Electric heat storage (Night Storage Heaters) To Main Index

Electric Storage Heating

Meters, Tariffs and Operating Costs

It would be very expensive indeed to use storage heaters unless you had access to cheap off-peak electricity.

Most energy suppliers offer three separate prices for electricity: day, evening and weekends, and night, and the meter will automatically make the switch between them, so for example you can save money by setting the timer on your dishwasher so that it comes on only after the evening rate has started. (Most safety organisations advise against putting dishwashers and and washing machines on a timer to turn them on only when the night rate has started.)

However if you have storage heaters you should choose an energy supplier which offers you a special deal for an interruptible supply, which automatically turns them on only when electricity is at its cheapest: not all energy companies do.

Our meter has two separate outputs. One goes to a distribution board which supplies the 13A ring mains, the 24 hour immersion heater and the lighting etc. The meter automatically switches between day, evening and weekend, and night rates. The second output, for the interruptible supply, is controlled to give a total of seven hours a day. Of course the core in each heater will normally reach the correct temperature, and so the heating elements will be turned off, in a lot less than seven hours. Because this special interruptible rate is intended only for storage and immersion heaters it is illegal to connect anything else to this supply. Interruptible rates are further discussed on the Page on Interruptible Supplies.

The typical price per unit (kilowatt hour) of peak-time electricity has always been higher than the typical price for gas, everywhere and whoever your supplier is, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future (but I cannot really see gas lighting coming back). Our rate for interuptible electricity is also higher than our gas price. Looking into the future, for reasons discussed on the Page on Interruptible Energy, the cost of interruptible energy is likely to fall while the price of gas is likely to rise.

However, two other factors need to be taken into account. The first is that in forty years we have not spent even one penny on repairs and maintenance (nor have we ever had any sort of breakdown).

We live in a large Victorian house on four floors with lots of stairs and landings. Forty years ago we needed a heater in the hall which would keep the hall and all the stairs and all the landings “nice and warm” twenty four hours a day and seven days a week; forty years later we still want exactly the same, and forty years later the same heater is still doing just that: it is what our friends and other visitors comment on when they come in from the cold. Of course I am absolutely certain that it costs more to run than a radiator connected to a modern gas central heating system; I am equally certain that a radiator connected to a forty year old gas central heating system that has had no repairs or maintenance for forty years would cost more to run than a modern storage heater; I am equally certain that such a system does not exist.

Over forty years we have replaced the other heaters, one at a time at a cost of a few hundred pounds each and with no disruption to the heating in any other room, not because they have stopped working but because our heating needs and expectations have changed, for example what was a bedroom for a teenage girl is now a double guest room used mainly for the storage of hundreds of photograph albums going back to 1860

And each time we have replaced a heater the new heater is even more efficient and gives even better control over the temperature of the room (each room) that today, compared with gas after including maintenance and repairs and necessary replacements, we think we are better off with electricity.

©Barry Gray July 2020