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Electric Storage Heating

Other people’s attitudes

Most people with electric storage heaters find the biggest problem with them is the attitude of other people, from Cabinet Ministers downwards.

The latest Government leaflet on “Smart Meters” stresses the advantage of them: they can switch off your immersion heater at peak times so you can take advantage of cheaper electricity at off peak times! We have of course had such a meter for forty years - but storage heating is not mentioned once in the whole leaflet!

This Page assumes you have read the other Pages on electric storage heating, but particularly the Page on early storage heaters.

In the early days of storage heaters many people did not fully understand how to use the input control, so the house might sometimes be too hot in the morning or too cold in the evening. Most people have met someone who remembers those days: “You don’t want night storage heaters, you can’t control them the way you can your gas central heating system.”

“They’re terribly expensive to run.” Well, yes, this could have been true forty years ago, but only if you had not mastered the input control so that first thing every morning the house was so hot you had to open all the windows. Over the past forty years, for some of the years before we started installing Quantum heaters our total annual energy bill for the year has been a little higher than those for our friends living in similar houses with gas central heating - but during the whole of this time we have spent not one penny on repairs or maintenance. As described in the Page on The Future of Storage Heating the cost of the interrupible electricity used by storage heaters is likely to fall whereas the price of gas is likely to rise.

Storage heaters are, and have always been, so good at keeping the house warm and so reliable that many people, including ourselves, are still using heaters first put in forty years ago. They do of course look old-fashioned, and in many circles “old fashioned” is used as a derogatory term: nothing old-fashioned can be any good. People cannot help noticing old-fashioned storage heaters, they do not notice modern ones, and so many people think of all storage heaters as old fashioned. One tv advertisement even “sneered at” storage heaters as an example of something old-fashioned and therefore not any good.

Few shops or companies display or promote modern storage heaters, and you never see them advertised on tv, so many people do not realise they are still being made: in tv programmes where they renovate an old house they always replace old storage heaters with gas central heating, never with new storage heaters.

Going one stage further, information about Government grants for home improvements either does not mention or specifically excludes storage heaters.

Storage heaters are not central heating. If you fill in a questionnaire, for example with the guarantee for a new electric toothbrush, you will be asked to tick a box central heating: gas/oil/solid fuel/none. If you tick the none box, within a few days you will be receiving mail and telephone calls from people who clearly think that no central heating means no heating at all..

The 2011 national census defined a central heating system as one where a single heat source heated more than one room. You were then asked what sort of central heating you had - but no questions about any other type of heating.

When I was in hospital in September 2016 before I could be discharged I was asked some questions about my home and life-style to check that it was safe for me to go home. One of them was “Do you have central heating.” I said No and the interviewer said Oh - this concerned her. I explained about storage heaters, even gave her my web site address, and she was very impressed - but she still could only write no central heating on her form.

© Barry Gray September 2019

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