Are Electric Radiators Expensive to Run?

Expensive radiator comparison

Some homes are not able to be heated by central heating - which uses the gas supply to heat water and pump it into radiators around the house. So what should people do in these instances?

For many, using an electric radiator is a great alternative as they are low maintenance and can be used to heat one individual room as opposed to the whole home. However, they have, in the past, been known to be expensive in terms of running costs. Is that still the case?

In our guide to electric radiators, we identify how electric radiators work and therefore how much they cost to run.

How do electric radiators work?

Knowing how electric radiators work is helpful when trying to understand if electric radiators are expensive to run or not. For, how electric radiators work, determines how much electricity an electric radiator uses. In short, electric radiators contain a special liquid which gets hot when the radiator is turned on. As a result, it expands so that it flows through the system. When the entire radiator gets hot, the heat leaves the surface to warm the air around it - thus heating a room.

What factors can affect how expensive electric radiators are to run?

There are a number of factors that will affect how expensive electric radiators are to run. Briefly, they are: your electricity provider's tariff, how much you use your electric radiator, the effectiveness of insulation in your room.

All these factors are large variables which can have large implications for your final bill of using your electric radiator. The higher your tariff with your electricity provider, the more your radiator will cost to run each time you switch it on.

However, you may set it to a higher setting as the insulation in your room is poor. Hot air, therefore, does not stay hot for long, and is replaced with cooler air. As a result, you naturally turn your radiator up - when actually it may be just as beneficial to stop draughts coming into the room. Closing the curtains, shutting the door and using draught minimisers can be helpful. Double glazing can also help - though this is obviously an added expense.

Finally, how much you use your radiator will also have an impact on how expensive it is to run. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the more you use it, the more electricity you use and so consequently the higher your bill. However, there is an argument for having the radiator on a lower setting for a longer period of time versus a higher setting for a shorter period of time. The reason for this being is that heating air from cold takes a lot more energy than heating air that is warm. It may actually end up that your radiator costs less to run being on for longer but lower.

How much electricity does an electric radiator use

Perhaps the easiest variable to gauge and put a price on is how much an electric radiator uses to heat up to full capacity. From there, it may be a bit easier to figure out if electric radiators are a good option for you and your home. While models obviously vary in size, all electric radiators are generally 100% energy efficient. So it is then the size of the radiator you purchase will have a material impact on how much it costs to run them.

The most common sizes in the UK at the moment are:

  • 330 W
  • 500 W
  • 750 W
  • 1000 W
  • 1500 W
  • 2000 W

As you can see, that is a large differential from the smallest to the largest. However, figuring out how much each costs to run uses the same calculation. Imagine you have your radiator on for five hours a day. That will require you to times the kW of energy your radiator requires by five to calculate your kWh number. Then, you need to know what your tariff is per kWh. That's how much your radiator takes to run. So if your tariff sets the price of 15p per kWh, the mid-size radiator (1000W) would cost 15p to run per hour as it uses 1kW in total. For five hours that would cost 75p.

What are the best electric radiators?

Answering what are the best electric radiators is difficult as it will vary according to the space you want to heat and how well insulated that space is. If you have a small room, you only want a small radiator (particularly if the room does not suffer from many draughts). If you have a larger room, you need to think about increasing the size to ensure optimum heating results.

Electric heaters and electric radiators are a good option for those that want to up the heating in a room in their home, or if central heating from a gas boiler is not available. However, they can be expensive to run - so knowing how electric radiators work will help you choose the best and most suitable electric radiator for a room in your home. Check out our range to see which one is best for you.

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