How Much Electric Does A Storage Heater Use?

Each winter, rising energy bills loom large on everyone's minds. Due to this, and in light of the cost of living crisis that’s seeing prices skyrocket, we are all are looking for more cost-effective ways to heat our homes.

Electric storage heaters have been a popular option for many years, but how much electricity do they actually use? This question is crucial when considering if a storage heater is the right choice for your home.

In this article, we'll explore the energy consumption of storage heaters and provide insights into the cost implications of using them.

What is an electric storage heater?

Storage heaters are a type of electric heater commonly found in households that lack a gas supply. They are designed specifically to make the most of off-peak electricity, and, as a result, can help save homeowners money on their fuel bills.

How do storage heaters work?

Throughout the night, storage heaters accumulate and store energy in internal ceramic or clay bricks when there is less strain on the National Grid. This stored heat is then emitted during the day to maintain warmth in your home.

Most storage heaters are well-insulated, allowing them to retain stored heat for an extended period of time. Additionally, they use off-peak energy, so your energy bills are likely to see a reduction. This is particularly beneficial when combined with an off-peak Economy 7 tariff, which helps you save a fair amount of money. You can learn more about the different types and the pros and cons with our guide to storage heaters.

Why is it important to know your storage heater’s energy consumption?

According to the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, over 6 million UK households will fall into fuel poverty when their energy bills reach £2,000 per year. This makes it more important than ever to keep an eye on how much energy your storage heater is using..

While electric storage heaters are cheaper to run than other forms of heating systems, they can lead to spikes in energy bills when not used efficiently.

To ensure that a night storage heater is a cost-effective option for your property, it's crucial to have a night-time electricity tariff in place and clear instructions on how to properly use night storage heater controls.

Factors that affect electricity consumption of storage heaters

The cost of running storage heaters can vary based on several factors. These could include:

The size of heater

The size of the heater will undoubtedly affect how much electricity it consumes. The larger the heater, the more electricity it will use to heat the room. Before purchasing, you should ensure your heater is the right size for your room, otherwise, an oversized heater can lead to wasted energy and increased energy bills.

The four most popular sizes of storage heaters include:

  • 0.85KW storage heater - suitable for bathrooms and background heating of small bedrooms and hallways.
  • 1.7KW storage heater - like the above, they're ideal for smaller rooms.
  • 2.55KW storage heater - suitable for medium-sized areas such as standard living rooms.
  • 3.40KW storage heater - recommended for large living areas.

The type of heater

The type of storage heater can also affect its energy consumption. The five main types of storage heaters are: Manual, automatic, combination storage heaters, fan-assisted and high-heat retention. 

Modern storage heaters come with various features like electronic room temperature controls, digital controls, and sensors. These features can help regulate temperature and prevent overuse even when you’re not in the home. 

Thermostat settings

Manual models typically have input and output controls rather than a thermostat, meaning that you'll need to strike the perfect balance between these two settings. As they lack a thermostat, heat can be emitted at inconvenient times.

Some modern storage heaters come with thermostatic controls so that you can keep a room at the desired temperature.

Insulation of the room

A well-insulated room requires less energy to heat, meaning the storage heater doesn't need to run as long and is more cost-effective. On the other hand, a poorly insulated room loses heat quickly, requiring the storage heater to consume more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature.

The seasons

During the winter months, a storage heater may need to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature, whereas, in warmer weather, the storage heater won't need to be on for as long or at all. This can lead to reduced energy consumption.

Estimating electricity consumption of storage heaters

To find out how much storage heaters cost to run, you first need to find out how much electricity each storage heater consumes. You can do this by checking the metal panel or label on the side or bottom of the unit where the electricity rating is stamped.

If you can't find the label, you can search online by entering the manufacturer's name and the model of the storage heater to find out its electricity consumption information.

Calculation of electricity usage

To calculate the electricity usage of a night storage heater, you can follow this equation:

  • Storage heater consumption in kW x number of hours operated per day = daily electricity usage

For example, if you have a 1.5kW storage heater that runs 8 hours per day, then the daily electricity consumption will be 12 kWh.

Examples of consumption rates for different sizes of storage heaters

Depending on the size of your storage heater, the consumption rate can vary significantly. The Energy Price Cap (EPC) is currently £4,279 per year but the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) brings this down to around £2,500, however, this is not the total figure you pay but the unit cost per kWh. 

The Energy Price Cap is used by energy suppliers to see how much they can charge for each kWh per hour. The Energy Price Guarantee, on the other, limits the amount a supplier can charge.

Although the cost of 1 kWh of electricity is 52p per kWh, this is still capped at 34p by the Energy Price Guarantee.

To calculate the cost, follow this equation:

Power (kW) x Time (hours) x Unit Rate (pence/kWh)

If the unit rate is 34p/kWh for a 0.85 kW storage heater that runs for 7 hours you would use the equation as follows:

0.85 kW x 7 hours x 34p/kWh = 202.3p (rounded to £2.02)

Here are the estimated running costs of some the most popular sizes of storage heaters that go for a 7 hour period:

1.7 kW storage heater = £4.05

2.55kW storage heater = £6.07

3.40kW storage heater = £8.09

To learn more about the running costs of electric heaters, check out our guide!

Tips to reduce the electricity consumption of storage heaters

  1. Maintenance and upkeep 

These things can play a crucial role in ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your storage heater. By adhering to a regular maintenance routine, you can enhance its efficiency, prevent potential issues and extend its lifespan. 

  1. Optimal usage

You can reduce the amount of energy your storage heater uses by making sure that you choose a heater that is the right size for your home. Think of it like Goldilocks; you don’t want a heater that’s too small or too large, you want one that’s just right.

Next, adjust the output dial to match the room size, balancing comfort and energy consumption. Additionally, adjust the input setting in accordance with the season; higher during winter and lower during summer. 

  1. Alternative heating solutions

A gas central heating system is a great option if you have access to natural gas. You can also consider a heat pump, electric radiator, or infrared electric heater.

Secondly, you could improve your home's insulation. The better your home is insulated, the less energy is required to heat it. Reducing draughts and increasing ventilation also helps.

If you’re concerned about storage heaters taking up space, then you might find our guide on portable electric heaters useful. 

Cost comparison: Storage heaters vs other heating systems

If you're exploring your options when it comes to alternative heating systems, there are several factors you'll need to consider:

  • The size of the space you want to heat
  • What electricity tariffs do your energy supplier offer
  • If you want to invest in more modern and efficient technology

Moreover, you'll also need to compare the purchase and installation costs, operating costs, safety, appearance, and running costs.

For example, a gas central heating system is among the most popular in the UK. Storage heating, however, has the advantage of low installation and maintenance costs comparatively. But electric systems can become expensive to operate for large heating needs.

While night storage heaters use off-peak hours, they still have the disadvantage of potentially wasting energy. Charging the heater the night before may not always provide sufficient heat when needed, as we can't predict changes in ambient temperature. This means increased use of peak-time electricity.


Are electric storage heaters expensive to run?

Storage heating can be expensive as electricity tends to cost more than gas. To make electric heating cost-effective, you'll need to choose a tariff that charges less for electricity during off-peak times, such as Economy 7.

The most efficient storage heaters are usually from top-rated brands. Although they may be more expensive to install, they will cost less to run and save money.

How much do storage heaters cost?

The cost of storage heaters can vary significantly depending on the type, brand, and size you opt for. Basic models can be purchased for as little as £150, whereas more modern, high-heat retention storage heaters can cost around £700.

Is a storage heater right for me?

There are many reasons why you may want to keep your energy usage under control. Electric storage heaters can be a cost-effective solution to alternative heating systems, but it is important to note that you'll only reap the benefits when you utilise your heater efficiently.

If you're on a mains gas supply, a storage heater may not be the best choice, given that electricity is more expensive than gas. But if you're not, storage heating could be the perfect option for you.

By using off-peak electricity and setting the appropriate input and output levels, you can make the most of your storage heater and enjoy a warm and comfortable home.

At PlumbNation, we stock a vast range of energy efficient storage heaters that build up reserves of thermal energy throuhgout the day - keeping you warmer at night. Shop the range, or get in touch with a member of the team for any queries you may have about storage heaters.