Replace baseboard heaters w/force hot air (Cadet-style) heaters?


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Old 09-29-22, 06:08 AM
J
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Replace baseboard heaters w/force hot air (Cadet-style) heaters?

Hi! This question pertains to a 1,200sf chalet-style house (in Vermont) where the bedrooms are on the lower level. Currently the lower level (~500sf) has bb heat throughout (in each bedroom, in the bathroom, and in the hallway). These make up the bulk of our electricity usage. From Dec-Mar, we average just under 3,000 kwh and then (skipping April and November as transitional months) from May-Oct we use 500kwh on average.

Since we are billed 17 cents per kwh, bills during Jan-Mar could be as high as $600.

BB heaters (all 240v):
  • bedroom 1: 750w (tiny bedroom)
  • bedroom 2: 1,500w x2 (3,000w) (wall-to-wall windows on both exterior walls)
  • bedroom 3: 1,500w
  • bath: 1,000w
  • hallway: 1,250w
Questioning pulling out all the bb heaters and replacing with one Cadet in-wall forced hot air heater for each of the 5 locations above. These would be the 240v 1,000w units.

Note that currently all bb heaters are tied to a central thermostat (Nest) in the hallway which is connected to a sensor in each bedroom. So the bb heaters all turn on when the thermostat calls for heat, and all turn off when the temp. is reached. My goal would be to keep this the same so that all of the Cadets are controlled by this single thermostat as well. Since these heaters are plug-in replacement, it's easy, but I do worry about one room (e.g. the small one) getting too hot.

The question is would I save (significant) money on energy costs with this change? Thought being that the forced hot air units would heat the space quicker than the bb heaters. Thank you.
 
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Old 09-29-22, 06:30 AM
C
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I don't think you will save any money on energy costs. You are still heating with resistance electric heat, and the energy to drive the fans actually reduces the overall efficiency (although it may improve comfort somewhat due to better distribution of the warm air).
To reduce energy costs of heating you can:

1. Reduce the number of BTU's needed.
2. Switch to more efficient heating equipment
3. Switch to a less expensive fuel source


Baseboard resistance electric heat is essentially 100% efficient; all the electricity is converted to heat.
You could consider switching to heat pump(s), which can have efficiencies well above 100%. However, the cost of the equipment and the fact that Vermont is likely a marginal area for even the newer heat pumps that work at very cold temperatures makes that a tough sell.

I would spend money on insulation and sealing air leaks as the first step. That reduces the number of BTUs required and improves comfort by reducing drafts.
 
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Old 09-29-22, 07:40 AM
J
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Thank you for your reply. Understood that bb is 100% efficient, but in my mind it seems like efficient use of the watts the device receives is only part of the equation. And that moving hot air around would require a shorter run time in general but I'm probably wrong!

Adding additional insulation certainly makes sense (honestly not sure if the framed out walls have insulation, need to confirm (new owner) -- the lower level is cinder block).

I would love to have a ducted heat-pump system but of course that'd be hard to retrofit. And I really wish that there were in-ceiling small (BTU-wise) cassettes for a mini-split system but they are all designed for rooms which are much larger than these. Luckily it is a post-framed house so I have ample space between the floors and between the beams, so using ceiling cassettes might be possible at some point in the future.
 
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Old 09-29-22, 09:45 AM
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It takes the same wattage to heat a room.
It doesn't matter if it heats quicker or slower.... the energy usage is the same.
 
 

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