Is running your heating on electricity costing a fortune? Then you are not alone. Most homes in the UK, about 86% in fact, use gas to run central heating. That’s because gas is much cheaper than electricity per kWh. Gas costs around 3.5 p per kWh compared to 12p per kWh for electricity. However, not everyone has a mains gas connection or is able to run the heating off the gas supply. Which means using the electricity to keep warm. The amount of energy this takes can be very costly but there is another way. Economy 7 storage heaters use electricity at night time when it can be much cheaper, storing it up to be released during the day.
As of January 5, 2021, according to the UK government’s website, the UK will enter another period of lockdown. We at Switch Plan want to let you know that although our business goes unaffected, we understand that the lives of all have been affected by these trying times. Our team of experts are working hard to ensure that you make savings on your energy bill by switching suppliers. Read more about your energy supply during COVID-19 in our article.
Are Economy 7 storage heaters any good?
If you have a tariff that offers cheaper electricity at some times of the day, such as the Economy 7 meter which gives you cheaper rates for seven hours overnight, then storage heaters can be a good option.
Storage heaters take advantage of these hours when power is much cheaper, charging up with heat which they then slowly release during the day. These are a good option for homes without a mains gas connection, such as many rural properties or older buildings.
What are Economy 7 storage heaters?
Storage heaters are electric heaters that store thermal energy. They do this by heating up internal ceramic bricks at night which gradually release this heat energy over time, keeping your home warm during the day.
They are wall mounted and look like regular radiators, and should be fixed in any room that you want heating. There are different varieties available that heat in different ways, with costs varying according to efficiency and programmability.
How do Economy 7 storage heaters work?
To make the most of your storage heaters you need to be on an Economy 7 tariff. However, a lot of people do not realise this and end up charging their heaters at the wrong time of day, costing them a lot more money.
Think about your storage heaters as a rechargeable battery. In order to work efficiently, they need to be fully charged up before releasing the energy that is stored within. With an Economy 7 tariff, electricity is supplied to your home at two different rates. One is peak time and the other off peak. In order to make the best use of the storage heaters, you need to be charging them during these off peak hours – generally at night, usually from 12 until 7am.
Remember that storage heaters start leaking heat almost immediately and will lose the vast majority over a 12 hour period. This means that if you get home from work at 7pm, the majority of the heat stored will already have been released. This is when having a well insulated house and being sensible about closing doors and windows can really pay off.
How much do storage heaters cost?
Storage heaters can vary dramatically in price. It generally depends on the brand you choose and the type of heating you want. The cheaper manual models can be bought for around £150 per unit but the more complex models will be £250 and upwards. You need to factor in the cost of heating your home this way.
However, as storage heaters are stand-alone units and not part of a wider system you can buy them as and when you have the funds. In general, it is always better to go for the more advanced and efficient models as these give you more control over your heating.
How much does it cost to run Economy 7 heating?
It all depends how many heaters you have and how they are set up to heat your house. However, using Economy 7 meters and tariffs to heat your home is a good way to save money – provided you follow all the advice in this guide.
Assuming around 42% of your electricity is used at night to charge up heaters and you use the average amount it will cost around £516 a year with Economy 7. This is compared to around £538 per year with the cheapest normal tariff. This is because that 42% of energy use at night will be on a rate of 8p per kWh on average, as opposed to 12.1p during the day.
Other types of storage heaters?
There are several main types of storage heater that all work in slightly different ways. These include:
Manual storage heaters
These are the most basic kind of storage heater and also the most affordable. They store heat overnight and slowly release it throughout the day. They are not the most cost effective as they will continue to heat until they are manually switched off.
Automatic storage heaters
These feature in-built control options such as thermostats which let you control the amount of thermal energy both stored and released according to the room in which they are situated. Other automatic features include a combination system which incorporates a more traditional convection heating option. This offers on demand heating as and when you need it.
Quantum storage heaters
The most modern, efficient and expensive type of heater, these use fan-assisted operation to use less power when releasing heat. They also feature high quality LCD control panels which allow for accurate temperature selection to create a heating programme that suits your needs. They do cost more as an initial investment but will save you money over time
Storage heater features
Features common to storage heaters include:
- Boost function to give extra warmth when you need it
- Fan assist to dispel heat more effectively
- Programmable schedules to let you customise your heating plan
- Size setting to allow you to adjust for the size of the room
- Remote control so you don’t have to get up to adjust the temperature
Features common to more modern and high end heaters include open window sensors and Wi-fi controls – all of which aim to give you more control over your heating throughout the day. Major brands of heater include Dimplex, Creda, Vent Axia and Stiebel Eltron.
Dimplex’s Quantum storage heater claims to be the most advanced and economical off peak heater available. You can programme it with daily and weekly schedules. You can set the room temperature and it will start to learn your habits to be more efficient.
Advantages of storage heaters
There are a number of key benefits and advantages of using storage heaters in your home. While gas heating is generally the most affordable, if you are not connected to the mains then this is a good option. Here’s why:
- Storage heaters use cheaper off peak electricity to heat the home making use of cheaper night time rates offered by Economy 7 and 10 meters and tariffs
- Modern storage heaters are much more efficient than they have been in the past, with more control over your heating – including automatic and quantum ranges
- Many modern storage heaters include a built-in thermostat, which means they only release heat when it is needed
- Installation is very simple with no need for miles of pipework and cabling
- They are very quiet to run, even when there is a fan convector
- They are more compatible with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar than other forms of heating
Disadvantages of storage heaters
However, it is not all good news for storage heaters. They do have a few key drawbacks which makes them a less preferable option for some people. These disadvantages include:
- They are weather dependent, meaning it is easy to under or over heat your home during periods of warmer or colder weather
- If you do have a gas connection, using this kind of heating is always going to be the more expensive option, even using Economy 7 hours to charge up
- Basic storage heater models can be very inefficient
- There will be some unavoidable heating overnight when the heaters are charging
- In the evening, often when you need it most, much of the heating power is already used up
Updated on 24 Feb, 2021