Choosing A Heating Source: Is Baseboard Or Forced Hot Air Best For You?

Posted on: 20 April 2016

Keeping your home warm and toasty is probably one of your highest priorities in the winter, especially if you live in a cold climate like Maine. The heating system you choose effects your family's comfort as well as your wallet. While forced hot air may seem like a good choice because it produces heat quickly, there are other things to consider if you are debating between forced hot air and electric baseboard heat. Consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Temperature Control

You overall comfort is a major concern when choosing a heating system. Both offer some features that improve your comfort.

  • Forced Hot Air
    • Immediate Heat: Forced hot air systems produce almost immediate heat and can raise the temperature in your home quickly. When you return home from work on cold day, or return from outdoor excursions, turning up the thermostat will produce hot air within minutes.
    • Temperature Fluctuations: Forced hot air produces more fluctuations in the room temperature as it shuts off the heating portion when the temperature reaches the setpoint of your thermostat, but it continues to blow the remainder of the hot air through the ductwork. This may raise the temperature a few degrees, depending on your system and the size of your rooms. It will not kick back on until the temperature drops below the set temperature. This may produce a roller coaster effect in temperature.
    • Cold Drafts: You may notice cold air coming from your heating vents between heating cycles. This can create a cold draft near the floor.
  • Baseboard Heat
    • Slower to Heat Up: Baseboard heat takes longer to heat the home. If you return home on a cold day, turning up the heat will not produce immediate heat. It will take longer for the heat to radiate through the home and raise the temperature to the desired level. You can combat this by using a programmed thermostat to warm the home before your expected return.
    • Consistent Heat: Because baseboard heating radiates heat from the source, you get more consistent heat than from forced hot air.
    • Cold Drafts: You may experience cold drafts around windows and doors, but the heating system does not produce cold drafts. If you have your home well-insulated and have weatherproofed your doors and windows, cold drafts should not be an issue.

Humidity Levels

Dry air in the winter is a problem in many homes. It can cause allergies, respiratory ailments and nosebleeds. In addition, it makes the temperature of the room feel cooler than it would if there was more moisture in the air. In fact, a temperature of 75 degrees with a humidity level of 20% feels the same as 70 degrees with a humidity level of 80%, says Infoplease .

  • Forced Hot Air: Forced hot air systems are notorious for creating dry air. This may cause health ailments, dry skin and a general feeling of discomfort. Many suffer from a dry mouth and throat when sleeping in a room with forced hot air in the winter.
  • Baseboard Heat: Although any heat source has the potential to deplete the air of moisture, baseboard heat does not dry the air to the extent forced hot air does.

Other Considerations

Consider these additional facts about forced hot air and baseboard heating.

  • Forced hot air systems require ductwork leading from the furnace to other areas of the house. Ductwork can lead to other issues, such as air leaks into unheated areas of your home.
  • Electric baseboard heat does not require an additional fuel source, like many hot air systems do.
  • Vents and registers for forced hot air systems can get hot and may pose a risk for small children, whereas, the hot water pipes for baseboard heat are typically well-covered to prevent injuries.
  • The cost of operating baseboard heat and forced hot air systems varies depending on the system, the size and condition of your home and electric and/or fuel rates in your location.

If you have further questions or concerns about whether baseboard or forced air heat is right for you, call your local contractor, someone like Feldman Brothers Electrical Supply Co. He can offer suggestions tailored to your needs and your home.