Electric Heating Options – Lower Cost Warmth

Reduce home heating cost
Keeping warm – cutting the cost of your heating. How to get lower cost warmth using the usual tricks and options you my not be familiar with – infra-red heater panels.

Higher energy costs, lower temperatures…

I think all of us are now suffering the effects of the cost-of-living crisis, primarily driven by supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine; if that wasn’t enough to deal with, the meteorological gods, have now summoned weather direct from the Arctic and the UK with sub-zero temperatures now feel more like Siberia than the Indian summer we’ve been enjoying in recent months… This colder weather, brings many challenges, not least the matter of keeping ourselves warm, made even more problematic with the sky-high costs of energy – whether that be gas, oil or electric.

The global rise of wholesale gas has had the knock-on effect of driving up the price we pay by three or four times, making it unaffordable for many millions of folks, particularly the elderly and those of us on limited incomes. Whereas in recent years it was normal to pay an average of £50-100 a month for energy, this could well now be four times that amount. I would expect that some larger and poorly insulated homes, could face an annual bill exceeding £5,000 a year.

The combination of colder weather and sky-high energy prices, brings into sharp focus the efficiency of your home and your heating systems… It’s a simple fact, that if your home is poorly insulated, it’ll cost you more to heat it, whatever heating method you use whether electric, gas or oil. However, those that will be hit the hardest, are folk who are unlucky enough to heat their homes with electric convection heaters…

While modern electric heat pumps, can offer an efficiency of up to 400%, traditional panel or fan heaters are basically 1:1 or 100% in other words you put 1 kWh of electrical energy in, you’ll get 1 kWh of heating out. Most convection panel or freestanding radiators are rated at 2kW, in other words every hour they are switched on and working at full power, they will be using up to 2 kWh of energy… At the current price cap of 34p/kWh, that’s basically 70p an hour and if your home has two or three of these running all day for say 12 hours, that could well exceed £20 a day! This of course doesn’t include your other electric usage, including heating hot water and cooking, so I fear a bill of over £500 a month will be a reality for many.

Can we do anything about this without spending a fortune upgrading our whole heating system?

How do I reduce the cost of heating my house?

I think first and foremost, we need to focus on retaining as much heat as possible, minimise heat leakage, whether up a chimney, through gaps around doors and most importantly through windows. Many older homes don’t have double glazing, which means heat leaks straight out through the panes of glass – even double-glazed windows, suffer heat loss.

  • It’s important where possible to use blinds or curtains to insulate, especially on your larger windows.
    • Secondly, reduce the space you heat to the minimum. If you are able to close doors in rooms you aren’t using, turn off heating altogether – ideally only heat the room you use the most, such as your living room and kitchen.

I think it goes without saying, that heating a small space, even a poorly insulated one, is significantly cheaper than keeping a larger space warm!

Consider Infra-red Panels

In terms of cutting the cost of your electric heating, once you’ve reduced the space you’re heating, I would suggest investing is infra-red heater panels, rather than traditional convection electric radiators or fan heaters… While infrared panels aren’t as efficient as modern heat pumps, they are considerably more efficient and cheaper to run than most of the other electric heating options…

The cost of running an infrared panel, versus an electrical convection heater, is far cheaper as they require less power output to provide the same level of heat. For instance, a 600w infrared panel, will typically provide the same level of heating comfort as a 1500w convection heater, so they roughly require a third of the electricity and therefore will be a lot cheaper to run! In our example above, the 600w infrared heater will cost nearer 20p an hour vs the 70p of a traditional 2kW convection heater.

Not only that, but with infrared heating panels, your room will heat up more quickly. Because the infrared works like the sun, in that it warms up objects, rather than the air in the room. You’ll feel the effects a lot quicker too. Infrared heaters evenly heat objects in the room, be it a chair, a wall, or even you! The heat then radiates from these objects and creates a stable and comfortable temperature in your home.

In addition, infrared panels are one of the least intrusive heating solutions. They are effectively flat panels, a bit like a small whiteboard. As they are really lightweight, they can be hung on the wall, or even attached to the ceiling, where they heat a wider area, saving you even more energy. They can even be disguised as paintings or mirrors, masking them more attractive.

There are a number of factors that determine the cost of installing infrared heating…..

Your initial outlay will depend on whether you are looking for a single panel to warm a room, or a larger system that covers a wider area, or even the whole house. The cost of a single infrared panel heater is typically to be found online for between £80 and £180, depending on the power, size, and features of the heater you choose. Most folk tend to opt for a panel which is about the size of a large TV, but preferences range from those who want it to be a feature or centrepiece for the room, to those who want something that is smaller and less intrusive.

Thankfully, infrared heaters are easy to install yourself, they simply plug into a standard wall socket and can be propped up or hung on the wall using a small nail, similar to what you’d use to hang a picture. Some suppliers will add installation into the purchase price if you are buying direct from them.

Hopefully this blog proves helpful to those who rely on electric heating and are looking for ways to reduce their bill. Remember, if you have any experiences or hacks that you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below…

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