Electric Heating: What do you pay?

We’re looking at buying another house but found the house is fully heated with electric baseboard heating. We have no idea what the costs might be for this type of heat.

Do you heat with electric? Baseboard heating in particular? What are your average monthly hydro bills? What do you keep your home temperature at and what are your winters like? What size is your house?

If it matters, I’m in Northern Ontario with long, cold winters and the house is a ranch style at about 1050 sq. ft. with an unfinished basement. The basement does have a wood pellet stove so we’ll be using that but I doubt it will heat the entire house from down there (athough, granted, I have no clue about that either - maybe it will?)


I live in Virginia, have baseboard heat, and paid a maximum of $140 per month last winter. (Which was very cold here, in case you didn’t hear.)

I averaged about $300 a month from Nov to March for a similar size house in Northern Indiana. (That’s total electric usage heat only was probably about $200)

Resistance heating has a bad rep around here but I found it was probably a little cheaper than what people were paying for natural gas. It’s nice because you have a separate thermostat for each room you can turn down if you’re not going to be using it.

A friend of mine had a videography business, and he lived in the studio. It was a cinderblock structure, and he heated the front half of it (editing room, three other rooms, and the reception area) with baseboard heaters. Over a rather cool Winter here in the PNW, he was paying about $300/month for electricity.

In the coldest part of Winter, I pay about $140/month for propane plus about $90 for electricity, which includes two or three oil-filled radiator-style space heaters and all other electrical devices. I turn the heat all the way down (or off) at night and when I’m not in the house. One space heater is used to supplement the propane furnace when I’m in the living room. One space heater is turned on at night before I go to bed, and is turned off in the morning. If the temperature will be below 20ºF, I turn on the space heater in the littlest bedroom and shut the door to keep the pipes from freezing. I use a coil-and-fan space heater in the bathroom when I’m in it, and when it’s particularly cold out or if the bathtub drain has frozen.

More than half of all heating in Quebec is electric (I think I read 70%). What we have is hot water heating (with standard radiators) heated by electricity when the temp is -12 deg C and above that changes to oil heat below -12. With very cheap electricity here (about 5¢/kwh) we pay about $380/month during the winter (plus some for oil). In the summer our bills are under $100 (no AC). But we heat the whole house and keep the thermostat at 21.

I suspect electric baseboard heating would be a good deal cheaper. But Northern Ontario is a good deal colder than Montreal.

Hmmm…seems it may be less than we thought. I guess, like Dan1500 says, I assumed all the bad rap about electric heating.

Hari Seldon, we have a Smart Meter on our current home as does the one we’re looking at. With the (hated) Smart Meter we pay 9.9 cents/kWh on-peak, 8.0/kWh mid-peak and 5.3/kWh off-peak. Off-peak is between 9pm and 7am - not overly handy for laundry, etc., really. Our winters consist of weeks of -30C both days and nights. Still, it seems it may be less than I thought!

Thanks all so far. Any others with input I would be very interested still.

We used to have a 2-bedroom condo with electric heat. The electric bill was routinely at least $300 per month in the winter. This is NJ, where we have cold winters but usually not extreme. This was at least a decade ago, it’s undoubtedly more now. Given my options I’d not choose to repeat the experience.

See, now, that is exactly what I remember hearing about electric heat. A friend lived in a 3-bedroom condo about 20-odd years ago and I swear her bills back then were $500 or so per month. It was a long time ago though, we were in our early 20’s, were broke a lot and bills often carried over so I can’t remember if it was a case of $500 because $250 was from last month or it was $500 due all brand new this month.

But when I ask around I hear what the posters above quote as average ($300 is what I’ve been hearing mainly).

Alot of it depends on what your rates are. Ours were 10 cents per kWh

If it’s a decent stove, properly installed, and with a configuration to circulate warmed air up to the main level, yes, this could well be your primary heat source. I’m almost sure that was the intention; electric resistance heaters as the primary system in a cold climate is just insane.

If any of those three criteria is lacking, you’re probably still better off addressing that than keeping the baseboards humming all winter. If I were you, I’d start with all the baseboards shut off, and learn the dynamics of the wood stove system on its own first, with the hope of using only some of the resistance heaters only some of the time (e.g., only to keep certain bedrooms warm at night).

What you have is considerably more efficient than baseboard (resistance) heating. Your electricity is being applied to a thermal mass of water (and pipes), not just air.

I agree,** spark240**. The wood pellet stove was likely put in to off-set the hydro costs of heating with the baseboard heaters. There are vents cut into the floor in various spots on the main floor so I assume they are there for warm air from the stove downstairs to get up there.

Maybe I’m overly concerned for nothing about the electric heat but we do have very cold winters in Northern Ontario (weeks of -30C or below throughout the winter and that is both night lows and sometimes day highs). I currently have a high-efficiency oil furnace and a very well insulated house and we pay much, much less than many others in town for heat. I’d be annoyed to move and triple out heating bill.

I’m in Ottawa and heat with electricity, albeit central heating. The rates (as you are no doubt aware) have been increasing lately, and are due to continue increasing. I am in a 1,700 square foot bungalow and about 6 years ago put a wood stove in the basement. Since putting the wood stove in, my furnace run time has been reduced by over 50%. In mild weather the wood stove will maintain room temperature throughout the house.

I believe our new equal billing for all electricity (heat, hot water, lights, etc.) is now approaching $300 per month, every month. Way back (10 + years) before we were on equal billing, and with much lower electricity rates we would pay in the $300 - $400 range for January or February. Now we pay that every month on equal billing. But rates are certainly still going up. I fully expect to be pay $400 a month on equal billing within two years.

Try contacting the utility (hydro?) company and asking them. This is standard procedure around here (Western NY).

They may have a budget plan and they will tell you exactly how much you will pay each month, at least until the year is over.

The pellet stove is a wild card: Determining its utilization during the prior year will be hard, short of actually asking the previous owner/occupant.

Our wood stove heats most of our 2200 sq ft 2 level house. We don’t really like the kids, so they get to sleep with lots of blankets. And the living room with the stove approaches 85F at times, but those are the breaks.

Sorry, I should have mentioned the house has been vacant for about 8 years. It has been maintained though as it’s owned by the MNR and they have someone who goes around and cuts the grass, fixes anything broken, etc. The MNR says they can’t give us an estimate. Calling the hydro company directly is a good idea though.

Leaffan… I half wonder if it would be worth looking at one of the resellers (or whatever they are called…Direct Energy and the others).

Have you tried little fans in halls and doorways (wall-mounted in upper corners) to move the air around?

Ohhhh…something else I totally forgot (sorry, it’s been a crazy week and house buying wasn’t actually planned - it just sort of popped up)! In the basement is a heat exchanger. I’m told that may help with the wood pellet stove air getting upstairs.