Electric heating can come in a range of different types and they can all be controlled differently. With electricity prices at the current high levels, using your controls correctly can help you save money and energy.
With energy prices increasing to record levels, It’s worth having a think about what we call your ‘heating regime’. This is the times you use your heating, how often you have it on for, and what temperature you heat your home to.
Under more ‘normal’ circumstances, you may set your heating to come on once in the morning for an hour and then for a couple of hours in the evening. If you’re now spending more time at home you may require to have the heating on during the day as well.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have to spend a lot more money on heating your home. Changing how you use your heating controls could reduce your costs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, by using your heating controls correctly, you could save over £200 a year.
Storage Heaters are composed of an electrical element inside a thermal brick. They usually use off-peak electricity to heat up the brick, which can retain the heat for some time. The stored heat is then given off by opening the grills on the heater and can occasionally be fan assisted.
Most storage heaters are wired separately from the electric cables in the rest of the home, this means they use the off-peak electricity supply.
Getting the right tariff
You get charged different amounts for on-peak and off-peak energy – this is called an Economy 7 tariff, where you get cheaper off-peak energy at night.
Many households in Scotland that were built with storage heating may have what is known as a restricted meter. This is where billing is more complex and you may have a meter with 3 readings on it, or even more than 1 electricity meter in your home. You should speak to your supplier if you have this set up to ensure you’re on the best tariff.
It is vital you are on the correct tariff if you have storage heaters, otherwise, you will not benefit from the off-peak electricity rates and you will have expensive bills.
Using the controls
Most storage heaters have two controls: INPUT and OUTPUT, they can usually be located on the top-right hand side of the heater under a flap.
Due to the nature of storage heaters and variations in outside temperature, you may need to check and adjust your heaters each night to get the most benefit out of them.
INPUT controls the amount of heat that is drawn into the heater. It should be set higher, the colder the weather is.
OUTPUT controls the rate at which the heat is released from the heater. The higher it is the quicker it is depleted. In order to make the heat last longer it should be turned down lower. If you struggle to make your heating last into the evening, keep it low during the day and then at night turn it up to a higher setting.
Some storage heaters may have additional controls such as a fan to help push the warm air into the room.
If you find that, your heating is not matching up with your routine you may need to adjust your controls. In addition, if there are variations in outside temperature from day-to-day you may need to adjust your controls each night.
Modern Electric Radiators
Modern electric radiators work more similarly to gas heating than storage heaters as they use energy when you require it, rather than being charged up overnight. Heating controls for modern electric radiators can be very similar to gas system too.
Getting the right tariff
With modern electric radiators, off-peak tariffs such as Economy 7 or restricted meters may not be cheaper. Some suppliers may offer Economy 10 tariffs, which can provide cheaper periods during the daytime when you require the heating. You should speak to your supplier to ensure you’re on the best tariff.
You may have a room thermostat if your modern electric radiators are linked together. A room thermostat stops your home from getting warmer than necessary. It will turn the heating on until it reaches the desired target temperature. Once your home reaches that temperature, it’ll turn the heating off until the temperature drops.
You should set your room thermostat for the lowest comfortable temperature.
We would recommend a comfortable temperature of between 18 and 21°C. Remember, this is the temperature for the overall home. You may want to vary your heating slightly between rooms.
Each individual heater may have its own programmer that can be used to set target temperatures and operating times.
Programmers work great if you want to set your heating for specific times, for example, when you get up in the morning or come home from work.
Only set the programmer to come on when you know the heating is going to be needed. Remember, you’re wasting money if you’re heating your home when it’s unoccupied.
Top tip! If you’re struggling to understand how to use your programmer find its make and model and search this on YouTube, you’ll likely be able to find several demonstration videos.
Regardless of your heating system, if you have electric heating you will likely have an immersion heater for heating your hot water.
Like electric heating, controls for immersion heaters may vary. Some may be linked to your storage heater and come on automatically if you have a restricted meter. Others may have temperature dials and programmers.
If you can set your immersion heater to come on during off-peak periods. You should maintain a temperature of at least 60°C in your hot water tank.
You may also have a BOOST function for your hot water, which will cause the immersion heater to come on using the on-peak rate.
Would you like some more advice on using your heating controls? Cosy Kingdom is a free and impartial energy advice service available to everyone living in Fife.
Our energy advisors can be contacted by: