protecting pipes from freezing with electric heat


I just read an article that with today's oil prices, it would be cheaper to heat with electric baseboard heat, than with an oil boiler.
I have a building with electric baseboard heaters.
but if I use them, how do I keep the pipes in the basement from freezing?
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roamic wrote:

Generally there's enough heat transfer through floors and so on that basements in occupied heated dwellings don't get cold enough to freeze pipes unless they're outside supplies or very infrequently used so water stays stagnant in them for long periods.
I'd simply monitor the situation and then take whatever action seemed mandatory at the time if it turned out to be a problem.
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roamic wrote:

Doesn't your basement have adequate insuslation? Is standing water in the pipes? There is such thing as electrical heat tape for pipes. My cabin has a crawl space(not full basement) which is very well insulated. Water is coming from a well. Never experienced frozen pipes. Outside temp. in the dead winter can reach down to -35 deg. F.
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The power company switches between coal, natural gas, and oil depending on the current cost to fuel a fire to boil water to make steam. The steam is used to turn generators. The power from the generators is then transmitted over great distance through a network of wires to get to your building. Now you want to turn that electricity back into the heat that it started as. Do you really think that is more efficient than lighting a fire in your own boiler and making your own heat?
Look at improving insulation and air leaks in your building. Insulate your pipes. Get a higher efficiency boiler. Maybe have more zones added. Switching to electric heat will not be the answer to your high heating bills.
To answer your question, you would probably need to insulate the pipes and add electric heat in the area of the pipes to keep them from freezing. Depending on the piping arrangement and quantity you may be able to use heat tape which does not consume a lot of electricity.
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John Grabowski wrote: ...

Not for any one generation unit, they don't switch indiscriminately, no.
It may not be as efficient overall, but it's more efficient at the end user and may well be cheaper depending on local rates as opposed to fuel oil costs. Ain't necessarily so, but ain't necessarily not, either...
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You disregard the existence of hydroelectric, nuclear and other power sources, so your argument may not hold for everyone. I agree with the rest of what you said, though.
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Every area has different electric costs and most areas are going up, you have to compare your own fuel costs and boiler efficency to see if your area is actualy cheaper on electric. Where I am electric is still more.
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roamic wrote:

Basements never freeze unless you have wicked air leaks. Anything below the ground takes it's head from the earth which is around 45 to 50 degrees plus heat from above. So plug all the air leaks and keep the wind out.
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Well they are electric heaters specially made for that, rap around and they have they own Thermostat. If you are Fred in winter pipe freezing up you can always leave some water running (trickle) doing bad days and that will solve you problem.

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Before proceeding, I would double check those numbers. While in some areas that could very well be true, in most areas it would not apply. So was that article based on the same supplies you use for electric and oil? Have you checked the cost estimates for next year for your area? Also be sure to factor in the cost of new equipment.
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