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Storage heaters have been around since the 1960s and have long been the old reliable for heating your home, that was really only a solution when mains gas wasn't available, and you could avail of cheap night-time electricity tariffs. But since then, many more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient technologies have entered the market. It may be time to modernise your home heating system and drastically improve your energy efficiency and spending.
Storage heaters work by storing thermal energy in heat-retaining ceramic bricks during the night, when electricity rates are cheapest such as Economy 7, and that heat is then slowly released during the day without any electricity being used. Some storage heaters can be turned on during the day when needed but obviously at a cost due to higher electricity tariffs.
If you have bought a storage heater recently or are looking to buy one, it is more than likely to be Lot20 compliant, which means that they meet a minimum energy efficiency rating of 38% for a heat output above 250W (part of the European Ecodesign Directive from 2018). Modern storage heaters have digital programmers, room temperature controls, fans to distribute the heat better and open window sensors- so somewhat more energy efficient than their predecessors.
Storage heaters can vary in price with most costing upwards of £200 with newest models with additional efficiency features being more expensive. High heat-retention storage heaters are also available and retain heat up to 45% for as long as 24 hours. Prices for more energy efficient and modern storage heaters however can be up to £800 per heater.
If your storage heaters are the conventional manual ones, then they have no timing controls, meaning that you have to switch them on and off manually. There is no control over the temperature output so no automatic switch off when you reach your desired temperature so you tend to overheat your house during the day and you run out of heat in the evening when it is most needed.
Storage heaters are now mostly used to supplement existing heating systems so it doesn't make sense to use something that is essentially more costly and inefficient in addition to your existing heating set up.
If you have decided to upgrade your current electric storage heaters or are simply exploring your options when it comes to electric heating systems then here are some things to consider:
There are many different types of electric heaters currently on offer (electric fan heaters, convection heaters, oil-filled electric radiators, storage heaters and glass panel heaters, infrared heating panels) and everyone's needs are different so knowing what your heating requirements are is important.
Electric heaters are divided into two groups: those that use convection heat transfer by heating the air (fans, radiators or oil filled radiators) or radiant heaters such as infrared heaters that use radiation to heat up objects directly.
Things to look out for in alternative replacements for electric storage radiators are:
Running costs are a big factor so you´re also likely looking to find out what electric heater is the most economical to replace your electric storage heaters. Running costs will depend on the power rating of the heater (measured in kW kilowatts or W watts).
Usually are small and portable, and most suitable for use in smaller spaces where heat is needed quickly- not ideal for prolonged use. Fan heaters warm the air in the space by drawing in ambient air from the back, over a heating element and out through the front vent by an in-built fan. This process is called forced convection. They can be noisy, and the heat produced is lost quickly once the heater is turned off, so not very effective for long term use. Are considered to have one of the highest running costs per hour.
Heaters that work by convection drawing cool air from below, across a heating element and distributing hot air out through the top vent. This hot air then circulates around the room before cooling and beginning the whole process again. They can take a while to make a room feel warm but will heat a room evenly. Need to be controlled by a thermostat to limit their usage otherwise can be costly to run.
Electric radiators produce heat on demand and distribute it around the room by convection, maintaining a good average temperature throughout the space. Most modern electric radiators have a much greater functionality allowing you to manage your electrical heating using built in thermostats and zoning the heat in your home where and when it is needed.
Compared to storage heaters, with electric radiators you don't have to worry about what tariff you are on and if used properly, with improved efficiency, less electricity is used overall resulting in cheaper running costs compared to electric storage heaters. However, they are considered to be the least energy efficient heater because they have very high wattage per heat provided.
A portable space heater that works by radiation and convection and are great for long lasting heat, designed for use in small spaces and for set periods of time. The radiator is filled with oil which is heated up by an element and the heat is then transferred to the outside casing of the radiator. The oil retains heat so will continue to emit heat even after it has been turned off and many also have thermostats to control the heat output. Are considered relatively energy efficient if used in moderation.
A renewable, low-carbon heating system that requires outside space, extracting existing heat from the air or the ground beneath your home (air source or ground source). Can provide hot water and heat for central heating which will need radiators or underfloor heating to be distributed. Heat pumps are an expensive investment initially but are a good long term, environmentally friendly solution.
Infrared heaters are a radiant type of heater that don't use air to transport heat, instead heat is transferred through *FAR infrared waves that transfer heat directly to objects in front of it, heating furnishings as well as solid objects including the people in the room. The heat produced is not affected by drafts, so an open window or door won't lead to any heat loss. Infrared heaters placed in each room can be controlled individually to allow you to heat your home by zoning, meaning that you only use them when and where they are needed which is a cost saving.
An Infrared heating panel provides a very efficient conversion of electricity to heat so they are one of the cheapest heaters to run, thus making it very cost-effective. For this reason, Infrared is one of the most efficient and modern heating solutions on the market.
Infrared heaters use modern infrared heating technology that are beautiful to look at. They can be wall-mounted heating panels, mirror heating panels, picture heating panels, sleek glass heating panels, towel dryer or designer furnishings that hang from the ceiling doubling up as light fixtures.
* Note: The panels described here are infrared panels that use 'far infrared' technology that emits 'far infrared' radiant heat. This means they have a much broader distribution of heat and no bright orange glow. While a halogen heater uses infrared technology, this is 'near infrared' that produces high temperature, orange glowing, directional heat such as patio heaters and bar heaters.
Keep in mind that the right modern electric heaters can actually save you money if you choose a quality product that is used in the most efficient way as it has been designed. So, it's important you get the right advice when it comes to choosing what type best suits your home and your needs.
Switching from storage heaters to an electric central heating alternative sounds like something you know you should do? It's easier than you think and definitely the right long-term choice that you know you will be glad you made. All you need to do is:
Set-up and program your thermostats, timers and link with the smartphone software provided with your new heating system.