• James Kinch

Storage Heaters vs Electric Heaters

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

The age-old battle between storage heaters and electric heaters continues to be debated ever since the introduction of storage heaters in the late 40s. With electric heaters stretching back to the 1890s, it's no surprise that these types of heating systems will still divide people as to which is better. This post will aim to break down their strengths and weaknesses and provide you with a balanced argument so that you know which to choose for your home.

A storage heater next to an electric heater. Text reads storage heater vs electric heater.

Storage Heaters

Storage heaters are a type of electric heater. They release heat by warming up internal ceramics, typically at night on the Economy 7 tariff, which is then released slowly over-time throughout the night and then during the day.

Cost of Storage Heaters

Are storage heaters expensive to run? They generally utilise Economy 7, the tariff that kicks in from 12-7 at night. This tariff costs a lot less than during the day when energy demand is much higher. However, a lot of storage heaters prior to 2018 do not have access to certain controls that are now required by the Government in new installations of storage heaters. This means that if you have a pre-2018 storage heater, it is unlikely that the controls that you use are very effective and efficient. While storage heater instillation can be cheap, overall, if you do not have full control over the efficiency, they could cost a lot more than you were expecting.

Advantages of Storage Heaters

As previously said, they take larger advantage of the cheaper night-time tariff and are generally quite cheap to install. As a tried and tested technology, they have become low maintenance machines within the last couple of decades meaning they won't need much servicing. They also won't burn fossil fuels directly, a particularly important note in a time filled with warnings about climate change.

Disadvantages of Storage Heaters

Besides being bulky and possibly leaving stains due to a build-up of moisture from the internal ceramics, the main downside to electric storage heaters is the lack of control that you have, especially on those from pre-2018.

In 2018, the Government kickstarted its ECO3 scheme with new targets after a report documented that not enough was being done to help out those with inefficient heating systems and poor insulation. By forcing energy companies to pay out to those in need in the form of grants, it levelled the playing field so that a lot more people should be able to get free storage heater replacements. This means that due to the lack of control over how heat is expelled from storage heaters, people are now opting to have their storage heater replaced.

Man sitting down and putting ceramic bricks inside a storage heater.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters, that are connected to a gas central heating system or that use a heat pump (for those without gas), heat the home by using radiators. While similar to newer storage heaters, they do have their differences.

Cost of Electric Heaters

While they don't take advantage of an Economy 7 deal, electric heaters will cost you the same at any time of day. The initial amount of money to have these supplied and installed is higher than storage heaters, however, as previously stated about the Government's ECO scheme, those who are on benefits or a low-income can apply for grant to improve the insulation of their property, have a new replacement central heating system or if the house has no way of heating their home properly, using the free boiler scheme called first time central heating.

Advantages of Electric Heaters

For those looking to save money wherever possible and you don't qualify for an ECO grant, you will be happy to know that the installation process is very easy if you're looking to add a radiator to a room, just requiring a few screws.

Due to the flexibility of the design of radiators, they can be styled to fit a home of any size and also depending on the room that they're in.

The main advantage of an electric heating system is the control that the homeowner has over the heat. New electric heaters are efficient, clean and allow for 24 hour control over the temperature. You're able to impose a limit to keep energy costs low in your home. This smart reader will also tell you about your energy consumption, making sure that you don't pay too much every month.

Disadvantages of Electric Heaters

The only real disadvantages to electric heaters is that you may not be able to take full-control over them if you are living as a tenant in a rented accommodation or social housing, they may not be as efficient as more modern heating (if you happen to have an older radiator system) and there is no Economy 7 tariff available. However, this shouldn't stop you from seeking them out. Tenants are still able to apply for the ECO grants (installation consent is needed from the landlord).

Close up of radiator with man on his knees working on the radiator.

Conclusion - Which Central Heating System Should I Choose?

Electric heater next to a storage heater with a skewed question mark in between them.

Unless you have a very specific living situation that wouldn't allow for a heat pump or gas central heating, you should be avoiding storage heaters in 2021. It is hard to justify installing a new one when the Government's ECO grant is available. Even if you don't qualify for the scheme, the high price to install will be worth it due to the money saved from heating your home more efficiently.

Another great way to save money on heating your home is to make sure that you have sufficient insulation. Having poor insulation can result in 33% heat loss which increases based on the size of the home.

If you're concerned about your insulation, even if you don't qualify for ECO, we'll supply and install your insulation at Broad Oak.

Best Replacement for Storage Heaters

The best replacements for storage heaters depend on your situation, however, we'd recommend a heat pump or gas central heating. Some situations may call for biomass (wood-burning stoves) heating. Although it may sound old-fashioned, they can produce enough heat to efficiently warm up a room and also provide a calming aura.

If you're interested in upgrading your central heating to something more renewable, we can install solar, biomass or other renewable energy solutions. We can install new boilers and systems within two weeks and we are available for 24 hours, 365 days of the year for call-outs.

Don't have central heating at all or it's costing you a fortune to run? Find out if you're available for a free boiler as part of the Government's free boiler scheme under ECO. You can find out if you're entitled to first time central heating now.

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