Part Three in the Series: Electric Heating is Bad

We already addressed two common myths surrounding Ductless Heat Pumps in these past two blog posts here and here. Now it is time to move on to the next myth.

3. Electric Heat is Bad.

There are many who subscribe to the idea that consciously choosing to heat one’s home or business with electric heat is a bit crazy. And this might be true if you were considering installing electric baseboard, wall heaters, or even an electric furnace.

Electric baseboard heaters found in many older homes may appear efficient at first glance, but these units actually serve as one of the most expensive and inefficient heating options for the average homeowner. Like other forms of electric resistance heating, electric baseboard and wall heaters offer 100 percent efficiency. That means 100 percent of the electricity consumed by these heaters is used to produce heat. This may sound great at first, but it can also seem deceiving. As of March 2013, it costs $34.57 to generate one million BTU’s of heat using electric baseboard heating, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

And electric furnaces aren’t much better. The same million BTU’s generated by a high efficiency electric furnace cost $17.30. But electric furnaces can sometimes be even more expensive to operate than other electric resistance systems because of their duct heat losses and the extra energy required to distribute the heated air throughout your home, which is common for any heating system that uses ducts for distribution. Heated air is delivered throughout the home through supply ducts and returned to the furnace through return ducts. If these ducts run through unheated areas, they lose some of their heat through air leakage as well as heat radiation and convection from the duct’s surface. So $17.30 for a new, efficient system may be being optimistic.

That same report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration listed gas furnaces at around $13- $20 per MBTU (million BTU) and propane heaters at around $17.

So that might start to make electric heat sound kinda bad, right? Or at least on the higher end in terms of cost for most.

However, the above electric systems use electricity in a much different way than a Ductless Heat Pump. They use electricity to create heat, and this simple fact makes all the difference.

Saves energy and feels good too!

Ductless Heat pumps use electricity in a seemingly magic way, to move heat from one place to another and even upgrade the temperature of that heat in the process. They perform this magic by extracting heat from a place that’s cold, the outdoor air in winter, and delivering it to a place that’s a lot warmer, inside your home or business. This process also works in reverse when you are in need of cooling in the summer months.

For every one unit of energy consumed (as electricity), two to three units of energy (as heat) are delivered. (That’s 200-300 percent efficiency if you are taking notes). This makes heat pumps significantly less expensive to operate than traditional resistance electric heaters, or even oil, propane, gas or wood heating systems in terms of dollars per delivered unit of heat. And that cost per MBTU that we talked about earlier? Well, for a 12 SEER Ductless Heat Pump it is $8.

Check out the numbers. They don’t lie. Electric Heat is not ALL bad now, is it?


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