Electric heating systems include electric furnaces, baseboard heaters, wall heaters and portable space heaters, and they all work by electrical resistance. Electricity passes through a resistive element, causing it to glow and produce heat. Among the disadvantages of electric heat are high cost, dry air and potential fires.
The Cost of the Glowing Element
Electric heat creates increased demand for the utility company, and in the United States, 84 percent of the electricity consumed comes from the burning of fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 79 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. The energy you consume heating your home with electricity not only adds to global warming, but it costs you more. In 2014, electricity cost, on average, 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in the United States. At that rate, a single 1,500-watt electric space heater, used for eight hours a day, costs about $43 a month to operate.
Dry Air and Fire
Electric heaters tend to dry out the air in the house, and this can have several adverse effects. It can cause dry skin and itchy eyes, and it can shrink hardwood floorboards and create gaps between them. The glowing element of a resistive heater is also a fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division reports that space heaters cause more than 25,000 fires and more than 300 deaths yearly.