Electric heating is a process in which electrical energy is converted to heat energy. Common applications include space heating, cooking, water heating and industrial processes. An electric heater is an electrical device that converts an electric current into heat. The heating element inside every electric heater is an electrical resistor, and works on the principle of Joule heating: an electric current passing through a resistor will convert that 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 ceramic insulators.
Alternatively, a heat pump uses an electric motor to drive a refrigeration cycle, that draws heat energy from a source such as the ground or outside air and directs that heat 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.