

A pressure test will really tell you where the air is leaking into and out of your house. The importance of sealing the leaks into the attic is the chimney effect will draw in air from all the leaks in your house and vent it up into your attic. Seal the way out and the air coming in slows down.


General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Sep 10, 2013, 04:10 PM
speez16
It's a lake cabin, it had propane but got removed. I'm not sure if gas in an option. What do you guys think about ductless heating and cooling? I don't really need AC just heat. Is there anything else out there that I can look in to?

Thanks
Sep 10, 2013, 05:51 PM
Sparky617
I like the ductless systems, there are several in my 12-16 year old neighborhood for heating and cooling finished attics. They are air to air heat pumps so with your MN location I'm not sure it would be your best heating option.

As a lake cabin, is it uninhabited a lot during the week so your main concern is keeping it from freezing while you're not there?

Without gas, and in a rural lake front area gas is unlikely propane, electric baseboard or oil heat are going to be your main options. A ground sourced heat pump is probably the most efficient option given your location but I doubt you'd recoup the equipment and installation costs. They are very expensive to install because you have to drill a series of wells to pull heat out of the ground. If you have a lot of rock you're paying to drill a couple hundred feet through rock to get the depth you need. They can also be done with trenches below below the frost line, again if you have a lot of rock it gets very expensive to trench.


General Disclaimer

Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.