What are the running costs of electric heaters?

There is widespread debate about the running costs of various types of radiators, especially the costs and efficiency of running electric central heating systems, radiators, and heaters. Throughout this blog, we will break down everything to do with the running costs of electric radiators to help you decide whether this central heating system is the most suitable and energy-efficient for your home.

Are electric heaters expensive to run?

Electric heaters are generally considered to be more expensive to run than gas as the average price of electricity per hour is usually higher than gas. Off-peak electricity tariffs can also bring the costs up depending on your electricity provider. However, there are a variety of factors that can affect your electricity usage for your heating.

Why is it hard to calculate running costs for electric radiators?

Electric heaters work in a different way to other electricals. A TV will use the same amount of electricity per hour throughout its use, only stopping using electricity when switched off. On the other hand, an electric radiator will change its usage depending on the room temperature, using internal thermostats to switch off and on depending on the ideal temperature set for the room. This means the electric heater will only use energy when it needs to top up heat levels in the room. Other external factors can affect the costs of electric radiators and heaters, which we will go into further detail below.

How do you calculate the running costs of an electric radiator?

You can gain an estimate of the electric radiator running costs using this formula; however, please remember this is an approximation that does not take into consideration all external factors that can affect the cost:

(Radiator output (kW) x hours of usage) x pence per kW hour = daily radiator running cost(p) x number of days in use

1. Convert watts into kW

Begin by converting the wattage of the electric radiator to kilowatts by dividing the wattage by 1000; for example, 1800 watts is 1800/1000 = 1.8kW.

2. Multiply by hours in use

Next, you will need to multiply the kW figure by how many hours you roughly estimate the heater to use and run for each day. This may be different depending on the season but just take your best estimate. So if a 1.8kW radiator is in use for 3 hours a day, we'd get 5.4kWh (kilowatt-hours).

3. Multiply by pence per kWh

Depending on which energy tariff you are on, this number will vary depending on your providers prices. According to UK Power, the average price per kWh is 14.37p. For information specific to your provider, check your energy bill for the tariff they use. By multiplying the expected kWh figure with your suppliers pence per kWh, you will find out how much it will cost to run your appliance.

4. Multiply by the number of days

Once you have done the above steps, you will get the estimated running cost per day for your electric radiator. You can then multiply this figure by seven to give you an estimated cost for one week, 30 for an average month, or by 365 for a yearly total. Repeat this process for all-electric radiators and heaters in your home.

What else can affect the running costs of electric radiators?

You need to consider other factors when calculating the cost of electric radiators, including room size, the insulation in the room, and your house's location. We've provided you with an overview of how each of these factors will affect the running costs of your electric radiators below.

Freestanding Electric Fire In Lifestyle Setting

1. Room Size

If you have very high ceilings or open-plan rooms, your electric radiators will require more energy to stay warm due to the way heat is conducted throughout the room. Heat rises and travels to the room's peak before making its way down to the centre of the room, the central place where the heat is needed. This means it takes longer for the whole room to heat up.

2. Room Insulation

If you don't have the proper insulation in your home, your heating will be less energy efficient and, in turn, cost you much more money. Newer properties are better insulated than older ones, meaning running an electric radiator in a modern property will be cheaper to run as the heat won't escape as easily.

3. House Location

Possibly a factor you may not have thought about, your house's location could also affect the cost to run your electric heater. If your home is in areas exposed to the elements and extreme weather conditions such as well above sea level or north-facing, this could significantly affect cost.

The type of house can be a factor too; terraced houses benefit from passing heat between houses, whereas detached houses are open from all angles, making it harder to keep warm.

Read our other guides at Plumbnation and discover more about electric vs gas heating and decide which is better for your home.