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Baseboard Heating Covers: Effect on Efficiency?

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    LESLIE: Listening in on WABC we’ve got Leo in New Jersey. What can we do for you?

    LEO: Hi. I have a question about baseboard heating covers.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    LEO: After doing some research, I found out that basically the possibilities are endless. You can get everything custom. So my question is when do you start messing with efficiency? As far as changing the size of it?

    TOM: That’s a good question. Now the – first of all, these are baseboard units? These aren’t full-size radiators, right?

    LEO: No.

    TOM: Alright.

    LESLIE: Are they aluminum or are they cast iron?

    LEO: The originals are aluminum.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: OK. Well yeah, because if you had cast iron we’d tell you to walk away from it. When do you start messing with efficiency? Well, I guess when you cut down air flow. It’s real important that you maintain the air flow around these. So you have to have space for the air to get under it, go across the fins and then out the top. Now most basic radiator covers have a vent that sort of tilts where you can open and close it.

    LEO: Right.

    TOM: I think as long as you maintain the air flow you’re probably OK. You know, the old steam radiators – it used to be in vogue to have custom covers made for those. But steam radiators, if you touched them, they would burn your hand because they got super, super hot. And so people would put these covers on them. That really did affect the efficiency. They weren’t nearly as efficient with those covers on as they would have been if they were off. But it was a solution for a practical problem; especially if you had kids. But with baseboard, as long as you keep good air flow around it, I think that’s the key to the efficiency.

    LEO: Yes, because the object basically is to make it as small as possible because they’re quite unsightly.

    LESLIE: Oh yeah, they really are. And the aluminum ones, you want to make sure that you keep a good space around it also. This way you get good air flow plus you’re also then not hindering the movement of the heat out.

    TOM: Leo, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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