Comparing Cost of Electric Heating Systems

By Ryan Davies

CEC Customer & Energy Services Supervisor

Living in Central Oregon, we are blessed with beautiful winters.  However, we also spend a large part of the year heating our homes, which makes selecting a heat source a significant decision.  There are multiple types of electric heating systems, and you may not know how they compare on a cost basis.  The chart below compares each type, based on the efficiency of the system.

Heating System Type Unit BTUs Per Unit Cost Per Unit Unit Cost (Per Million BTUs) Combined Efficiency (System & Distribution) Delivered Cost (Per Million BTUs) Rank (Cost) Ductless Heat Pump kWh 3,413 $0.0741 $21.71 250% $8.68 1 Heat Pump kWh 3,413 $0.0741 $21.71 180% $12.06 2 Electric Resistance (cadets, baseboards, plug in heaters, etc.) kWh 3,413 $0.0741 $21.71 100% $21.71 3 Electric Furnace kWh 3,413 $0.0741 $21.71 90% $24.12 4 * Electric rate based on current winter rate for CEC * All furnaces assume ducts are sealed to 90%

As outlined in the chart above, the most cost effective option is a heat pump; both standard and ductless. Central Electric Cooperative offers cash incentives to help pay for either a heat pump or ductless heat pump installation for eligible members.

To learn more, visit the following pages on the CEC website.

CEC Heat Pump Program Main Page:

CEC Ductless Heat Pump Program Main Page:

Every home is unique and each type of heating system has its pros and cons.  The heating system that makes sense in one person’s home may not be the best selection or an option at all for another.  The purpose of this chart is simply to compare the different options available and provide general information to help make the difficult decision.  Aside from energy efficiency there are many other aspects to consider when choosing a heating system, such as cost of installation, the size of your home, coverage area of the heating system and performance of the heating system to name a few.