Making your heating system more efficient with plenum heaters

You’ve probably heard of them before, and you may even know a few things about them; but what exactly is a plenum heater, and how can it help you save energy?

Plenum heaters are electric heating units that mount in the duct work – or plenum – of your furnace. When your thermostat registers a temperature below what you’ve set it at, the plenum heater activates, starting the heating process. 

Plenum heaters have evolved over the years, and now they are much more than just an electric heater. They’re now able to sense duct output temperatures and outdoor temperatures, which helps the units heating elements keep a constant duct output temperature and also decrease or increase the duct output temperature by sampling the outdoor temperature. This type of smart technology makes these units highly efficient.

Plenum heaters can be used in combination with many types of heating systems, including liquid propane, natural gas and fuel oil furnaces as well as with air conditioners or air source heat pumps. They also come in different sizes (10kw – 25kw) to accommodate the amount of BTU (British thermal unit) output needed to meet your home’s heating requirements.

There are two brands of plenum heaters that I have seen sold in this area: Thermolec, a Canadian-made product, and Electro Mate a USA-made product manufactured in Monticello, Minn. by Electro Industries. Both units have been around for a long time and keep improving their technology every year. Check with your local heating contractors for installation costs.

Wright-Hennepin also offers a reduced Off-Peak rate through its Dual Fuel program for heating systems that include this type of product. The Off-Peak rate is $0.049 cents per kilowatt hour, which is a nice savings over fossil fuel costs.

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