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justmiller

05:10AM | 07/13/00
Member Since: 07/12/00
2 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
I have a two story frame house built in 1977 and heated by baseboard electric heaters. The last couple of years our electric bill has really skyrocketed. I suspect the problem may be with one or more of these heaters. Is there a method for testing them to determine if they are up to specs and how effecient they may be?

Alternately, would it be wise to seek an alternative to baseboard electric such as a heat pump system? As stated earlier, this is an all electric house and there is no ductwork installed. So I'm assuming the cost will be pretty high. But if the savings will justify the cost it may be something I would have to consider.

rpxlpx

10:10AM | 07/13/00
Member Since: 03/13/00
1678 lifetime posts
Heat pumps are only effective and practical in certain climates. Whether one would be good for most people depends on location. However, the lack of an air handling system would probably kill the idea for you, regardless. Better get some professional advice if you want to change to another type of heating system.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited July 20, 2000).]

HOLLYWOOD

01:47AM | 07/19/00
Member Since: 02/19/00
206 lifetime posts
Regardless of the dust and dirt on the existing electric baseboard, the heaters are 100% efficient. All power consumed is transfered into heat, Thus 100%. If you can get ahold of an clamp on Ammeter you will be able to test every supply feed to the switch to see if it is drawing any current. This may explain your higher bills. Also, don't forget that the power company will sometimes pro-rate your consumption of electricity until an actual reading of your meter can be done by them....Ask if you bill has been pro-rated......

Good Luck

rpxlpx

03:51AM | 07/20/00
Member Since: 03/13/00
1678 lifetime posts
You said your bill has skyrocketed. You didn't mention your actual usage. Is it pretty much unchanged for the same months of the year? (If you don't have old bills, your power company can tell you.)
Question for HOLLYWOOD: I've been led to believe that electric water heater elements lose their efficiency as minerals build up on the elements. Can you verify this - correct or not?
thanks

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited July 20, 2000).]

justmiller

04:46AM | 07/20/00
Member Since: 07/12/00
2 lifetime posts
First of all, thanks to Hollywood and rpxlpx for your input. I do have a clamp on ammeter that I will use as suggested to see the results. Nearly all of our readings have been actual vs estimated. And those that are estimated have been in line with other billing months.

My suspicion is that the problem may be in the thermostats. I had already replaced the most likely candidates with electronic, auto-sensing thermostats two years ago. They have made no difference in resolving my problem. I live in south central PA where the winters are not overly severe and the summers not all that hot. I am in a heavily treed lot which helps use in the summer to keep our cooling costs down. In the winter we make an effort to keep the thermostats turned down to 70 in those areas which we use most. In those other areas we set them at 65. At night they are set even lower. Often we wear sweaters and cover with blankets in the evening just to stay comfortable and yet our electric bill seems higher than it should be. I have a timer on a five year old, high efficiency water heater and extra insulation.

Short of replacing the heaters weÕve made several adjustments to try to be more efficient and yet be comfortable. At this point, I think it comes down to replacing all heaters and thermostats or to test the units to replace any defective units. Thus my initial question. I donÕt have a lot of money to throw at the problem, so I want to try to resolve it myself. If I canÕt, then IÕd like to determine whether it would be economically wise in the long run to spend $6k to get a heat pump system installed or replace all the heaters and thermostats with newer, more efficient units. IÕve not followed the technological advances of baseboard electric heating to know enough whether I should consider a change. And who do I trust, the electric company or the heating contractors?

rpxlpx

10:18AM | 07/20/00
Member Since: 03/13/00
1678 lifetime posts
Don't know if this may help, but if you're willing to adjust your activities, your power company may have an offering like we have here with Carolina Power & Light. It's a peak-use option, where you pay more for power used during peak hours and less for power used during off-peak hours (essentially nights and weekends). They have 2 different packages. These don't work for everybody, but some love it and save money.
You can put a timer on your water heater, do laundry on weekends, etc.

[This message has been edited by rpxlpx (edited July 20, 2000).]

HOLLYWOOD

02:02PM | 07/20/00
Member Since: 02/19/00
206 lifetime posts
Reply for Rpxlpx:
Electric water heaters,....They will loose thair efficiency, but it's due to the crap that collects around the element itself. The element is still trying to heat the water, but due to calcium, lime deposits and the like,..it takes longer, (thus loss of efficiency). It's like your toaster,...When it's new the thing works great, but get crudd on th element, it not only smells:, but will not preform as before.
The electric baseboard may not heat as well due to the collection of dust, but the elements are still putting out the same wattage....
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