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home heating costs

Answers to your heating questions

Many of you are concerned about the rising cost of heating your home, and we have been getting questions about using electricity to help reduce those costs.  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, along with answers and advice to help you make the best decision for your heating needs.

Question:  How can I calculate the cost to heat my home with electricity, and compare it to the cost of heating with oil?

Answer:  Calculating the amount of energy needed to heat a home requires a complex, detailed analysis called a heat loss analysis.  Every home is different, and lots of factors can affect heating costs, so it's hard to estimate what it might cost to heat your home this winter.  Find a Certified Energy Auditor on Efficiency Maine's website to contact and get an estimate for your home.

Efficiency Maine's website also has a tool to compare home heating costs and options

Question:  At what price for oil would it cost the same to heat my home with either electricity or oil?

Answer: Check Efficiency Maine's heating comparison tool to compare heating costs for oil, electricity, and other fuels.

Question:  How much does it cost to run a portable energy-efficient electric space heater?

Answer: A typical portable space heater is 1,500 watts, which means it will use 1.5 kWh each hour. Space heaters cycle on and off to maintain a certain temperature, so it may use less energy. It would cost about $0.21 per hour to run a space heater based on rate A delivery and standard offer supply prices as of July 2014. If you want to calculate the price to run your own space heater, use these steps:

  1. Determine the wattage of the electric space heater
  2. Divide the wattage by 1,000 to convert to kilowatts (kW)
  3. Determine the number of hours per month your electric space heater is on (remember: appliances like space heaters cycle on and off to maintain a certain temperature)
  4. Multiply kW (your answer from part 2) by hours (your answer from part 3)
  5. Multiply the total kilowatt-hours (kWh, your answer from part 4) by the current residential price of $0.155

Question:  How do I decide when it makes sense to use an electric space heater instead of just turning up the thermostat?

Answer:  Generally speaking, if the area that you need to heat is less than about half the size of the total space controlled by the thermostat, it would actually be less expensive to use an electric space heater instead.

Click here for more information about portable electric space heaters.

Question:  I want to completely stop using oil to heat my house, but don't want to have an electric heat system installed.  Can I just use several portable electric space heaters to heat my home?

Answer:  Although you can save money by using electric space heaters to supplement your central heating system, it would most likely cost more to use portable electric space heaters as your only source for heat.  Plus, water pipes that run throughout your house could freeze where there are no electric space heaters, and larger rooms are harder to heat up using only an electric space heater.

Click here for more information about electric space heaters.

Question:  Are some space heaters more efficient than others?  Which one do you recommend?

Answer:  All electric space heaters, both portable and hard-wired, are considered 100% efficient.  That means all the electricityyou pay for goes into the space you want to heat.  Oil-fired systems are typically 70-80% efficient.

There are a few different types of portable electric space heaters.  Click here to view our fact sheet, which can help you decide what type of portable electric space heater is right for you.

Question:  I heat my water with oil.  Should I switch to an electric water heater?

Answer:  Electric water heaters are efficient, safe, and require less maintenance.

To estimate your kilowatt-hour use for heating water with an electric water heater, go to our online energy calculator and page down to the water heater section.

You can compare that cost to other water heating options using Efficiency Maine's website.

Click here for more information on electric water heaters.

Question:  Are some electric water heaters more efficient than others?  Which one do you recommend?

Answer:  Electric water heaters are all very efficient.  The minimum energy factor for a 40 gallon tank is 92% per standards set by the Federal Department of Energy.  Electric water heaters today are well-insulated and have other energy-savings features.  Water heaters with higher energy factors will cost less to operate.  Some water heaters have longer warranties than others, which is another factor you can consider when comparing brands.

Click here for more information on electric water heaters.























more information

Download either one of the fact sheets below to find out more about these products.

Electric space heater fact sheet

Electric water heater fact sheet 


compare heating costs 

Click here for Efficiency Maine's heating cost comparison tool