The justifiable concern over the cost of electricity often has clients calling with this question.
Here are some considerations:
If you have a forced air system that consists of an electric furnace supplying heat through a duct system, and natural gas is available, by all means, switch it over. Natural gas is the least expensive energy source, and you can economically switch over the hot water tank at the same time. Added bonus: Natural gas is then available should you find the need for a whole-home generator. A second fuel choice would be propane, as it has all the advantages of natural gas, except it is more expensive. Final choice would be oil which has the drawback of increased insurance liability (spills) and lack of insured, qualified heating contractors to work on the system.
If you have electric baseboard heating you can still convert to a forced air system, but you will have to install ductwork. Budget $7500 to $15,000 plus the cost of the heating equipment, depending on the complexity of the ductwork installation, including refinishing damaged areas of your home’s walls and ceilings.
Need to stay with electric baseboard heat and still want some savings?
If your baseboard heaters are over 20 years old, replacing your baseboard heaters with newer units controlled by digital thermostats will reduce your heating costs approximately 10%. Installing digital, programmable thermostats will reduce the costs a further 10%. Thanks to remote monitoring technology, there is no damage to the fit and finish of your home.
There is added silver lining when staying with electric alone, as you avoid the second set of administration fees, delivery fees, and additional monthly charges that each utility company adds to each bill.
The most common complaint about electric baseboard heating is no provision for air conditioning. There are now ductless air conditioning systems that can be added to homes with baseboard heat so you are not stuck with “window shaker” types that consume masses of energy.
An additional side benefit of staying with electric baseboard heat is that there is less dust and allergens stirred up compared with a forced heat system.