How Does an Electric Central Heat System Work?


Quick Answer

Electric central heating systems work by using resistance coils to produce heat. A blower forces air across the coils and distributes the warm air throughout the home through a system of air ducts. The system pulls cool air for heating through the return air ducts.

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Full Answer

A single thermostat controls the electric central heating system. When the air temperature reaches the lower set point of the cycle, the thermostat initiates power to the resistance elements, while the blower starts circulating air across the elements. Once the temperature reaches the upper set point, it switches off the power and the blower continues until the elements are cool.

Electric forced air systems are generally more expensive to operate than heat pumps. Heat pumps transfer heat from a cold area to a warm one. They work on the same principle as air conditioners and refrigerators. They transfer more energy than they use. However, insulating electric forced air systems and sealing ducts helps to ensure they work at top efficiency.

Like other forced air systems, electric systems use a filter to trap particles from the air as it passes through the unit. A dirty filter slows the movement of air through the system and causes it to use more energy. Changing the filter regularly ensures the system operates more efficiently.

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