How should I stay warm this winter?
October 25, 2009 8:40 PM Subscribe
Which is more efficient/economical to run: a baseboard heater or an oil-filled radiator-type space heater?
posted by apricot to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a Californian getting ready for my first winter in Massachusetts. My apartment has electric baseboard heaters. I have never had those before, and I'm worried my bill is going to be HUGE once it gets cold. It doesn't help that whenever I tell someone those are the heaters I have they dramatically wince and hiss through their teeth. Also, one of my neighbors said her bill was several hundred dollars a month last winter. I'm thinking an oil-filled radiator might be sufficient and a lot less expensive to run.
Bonus question: I have two cats, and would love to have a safer heating source to leave on if I'm going to be out for several hours or overnight. A different neighbor, who also has cats, says she leaves her heaters on when she's not home, but that seems really unsafe to me. Are baseboard heaters safe, or are the other ones safer?
Here are the details:
My living room is basically one big room with a doorway to the kitchen on one end. The living room and kitchen each have drafty old windows (both of which I have covered with that lovely plastic sheeting stuff, which has already helped a lot). There is a front door and a back door that both open up to unheated stairwells. I bought weatherstripping for the doors but haven't installed it yet. My apartment is on the top/second floor, with apartments below and on either side. The building was built in the 70s. The windows and heaters seem to date from then too.
There is one long baseboard heater underneath the window. It's controlled by a dial thermostat on the opposite wall near the kitchen and front door. I spend most of my time at my desk or on the couch, which are near one end of the heater, in the opposite corner from the thermostat. It seems like I could get a space heater to warm the corner where the cats and I spend the most time, and avoid having the baseboard heater running and heating the whole room. I'm an impoverished grad student, and am worried about having to pay huge chunks of my stipend to WMECO. Would it be less expensive to run the space heater, and would that be enough to keep me and the cats warm?
I used to live in a drafty old house in Portland, where the wind ripped the plastic sheets right off the windows and we kept the thermostat at 60, so I know the drill about bundling up indoors and am generally a hot person anyway, but I have never been through a New England winter and I don't know if my plan is realistic or not. Can anyone with experience chime in?