Electric heat for mountain home

In a mountain home already heated with electrical heat panels and a fireplace on the first floor, what type of heat would you suggest when we finish the second floor and the basement? June Yelton Blowing Rock, N.C.

Since part of the house is already heated by electric-resistance heaters, it is probable that sufficiently large electric-power-supply cables enter the house to supply power for basement electric heaters, says Heinz Jaster, manager of the thermal systems unit at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, N.Y.

Electric heating is cost-competitive to oil heating in some areas of the country; also, the equipment cost for electric heaters is lower than that for oil systems in the home.

The Department of Energy predicts that the rate of increase in the price of oil over the next 10 years will be three times that for electricity. In other words, the rate of increase for oil is estimated at 28 percent; that for electricity, 8.5 percent -- in constant dollars.

Obviously, a lot depends on the cost of electricity in your area, but the prospects for electricity over the long pull look promising.

"A wood stove is an alternative or a complement to electric heaters if the existing chimney can accommodate it," Mr. Jaster asserts.

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