Basically, heaters powered by electricity have the following in common: a housing, a resistance (often called element), a control device to protect against overheating (often called a thermal protection) and wires to make the connections. Some of them feature a simple ventilation mechanism (fan) aimed to direct the heat produced.
Although restricted to qualified professionals, the installation of a heater or a set of electrical heaters is much less complex than that of other units or systems operating with oil or gas, for example. Besides the electrical connections, these methods require the connection of supply pipes or the installation of a storage tank for oil.
Electric heating is instantaneous. We adjust the thermostat on the unit or on the wall, and away we go! The device responds immediately and silently, unless it includes a simple ventilation mechanism. All required energy is used 100% without any loss during operation. An enveloping and uniform heat invades the house or one of its spaces, without disturbance of the air or risk of gaseous contamination. Furthermore, no disturbing smell is created.
Whether it is an electric radiant heating system, convection or forced air, you can control the temperature of the entire house with a single thermostat or control the temperature of each room using individual thermostats. The use of electronic thermostats, programmable or non-programmable, allows the connected heater to constantly adjust in order to achieve the set temperature. The result is a guarantee of comfort and energy savings.
Electric heating is safe and is the most frequently chosen option by contractors in the construction industry. The electrical heating units used are virtually maintenance free and very rarely break, which further contributes to them being the economical choice. Depending on the budget, new home buyers will choose electric baseboards, convectors or forced air heating.
What further encourages more people to choose electric heating is the fact that the price of the resource does not fluctuate like other forms of energy reacting to market forces. The price of electricity increases with inflation and to a reasonable curve.
In 2015, natural gas heating costs were lower than electric heating. The gas rate is more stable than that of oil, but it is nevertheless expected to fluctuate. The equipment required to heat the house with natural gas, including the power supply and labor, is around $4,000 to $6,600, and that, taking into account some incentive discounts offered by the energy supplier. The annual visit from a technician and filter replacement may total an annual fee of about $250. Gas, unlike oil, does not have to be stored. Most people also opt for a hot water tank with natural gas. With a furnace, heating costs are estimated at $1,350 in a 2,400 sq.ft. house with a yield of 80%. The price per cubic meter of natural gas seems more stable than that of oil, but it is not immune to unwanted increases. Although accidents are rare, many people have fears about the explosive nature of the gas.
Boilers and oil furnaces have experienced their heyday. Ever-present 50 years ago, their market share is down to 7% today. Besides this, heating oil prices change frequently. Exceptionally low in May 2015 ($0.89), it has actually fluctuated between $1.10 and $1.30 per liter over the previous three years. The oil furnace, which still sells today, costs between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on the type of heating chosen. The tank and its installation cost is about $1,300. Also, it takes some preventive maintenance and the visit of a technician once a year to ensure the proper functioning of the system, costing about $125 on average. At $0.89 per liter (which is good), we can estimate heating costs for an average house with four occupants at $2,200 annually and more than $3,000 when the cost per liter is $1.30. The price of heating oil per liter has no limit.
Heating with wood is certainly the least expensive way to heat a home. Indeed, one can expect to pay around $1,000 to heat an average house at a rate of 10 to 15 cords of wood, each costing $80 and more. This method of heating, in addition to being a source of pollution depending on the heating unit used, however, requires considerable efforts: storing the wood so that it properly dries, constantly replenishing the wood to keep it burning, the removing of ashes, etc., not to mention the temperature fluctuations that its use causes in many cases. Furthermore, wood heating is facing more and more restrictions or prohibitions from a growing number of municipalities.
Here's a handy calculating tool from the Office of Canada's Energy Efficiency to assess the approximate costs of home heating with various heating systems