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Electric Radiators “What are the running costs”

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The question on everyone’s lips.

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me this I’d be very rich! But it’s really not a mystery. You are the only one who knows how much your electric radiators will cost to run, not us! Why? Because you know how much you pay for your electricity, what your insulation is like, what your glazing is like etc.

You also know how you will use your heating. Will you programme it so that it runs on the setback temperature whilst the room is unoccupied? Or will you just use the manual control and perhaps forget to turn it down when you go to bed? What temperature do you like your rooms to be? The guidelines suggest 21 degrees in the living room and 18 degrees in all other rooms. However, if you want your room to be 23 degrees, the radiator will draw more power.

You are also in control of your energy habits around the house. If you have heated the living room to 21 degrees whilst watching TV in the evening, but every time someone leaves the room, they leave the door open, you will let all the warm air out into a cooler space. Do you draw the curtains when it gets dark at night? If not you are wasting energy.

How do you work out how much your electric radiators cost to run? 

The first part to answering the question is a simple equation. Let’s use the 1000w (or 1KW) as an example. All 1Kw electric radiators draw 1Kw of electricity in one hour. Therefore, running costs can be calculated as follows;

No. of hours your radiator will draw power x amount you pay per KwH for your electricity = How much the radiator costs to run.

How do you know how many hours the radiator will draw power for?

The tricky part is figuring out how many hours the radiator will draw power in a 24 hour period. Let’s assume the programme runs at the comfort temperature of 21 degrees for 2 hours in the morning and 4 hours at night and at the setback temperature of 16 degrees the rest of the time. It is clear that the radiator will only draw power for a portion of the heating period. Some companies claim their electric radiators will draw power for ‘x’ percentage of the hour. But this is impossible to predict in customer’s individual circumstances, as it depends on all the variables above along with the external temperature, how many people are in the room etc, all of which effect how quickly the room takes to cool down.

For a real life example of running costs during 'The Beast From the East' 2018 click here.

So we can see it's complicated - but what about comparing electric radiators with gas central heating? 

The problem with comparing the running costs with gas is that you are not comparing like with like. Gas is much cheaper per Kwh but you are likely to use far more units with central heating as you cannot heat and control different rooms independently. All the standardized tests which compare gas and electricity use the BREDEM model, which is based on central heating ie all areas have to be heated at the same time, and doesn’t allow for zonal heating.

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What about storage heaters?

If you compare electric radiators to storage heaters, you are also not comparing like for like. If you compare 7 hours of off peak electricity (which is what storage heaters draw regardless of whether they need it), with 7 hours of standard tariff electricity then of course the storage heaters will appear cheaper. But if you estimate that electric radiators will use 3.5 – 5 hours electricity per day to maintain a constant temperature over a 24 hour period, then the playing field starts to level up.

So in order to achieve the best running costs follow these 7 simple tips

  • Go to a comparison site like the energy shop and make sure you’re on the cheapest standard rate tariff
  • Look into improving your insulation. You may qualify for a government grant to improve your insulation if you are a vulnerable or low income household. Alternatively, your energy supplier may provide insulation as a customer benefit. Call the Energy Saving Advice Service for more info 0300 123 1234.
  • If you cannot afford to improve your glazing, make sure you close your curtains when it’s dark.
  • Improve your energy habits. 
  • Rather than heat your living room to 23 degrees, wear an extra jumper or put a blanket over your lap. This is particularly true for the elderly, who are less mobile. You can also fill a hot water to keep you warm.
  • Do not cover your radiators with clothes or shelves and do not place large pieces of furniture such as sofas in front of them. At best drying clothes on a radiator will cause condensation and damp, at worst it will cause an electric radiator to overheat and break. Blocking the heat output with furniture will cause it to be less efficient.
  • Ensure you programme your radiators, so that you are not heating empty rooms.

If you would like to chat to a member of the VeriSmart Heating team, we will happy to guide you to further advice to reduce your heating bills. You can contact us on 01484 213151

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