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02 Feb 2012 10:02:02

Watt does it cost to run an electric heater?

What does it cost to run an electric heater?
As the weather turns chilly, keeping warm at home is important and it’s tempting to warm up a room with an electric heater, but with concerns over energy bills, can you get energy efficient electric heaters?

Unfortunately not, as all portable electric heaters, whether they are fan heaters, oil filled radiators or halogen heaters, will consume the same amount of electricity and produce the same amount of thermal heat, relative to power input. So a 3kW heater will use 3kW (3000 watts) per hour and cost roughly 43 pence to run* or £3.43* for 8 hours! The power rating (watts/kWs) will dictate the running costs; the higher the watts the more it will cost to run. For a quick comparison see sust-it’s Electric Heating Cost Calculator. http://www.sust-it.net/heating_energy_calculator.php The difference between electric heaters will be in how quickly they deliver the heat, e.g. fan heaters are a good choice for heating specific areas of a room, as you can direct the heat.

Ross from sust-it said, “The best thing to keep your bills down is to keep heat in and drafts out by insulating – low cost solutions such as lined curtains, draft excluders, thermal blinds will help. You must also make sure the heater has a thermostat, and set it to the correct setting to avoiding overheating rooms.”

Which are the best types of heaters?
Well, it depends what you want to heat.
Convection heaters - are best suited for heating enclosed spaces. They operate silently and have a lower fire risk hazard.

Fan heaters - are a good choice for quick heating of enclosed spaces. There is a risk of ignition if they are near furnishings and curtains.

Electric fires (radiative heaters) - these directly warm people and objects in the room, so may be good for warming cold feet, but can be a fire hazard.

Halogen heaters - the advantage of these is that they radiate, (safe infrared spectrum), the heat generated, which is absorbed directly by us, without heating the air first. This makes them suitable for warming people in poorly insulated rooms. Halogen heaters convert up to 86% of their input power to radiant energy.

Oil-filled heaters - these can take longer to heat up, but retain the heat better, similar to storage heaters, and provide heat from all sides.

And what about the new “Dyson Hot” fan heater? Well, it still uses the same amount of energy as other 2kW heaters but it does heat a room up efficiently by directing the heat around better. The sleek design, with no exposed parts to get hot and cause burns, could be a big bonus to parents of small children, or those with elderly relatives. The huge £270 price tag may make it less attractive though.

Other stay warm tips include:

Wear layers – several thin layers of clothing will generally be better than one thick one!

Stay active if you can – get up and move around. Whether you are sat at a desk, or in the chair watching television – a quick walk around will improve your circulation and help you feel warmer.

* Based on the UK Average Tariff of 14.29p per unit.

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