Every day we speak to customers who want to replace outdated storage heaters, but are not sure where to begin. Electric radiators can provide an economical and eye-catching alternative, but just how easy is it to make the transition? We’ve set out to answer all your questions in this definitive guide: including everything from disconnecting your heaters to disposing of the bricks, from changing your meter to hanging your new wall mounted radiators.
Removing your storage heaters
The bad news first: removing storage heaters is not a DIY job, so this is the part of the process that will cost you the most money. However, once the decks are cleared, installing electric radiators is a quick and easy process that your electrician can do as part of the overall project.
Hiring an electrician to remove your storage heaters
If you’re new to storage heaters – if, for instance, you’re renovating a newly acquired property that uses storage heaters – you may be disappointed to discover that removing storage heaters is not just a matter of disconnecting the heaters from the wall. That’s because storage heaters always come hardwired directly into the wall, so it’s never a simple matter of just whipping out the plug! Storage heaters are hardwired because they need special wiring in order to work with a two-tariff meter.
Your storage heaters will be connected to the mains via two electric circuits: one which carries off-peak electricity, and another that carries on-peak electricity. This allows your electricity meter to record how much electricity you have used at different times of the day, which, in turn, allows your energy supplier to calculate how much energy to charge at the lower rate, and how much at the higher. When you have your storage heaters removed, your electrician will need to:
• Remove or rewire off-peak circuits
• Convert storage heater sockets to ordinary sockets
• Earth and install circuit breakers where necessary
• Test, certificate and write report
For one storage heater, this should take 1-2 hours. For an entire houseful of heaters, you can expect the process to take 1-2 days. Depending on a number of factors – including where you live, the state of your existing wiring and the level of certification required – you can expect it to cost you anywhere between £500 and £1000 to have an entire houseful of storage heaters removed.
When looking for an electrician to do the job, you should consider the size of the task: it may work out cheaper to pay a lump sum for the job if you have just a few storage heaters to remove, but it’s likely to be more economical to choose an electrician who charges by the hour if you have an entire houseful of heaters to shift. Remember, if you want to save money, it’s in your interest to help your electrician work as efficiently as possible: make sure all rooms are tidy and your heaters are easily accessible before your electrician arrives.
How to dispose of storage heaters
Some electricians will include the disposal of your storage heaters within their fee, and some may offer to organise disposal as an optional extra. However, if you feel able, disposing of your storage heaters yourself can be an easy way to save money.
The first thing anyone will tell you about moving storage heaters is that they are very heavy. Storage heaters are essentially metal boxes full of bricks, so can weigh anything from 40kg to 400kg. However, this is not such an issue when you are removing storage heaters because they can be easily dismantled. As soon as the storage heaters are fully disconnected from the mains, you can use a screwdriver to open up the metal casing and take out the heating bricks one by one. It goes without saying that you should not attempt this if the storage heaters have been used for heating within the last week – the bricks are designed to retain heat and will not be safe to remove until they are cold.
Once you are in a position to move your storage heaters, you have three main options for disposal:
If you are only removing one or two storage heaters, you might consider taking the bricks and casing to the local tip. Some council tips may charge you a nominal amount to use the tip. This method is not recommended if you are disposing of multiple heaters because of the cumulative costs in petrol and the potential damage to your car posed by the heavy bricks.
If you are refitting an entire house, you may find it useful to hire a skip. Skips are available in a range of sizes to suit your needs, and allow you to quickly and easily dispose of a large amount of waste, with no risk of damaging your vehicle.
Another useful option, particularly if you live in a rural area, is to advertise the bricks to local farmers or builders who can put them to use as hardcore for farm tracks or pit-filling. You could go old-school and stick a sign up outside your house, or make use of community recycling sites such as Freecycle. This won’t cost you a penny, and is typically quick and easy to organise.
Asbestos in storage heaters
If your storage heaters were installed before 1974, there is a possibility that they may contain asbestos insulation. The Asbestos Information Centre have published a list of historical storage heater models which are known to contain asbestos. We recommend checking your storage heaters against this list before hiring an electrician. If there is any chance at all that your storage heaters contain asbestos, you should consult an expert before removing: asbestos fibres have been linked to respiratory illnesses, lung damage and cancer.
Coming off Economy 7
Before installing and using electric radiators, you will need to switch from your Economy 7 tariff to a standard electricity tariff. This is essential: electric radiators, unlike storage heaters, use electricity as-and-when they produce heat. If you remain on Economy 7, you will be charged the inflated daytime electricity rate whenever you use your radiators – a sure-fire way to rack up a hefty electricity bill. Switching to a standard electricity tariff will allow you to make the most of energy efficient and controllable electric heating, and you’ll also be able to use any other electrical appliances you use during the day more cheaply.
To change your energy tariff you will need to phone your supplier and have a new electricity meter fitted. Most suppliers will do this for free. However, don’t be afraid to shop around – in the UK there is a wide range of tariffs on offer from a whole host of energy suppliers, so it’s always worth comparing the market to find the tariff that works best for you.
Installing a radiator
Now your bulky storage heaters are a distant memory, you can finally get to work on fitting your home with a fleet of stylish electric radiators. And the good news? It's a quick and easy job for your electrician, so in many instances, you can get your whole home refitted in a day. It is possible to install some of our electric radiators DIY, though bear in mind that these are high wattage appliances, and if too many are plugged in at once, it could overload the ring main of your property. For a whole home refit, your new electric radiators will need to be hardwired to the mains via a fused spur rather than having them plugged in at the wall. If you're not sure whether your home's electrics will be able to handle multiple plug in heating solutions, be sure to discuss it with your electrician, who will be able to make recommendations.
If you do want to fit one or two radiators DIY, all you have to do is follow these six easy steps, or watch our DIY installation video:
1. Use the included template to mark on the wall where the brackets will go
2. Drill four holes as directed by the template
3. Screw the mounting brackets to the wall
4. Hang the radiator on the brackets
5. Fix the radiator in place with safety screws
6. Plug into a normal electric socket
Sound good? Then why not say goodbye to those storage heaters once and for all. Our friendly sales team are always on hand to help you make the best choice for your home, offering informed and practical advice to guide you through our range of wall radiators, electric panel heaters and towel rails. Give us a call today on 0330 300 4444, and look forward to a winter of comfortable, controllable, affordable heating.