Keeping toasty with Mr. Reddy Kilowatt

Q: When the previous owner of my condo converted the place from electric heat to gas hot-water, he didnt put a baseboard in the bathroom. My budget this year doesnt cover putting baseboard heat in there, so Im wondering if a portable electric space heater or the bathroom ceiling heat lamp will use less electricity to make the room comfortable. A: Youre right to be thinking about getting a hot-water baseboard in there when your budget allows; the most expensive way to provide heat is with electricity. For now, though, consider the heat lamp your best option, for many reasons. First, it will cost less than the portable heater to run. For every 30 minutes the heat lamp is on per day, it will cost about 50 cents per month in electricity. A portable electric heater in the 500-1,000 watt range could cost between 95 cents (for the low setting) and $1.90 (high setting) per month for every 30 minutes of daily use. In addition, the heat lamp - if its on a timer - will be safer and cheaper, because nobody can forget to turn it off. The timer is essential, as the lamp can get very hot. The heat lamp also doesnt have other fire risks of a space heater, which can be knocked over, and can set fire to materials or surfaces that are too close to it - an important consideration in a small bathroom. Lastly is the comfort factor. A heat lamp warms objects, including you, while a portable electric heater warms air. So, of the two options, a heat lamp can be more comfortable for people stepping out of the shower. I hope youll be able to install the baseboard system soon. Until then, stay warm! Rachael Pendleton-Fredericks is a business development specialist at Efficiency Vermont. To find more energy saving tips or to submit a new question about energy use in your home or business, visit www.efficiencyvermont.com/askrachael or call, toll-free: 1-888-921-5990.

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