Should we change our electric storage heaters to save money?

February 26, 2013

Should we change our electric storage heaters to save money?

Daily Telegraph 15 Aug 2012


Q We are in our seventies and increasingly concerned about the running costs of our off-peak electric storage heaters in our two-bedroom bungalow. We appreciate that gas may be cheaper to run, but at our age we are trying to avoid the upheaval of installing a gas central heating system.

We have read of a new German-engineered electrical heating system with a clay core, which is easy to install and runs off 13 amp sockets, which they claim can save 30-40 per cent in the first year alone against the old storage heating system. What are your thoughts?

JA, Glasgow

A Clay-cored electric heaters are not a “new system”, and advertising used to market them is frequently misleading. All electrical resistance heaters cost exactly the same to run, because 100 per cent of the electrical power is converted into heat. Any claim that these radiators use 30- 40 per cent less electricity to heat a room cannot be true.

A theme common to many of the adverts is that the heaters run for only 15-20 minutes per hour, thus somehow saving electricity. But any thermostat-controlled heater will turn itself off periodically to maintain a constant room temperature. You will get exactly the same heating effect, and exactly the same-sized electricity bill, using convector heaters or oil-filled radiators costing £20 from Argos. There is no need to give thousands of pounds to any of the dozens of firms who have sprung up importing these clay-cored heaters.

In your own case, you would find your bills skyrocketing, because you would be using expensive day-rate electricity, rather than cheap off-peak electricity.

Your heating system is the cheapest you could get. Town gas is practically the same cost per unit as off-peak electricity, but incurs thousands of pounds’ outlay for installation and upkeep. If I were you, I would stick with your existing storage heaters.