It’s the age-old question surrounding electric radiators: “how much do they cost to run?” Though we’d love to offer exact figures, we’d need to be clairvoyants in order to do so. It’s a tricky question, as its answer varies so much from household to household. It’s impossible for us to offer a set figure, as there’s a lot of external variables to consider. The lack of concrete answers can be discouraging, but this is simply because any cost analysis needs to be tailored toward your own usage habits. Making your own basic running cost estimate couldn’t be simpler, but there are some things to be aware of before you start.
Why is it hard to calculate the running cost for electric radiators?
It’s easy to lump electric radiators together with any other electrical appliance, but heating requires a slightly different mindset. While an electric radiator and a television both use electricity, they use energy in fundamentally different ways. The television, for instance, will be using electricity continuously whilst in use and only stop using energy once switched off.
This isn’t the case for electric radiators – they instead use internal thermostats to switch off and on depending on the ideal temperature set for the room, and will only use energy when it needs to top up heat levels. So, while a 450W plasma TV and a 450W electric radiator might sound like they’ll use the same amount of energy over the course of a few hours, it’s highly likely that the radiator will only be using energy periodically during this timeframe.
What else can affect the running costs of electric radiators?
Pinning down an exact figure for electric radiator running costs is also difficult due to the fact they’re required to heat such a broad spectrum of house types and room spaces.
Every space in the home is different, with its own set of requirements and variables that can affect how efficient your heating system will be. Below are some of the larger factors which can impact the running costs of your electric radiators.
Home and Room Insulation
If you live in an older property, chances are it will cost more to run your heating compared to a new build of a similar size. Newer properties are designed to be much more air-tight, and have higher levels of insulation due to current building regulations which aim to make homes more energy efficient. This stricter standard of insulation means that electric radiators cost less to run in newer properties due to reduced levels of heat loss.
No two homes are exactly alike and the same can be said of each individual room that comprises a property. Not only do you have to contend with the area of the room when taking into account potential running costs, you also have to factor in ceiling height. Rooms with high ceilings or open plan areas will always take more energy to keep warm due to how radiators heat the space around them.
Larger spaces will take much longer to warm up, too, and will need a higher wattage radiator to ensure the space is comfortably heated. Larger spaces may benefit from a ceramic electric radiator. Packed with ceramic stone, these heaters are designed to lock in heat all the way to their core, retaining it long after the unit has been switched off. As heat is gradually released, it disperses slowly to surrounding areas, keeping them comfortable despite the radiator no longer drawing power from the wall.
Individual comfort levels can make a substantial difference when it comes to the running cost of any heating system. If you prefer a cool 16 °C, your heating bill will likely be much lower than that of a household that operates at a balmy 23 °C. Radiators set to a lower heat level will get to temperature quicker and will draw energy much less often.
That being said, it’s important not to sacrifice your comfort levels just to save a bit of money. How often you use your heating throughout the course of the day will also vary due to different work patterns, lifestyle habits and, of course, changes in the weather.
Property location and exposure levels
We like to think of our home as an impenetrable castle guarding us from the elements, but how exposed your property is can have an impact on how hard your electric radiators have to work. For example, a terraced house attached to other properties on both sides can always benefit from the residual heat of the homes surrounding it. A fully detached house, however, will be exposed on all sides and have more exterior walls to contend with, making it more difficult to keep warm.
So, how do you calculate the running cost of an electric radiator?
You can estimate potential running costs for an electric radiator with a simple calculation, although it’s important to note that this is just a base approximation which doesn’t take into account all of the above variables. The basic formula is as follows:
(Radiator output (kW) x hours in use) x pence per kW hour = daily cost of radiator (p)
For example, if your room requires a 900W electric radiator and will be used for 5 hours a day, you would multiply 0.9kW by 5 to give you 4.5 kW/h. If your electrical tariff was priced at 14p per kilowatt hour, you would multiply 4.5 by 14, giving you a total cost of 63p per day.
The biggest variable in this equation is ‘hours in use’ because it’s subject to your own lifestyle habits, as well as the quality of your home’s insulation. Poorer insulation equates to more time in use, so to combat this, it’s always worth exploring ways you can improve your home’s thermal retention.
How can electric radiators help reduce running costs?
Choosing an electric radiator with certain energy-saving features will give you a better handle on your running costs through their greater levels of control.
Any electric heater with 24/7 programming is one worth considering, as this feature lets you micromanage your heating to suit your individual needs perfectly. If you have a specific everyday routine, 24/7 programming guarantees that you only ever use the energy you need, as your radiators will only ever turn on when necessary. This prevents wasted energy without ever having to sacrifice on comfort.
An electric radiator with WiFi control allows you to manage your heating from any location when connected to the internet, all through the familiarity of your smartphone. If your routine changes on a whim, you can quickly and easily make adjustments to your heaters’ programme via an app – much simpler than through a clunky button-press thermostat. The Ecostrad iQ Ceramic is controllable through the Ecosystem app - an intuitive and user-friendly interface that can manage your heating right down to the minute, if required. It also supplies access to a wide range of energy-saving functions that can help with those heating bills.
Keep running costs in check with electric radiators
With running costs, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer… although we’d love to give one! The truth is, there are various aspects at play, from insulation, to individual preference, to how much your electricity tariff charges per kW - and these are things we can’t account for. One way to make sure your electric radiators are running as cost-efficiently as possible is through choosing one loaded with energy-saving features, especially 24/7 programming and WiFi control. If you need any help choosing the perfect product, you can read more about our most efficient electric radiators here.