Electric Heating can be expensive to run especially with Electricity costs at historically record levels, so what are the alternatives?
First of all, lets dispel some of the myths surrounding Electric Heating Appliances. All Electric Heating is 100% efficient, this means that for every Kilowatt of Electricity Consumption which the Electric Heater draws from the mains supply, a Kilowatt is produced in usable heat, this applies to ALL electric forms of heating regardless of its cost, except Air source heat pumps which are the ONLY types of Electric heating which produce more heat than the energy they consume.
So if you buy an Electric Heater with a 2KW rating, then exactly 2KW will be produced as heat. No matter what you may read in relation to advertising or manufacturers claims in respect of Electric Heating appliances, you will get exactly the same amount of heat from out of the heater as it draws in Electricity Consumption, so don’t believe any claims that one Electric Heater is more efficient than another, as you cannot produce something from nothing!, the only exception to this rule are ground source and air source heat pumps.
The only difference between the many different forms of Electric Heating, is the perception of the heat produced and how fast they actually produce warmth. For example, an Electric Space Heater such as a Convector Heater or Electric Fire will first have to warm the air in the room, before it begins to warm the people sitting in the room. In comparison, an Halogen Heater will directly heat a person, but will have little impact on warming the actual room.
These differences are referred too as Space Heating and Personal Heating. Space heating includes Electric Heating appliances designed to first heat the room, such as Storage Heaters, Convector Heaters, Fan Heaters, Electric Fires and Underfloor Heating. Personal Heating includes Heating Appliances such as Halogen Heaters, Electric Blankets, Quartz Heaters, Electric Heating Throws and Foot Warmers and these are designed to heat the person directly rather than heating the air in the room first.
During the current Energy & Cost of Living Crisis Energy savings can be made by switching to using Personal Heating which heats the person, as opposed to a Convector Heater which first has to heat the air in the room, so using a 1200 watt halogen heater will work out 50% cheaper to run than a 2400 watt convector heater saving money whilst maintaining the same level of personal comfort in terms of feeling warm, however the halogen heater will need to be pointed at the person / people to get the benefit, but the running cost will be half, however the rest of the room will still be cold.
Space Heating Appliances are the best choice for large families in modern well insulated properties, this is so the heat from the Electric Heating Appliance is maximised, the room is heated quickly and only a minimum amount of heat is likely to be lost through the fabric of the building or negated by cold draughts.
There are also some differences in the speed in which the chosen Electric Heater will heat the room, for example an electric heating appliance which contains a fan, such as a fan heater or fan assisted convector heater will room the air in the room far faster than a convector heater, storage heater or traditional electric bar fire.
Personal Heating Appliances such as Halogen Heaters would be the choice for people who live alone or couples and small families who are on a strict budget and live in old, poorly insulated properties, where trying to heat both the air and person would be impossible or at least extremely expensive. By their design, Personal Electric Heating appliances are often cheaper to run, this is not as a result of them being any more efficient than electric space heaters, its just down to the fact that they are designed to heat a person rather than an entire room and therefore they require less Electric Power input and therefore are much cheaper to run.
If you have decided to choose Electrical Space Heating, then you must ensure that the rating output of the Electric Heater is capable of heating the entire room. Many people are under the impression that one single 2kw or 3kw Electric Heater will heat their entire lounge or living area, and sadly this is not the case, as even an average sized, well insulated lounge may require as much as 5kw worth of heat input when the outside temperature drops below freezing.
You can calculate the amount of heat required to heat a given room by using one of the many room size heat calculators which are available online, simply enter in the room dimensions and the calculator will then display the amount of heat input (kw) that would be required to comfortably heat it during winter, this can then be used to calculate the rating of the Electric Heaters which you will need to buy in which to heat the room.
If Electric Space heating remains the preferred choice, and as most living areas will require at least two electric heaters in order to heat them adequately its advisable to fit one heater at opposite ends of the room, in order to maximise their heat and efficiency, most space heaters are wall mounted and this is the best means of securing if the heaters to to be permanent.
Heating by Electricity whilst being the most convenient is also the most expensive form of heating and according to Cornwall Insight its likely to remain this way for the rest of the decade.
If you are finding the cost of heating your home using Electricity prohibitive and Gas isn’t available then I would highly recommend considering using a different method of heating, such as the new Japanese range of portable space heaters, powered by Kerosene (heating oil) which cost around 30% to run (Oct 2023) compared to similarly rated Electric heating and don’t require any installation. Click Here to read about my own experience in swapping Electric Heating for Kerosene Inverter Heaters and the cost savings they bring.