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A question about heating the house

MartinMartin Registered User regular
edited November 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey guys, my roomates an I are having a bit of a disagreement about which is cheaper.

We're using electric baseboard heating in a reasonably sized, one story, 4 bedroom apartment. Myquestion is whether is cheaper to leave the heat on low all day and then turn it up when you want it a bit warmer, or if it's cheaper to start from 0 when you want some heat.

For instance, one guys leaves his heat on all night so it's warm in the morning, where as I'll just turn the heat on in my room before I go to take a shower, and it's toasty in about 5 minutes in my room. Same for the rest of the house, it really doesn't take any amount of time to heat at all.

Anyway, let me know. And it's Nova Scotia we're dealing with, so it's pretty chilly outside.

Martin on


  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Well, I'm no physics major, but it seems to me that it would take a whole helluva lot more energy to keep the house warm all day (while you're constantly bleeding off heat into the outside) than it would to heat up the house when you're home.

    Thanatos on
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I agree with above statement. This is how it seems to me. At least at my house we don't do the heat all the time thing, it's off for the majority of the time, and I trust my parents judgment/years of looking at increasing heating prices.

    Shazkar Shadowstorm on
  • zhen_roguezhen_rogue Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    First and foremost, you don't want any part of the house to get below 55°F if at all possible.
    This will prevent freezing plumbing pipes, and also prevent water condensate forming in your walls and subfloor when you heat up "from 0" (which can lead to mold).

    I'd suggest setting your baseboard heat to maintain a constant 55°-60°, and turning it up only "on demand" when you want more.
    Not only will you be more comfortable overall (less cold, quicker to heat up), but you'll prevent any possible damage to your apartment.

    As for what's "cheaper", I'd say it's a wash.
    It takes a LOT more energy to heat "from 0" than it does from 55 or 60, but then again, it uses a trickle of energy all day to maintain a constant lower temp.
    Sounds like 50/50 to me, but maybe try it both ways for a billing cycle each and see the cost results for yourself.
    Every home's thermal envelope and solar orientation differs, so trying both methods yourself and observing the results is really the only way to know for sure.

    Make sure you leave any shades or blinds OPEN during the day, to maximize solar gain.
    At night, close the shades and blinds to get a small insulation value from the dead air space between the shades and the window pane.

    zhen_rogue on
  • Steve BennettSteve Bennett Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    I garuntee, 100%, that it is cheaper to turn down the heaters, than to leave them at room temperature all the time, and cheaper still to turn it off completely. I do agree with the idea of just turning it down rather than off as zhen_rogue says, for the same reasons he says.

    Programmable thermostats allow you to specify lower temperatures during the night and when you're out of the house. There is a reason for this. I'm sure quantified research results are available somewhere too.

    Your wallet and hordes of environmentalists will thank you for this.

    Steve Bennett on
  • SonarSonar Registered User regular
    edited November 2007
    Any heater technician will tell you that it's cheaper to maintain the heat than to turn it on. It also is a lot easier on the unit as the unit doesn't have to work as hard to heat the house. My room mate keeps breaking our AC because he keeps turning it off. When I come home and it's 90 in the house, turning the AC on puts a lot of strain on the unit.

    The unit uses the most energy that it will use on a cold start. If you are using the heater on a daily basis you are using 40 to 60% of your total energy cost on going from zero. Your heater will be most efficient maintaining a single temperature with little variation. This comes from talking to a lot of AC techs. It works for heaters too folks.

    Sonar on
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