Two baseboard heater components at the intersection of two walls with the text, "$$$ ?" superimposed above the image

Baseboard heating is a type of radiant heating that uses hot water or electric coils running through your baseboard to heat your home.

However, you may be curious about this heating system’s initial, installation, and operation costs. Keep reading to learn more about the upfront and ongoing cost of baseboard heating.

How Much Does Baseboard Heating Cost?

Gas or electric baseboard heating typically costs between $200 and $1,300 per unit, including installation.

The monthly operation of these baseboard heating systems ranges between $480 and $900. However, these prices are impacted by the size of your home and the type of heating system you install.

Now let’s break down the various costs associated with baseboard heating.

Baseboard Heating Installation Costs Based on Heating Technology

You can implement radiant heating with gas, electric, or hydronic (liquid-based) technology. The technology you choose significantly impacts the cost of your baseboard heating. 

For example, installing an electric baseboard heating system typically costs less than a gas or hydronic system. However, electric baseboard heaters are less efficient than gas or hydronic system.

However, electric baseboard heaters are less efficient and will cost more to operate. As a rule, electric heat is more expensive than gas.

Gas and hydronic baseboard heating systems are more expensive to install than electric systems, but they are more efficient and have lower operation costs long term.

Generally speaking, electric baseboard can be useful to heat single rooms and small spaces. If you are looking for whole-home heating, it will be more cost effective to use other options.

Electric Baseboard Heater Installation Costs

An electric baseboard heating unit costs between $50 and $130. When you factor in installation, the system will cost you between $200 and $1,100. 

A homeowner undertaking an electric baseboard heater installation
Courtesy of That Slumlord Life

The exact cost will depend on several factors, such as: 

  • The size of the unit
  • The complexity of the installation 
  • The labor costs in your area

This is a rough estimate for a single unit. If you are looking to heat an entire house, the costs will be higher. An electric baseboard system may not be your best choice to heat a large space.

Gas-fired furnaces and boilers will have much lower operation costs for whole-home heating. If you don’t have ductwork or a hydronic system, a mini split might honestly be a better option.

These systems are fully electric but don’t have the same power draw as electric baseboards do.

They rely on heat transfer and don’t have to spend energy creating heat, which saves quite a bit of money on utility bills. But these systems will be more expensive to install.

Gas Baseboard Heater Installation Costs

Gas baseboard heaters use natural gas or propane gas to heat your home. 

They are typically more expensive to install than electric baseboard heaters, but they are also more efficient and can save you money on your energy bills over time.

The average cost to install a gas baseboard heater is between $350 and $1,200, with the unit alone costing between $100 and $500. 

You can read our article, “Is It Possible To Remove Natural Gas From Your Home?” to learn more about natural gas in your home. 

Hydronic Baseboard Heater Installation Costs

The national average cost for a hydronic baseboard heater installation is between $430 and $1,200, with most homeowners spending around $750 for a 1,500-square-foot (139.35 sq m) home in a moderate climate. 

If you live in a cold climate or have a large home, expect your expenditure to be on the higher end of that range.

In addition, the model and brand of the hydronic heater will play a role in the project’s overall cost. For example, a high-efficiency model will cost more than a standard unit.

A Hydronic Baseboard Heater running along the junction of the floor and the wall in a home
Courtesy of Family Handyman

Hydronic heaters are more efficient than other types of heaters due to their ability to hold the heat for an extended period after a running cycle. However, they heat slowly compared to other types of heating.

How Do Baseboard Heating Costs Compare To Other Heating Types? 

While baseboard heaters come with low installation prices, the high operating costs are a pain in the neck for homeowners. 

The table below lists various heating options and their related installation costs:

Heating TypeAverage Installation Cost
Baseboard Heating$200 to $1200
Forced-Air Furnace$2,000 to $5,400
Heat Pump$2,800 to $8,200
Geothermal Heat Pump$15,000 to $30,000
Ductless Mini-Split$2,000 to $6,000
Radiant Floor Heating$2,100 to $6,400

How Much Does Baseboard Heating Cost Per Month?

On average, baseboard heating in the United States costs $480-$900 per month. The exact figure varies depending on the climate, the size of the home, and the extent of use.

Also contributing to the monthly cost is the type of heater you have. If you have a gas heater (propane or natural gas), then the cost of those fuels, respectively, comes into the equation.

If you have an electric heater, then the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity comes into the equation. 

As mentioned before, gas (both natural and LP) will be cheaper than electric heat. This may not the case for electric heat pumps.

The cost is higher in colder climates, such as the Northeast, and lower in warmer regions, such as the Southwest.

Additionally, a small home will use less electricity to run the system than a large home. 

Also, the more you use your baseboard heater, the higher your monthly cost will be. 

Repair and Maintenance Cost

Repairing and maintaining a baseboard heater is costly and can range from $140 to $400. However, the maintenance cost will depend on the type of heater, the size of the room.

Handy Tip: If your heater is low-quality or old, it gets to a point where getting a new one is less costly than fixing it frequently.

How to Reduce the Recurring Cost of Baseboard Heating

Clean Your Heater Regularly

Cleaning your baseboard heater is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your heating bill.

Dust and dirt can build up on the fins of the system, reducing their efficiency and driving costs up. 

To clean your heaters, vacuum them or wipe them with a cloth. Be sure to unplug the unit and let it cool down before you clean it.

Here’s a video showing how to clean your baseboard heater effectively:

Screenshot from a video showing how to clean your baseboard heater effectively
Courtesy of Family Handyman

Remove Any Obstructions Near Your Heater

You may not know this, but your baseboard heater is designed to operate with some space around it for two reasons: 

  • Safety – if there are too many obstructions around your baseboard heater, it can become a fire hazard. The items around may heat to the point of catching fire. 
  • Efficiency – the heater needs room to breathe. It will have to work harder to heat the room if it is obstructed, increasing energy bills.

So, how much clearance does your baseboard heater need? 

It depends on the model, but most require at least four inches (10.16 cm) of clearance on all sides. You may need six inches (15.24 cm) or more if you have a larger room.

The best way to find out is to consult your owner’s manual.

Use Programmable Thermostats

Programmable thermostats are another way to reduce the cost of operating a baseboard heater.

You can significantly reduce your overall energy costs by programming these thermostats to reduce heating when it’s not needed.

A smart thermostat is adjusted to optimize energy efficiency

In addition to reducing energy costs, programmable thermostats also help extend the life of your baseboard heating system.

By reducing the time your system is running, you can help it last longer and reduce the need for repairs or replacements in the future.

Choose the Lowest Temperature

Another effective way to reduce the cost of operating your baseboard heater is to choose the lowest temperature setting that still maintains a comfortable home environment.

This level will minimize the time your heater is running and can significantly reduce energy costs.

Final Thoughts

While installation and unit costs are low, baseboard heating is expensive to operate. However, several ways to reduce operating costs include cleaning your heater regularly and using a programmable thermostat.

Electric baseboard heat is most useful for small rooms and spaces that don’t require constant heating. If you have spaces in your home that are only used intermittently, a baseboard unit could be just what you need. 

For whole-home heating, they are often not the best choice because of their high operation costs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *