Electric heating is any process in which electrical energy is converted to heat. Common applications include space heating, cooking, water heating and industrial processes. An electric heater is an electrical appliance that converts electrical energy into heat. The heating element inside every electric heater is simply an electrical resistor, and works on the principle of Joule heating: an electric current through a resistor converts electrical energy into heat energy. Most modern electric heating devices use Nichrome wire as the active element. The heating element depicted on the right uses Nichrome wire supported by heat resistant, refractory, electrically insulating ceramic.
Alternatively, a heat pump uses an electric motor to drive a refrigeration cycle, drawing energy from a source such as the ground or outside air and directing it into the space to be warmed. Some systems can be reversed so that the interior space is cooled and the warm air is discharged outside or into the ground. Heat pumps can deliver two or three units of heating energy for every unit of electricity purchased
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