Save money this winter on your electric heating: get rid of that ugly baseboard heater

Save money this winter on your electric heating: get rid of that ugly baseboard heater
The trouble with baseboard heaters is complex. They are both ugly and they use a lot of electricity to keep a room warm. You really need a heater that moves the air and heats a room quickly. The answer is to replace that baseboard heater with an electric wall heater, and you'd be surprised how easy it can be to do this job yourself.  

A wall heater is a single unit that sits inside the wall and forces hot air throughout the room with a fan. It's simple to install one because you don't have to do any new wiring. All the time in condo conversions, I've seen the labor crew hook the new wall heaters to the same wires that they disconnected from the old baseboard heaters. No need to replace the thermostat. No need to run new wire.


Here's what you'll need:

wire cutters


an electric drill

wire nuts

a circuit tester


a drywall saw

a stud finder 

a pry bar

a pencil

Here's how you get started:

1. The first thing to do is to turn off the power to the baseboard heater. Never work with live wires. You may want to buy a circuit tester before getting started. They're about $10 and are worth the money. Or you can be safe and shut down the whole house. That's guaranteed.  

2. The next thing is to remove the old baseboard heater. There are many ways to do this. Most often I see it done with a pry bar, though that scuffs up the walls pretty good when the screws holding the heater in are yanked out. Either way you'll have to patch those old holes a little bit.

3. Use your stud finder to locate the closest stud to where you want the heater to go. Keep in mind, it has to be in the same stud bay as the wires you'll hook it into. Once you've done this, mark a vertical line along the edge of the stud. That will be the edge of the wall heater. Trace an outline of the wall heater's back that will fit into the stud bay. Get your drywall saw and start cutting.

4. Once you've got a hole, do a test fit to make sure the hole is big enough. If so, connect the wires from the wall to the wires in the wall heater unit. White to white, black to black. Make sure the wire nuts are tight and don't leave any copper exposed. Make sure also you can't pull the wires apart easily.

5. Put the fan in the wall and screw it into the stud.

6. Turn on the power and turn up the thermostat to make sure it works. Then put on the trim plate and start enjoying your new heating system. Think about buying some gourmet hot chocolate to enjoy and don't feel guilty about splurging. You'll still end up on top with all the money you'll save on your electric bill anyway. 



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Corey on Nov 03, 2010:

What about cost? how much does a typical unit cost and do they come in different sizes?

Also what is the monthly or anual savings durring the heating season?

Peter on Jul 11, 2010:

Any ideas how this could work in a loft with exposed brick walls? 

barrettorama on Jan 01, 2007:

I like this setup.

I've been thinking of putting a ceiling fan in my living room, coupled with an oil heater. Right now my heat goes straight up to the ceiling.


alexrussell on Dec 30, 2006:

Keter has a great point. The one good thing about baseboard heaters is that they're nearly silent. Wall heater models with fans do make noise, but the ones I hear all the time don't make anything like a racket. And they're not top of the line models by any means. They're not silent, but still nothing close to the noise from a bathroom or laundryroom fan.

A nice thing also about fan-driven heat is that it heats the room very quickly, so the heater's not on all the time. Unless you leave a window open, or something like that.  

Keter on Dec 30, 2006:

Do you know if there are any wall heater models that are QUIET?  The fan racket common to the ones I've seen just isn't something I want in my home.

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