What is the Most Efficient Form of Electric Heating?

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The most efficient and cost-effective heating system is always going to be the one that offers some degree of radiant heat. Compared to convection, radiant heat lasts longer and isn’t affected by air movement, and yet does a similarly stellar job at keeping us cosy. But how does it actually work, and what makes it so efficient?


List of Contents

What is ‘radiant heat’?

Why is it so energy-efficient?

Is radiation more efficient than convection?

Which electric heating systems are the most efficient?

Does heating control have an impact on efficiency?

What is ‘radiant heat’?

We have to go back to school a little for this one. Radiant heat is just another way to refer to infrared radiation, which is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Though it’s a form of radiation, it’s not anything to be afraid of – all solid objects in the world, and that includes us, absorb and emit infrared constantly. It’s one of the main ways we regulate our body temperature, so in fact, we’d struggle without it! A lot of heating systems use radiation, like radiators and infrared panels, so you’re probably much more familiar with this type of heat than you might expect.

Why is it so energy-efficient?

Radiant heat is absorbed easily by solid objects. This includes human beings, pets, furniture, walls, and ceilings. This type of warmth sinks deep below surfaces, locking into the very fabric of your home, creating comfort that lasts all day. Here’s some more reasons it excels on the efficiency front:

  • Radiant heat travels directly to objects, without needing the air to transfer warmth. It isn’t affected by draughts, which effortlessly keeps a lid on heat loss.
  • With a radiant heating system, you can turn down the thermostat and still feel comfortable from the residual heat.
  • When the surfaces of your property warm up, they then re-radiate heat back out to other areas of the room, creating a bubble of long-lasting comfort.

Is radiation more efficient than convection?

Some products, like panel heaters and storage heaters, use convection to supply warmth. This means instead of heating you directly, they had the surrounding air. When compared to radiant warmth, convection is less efficient, but let’s take a closer look at their differences.

Radiation vs. Convection


  • Travels in an even wave to people and objects, warming them directly – no middleman involved!
  • Sinks below surfaces for comfortable, long-lasting warmth
  • Remains stable in objects despite the ambient room temperature – it is unaffected by air movement (even those draughts from open doors!)
  • It is healthy, safe, and works to prevent condensation and mould


  • Makes use of the air’s natural rise and fall to transfer heat, which is then transferred to surrounding people – it’s a two-step process
  • Quick and responsive, but once the unit turns off, the heat soon follows suit
  • Is very susceptible to heat loss. If there’s a cold spot in a room, the heat will naturally go to that area, bringing overall temperature down
  • Can aggravate dust and allergies due to air manipulation

Ecostrad Adesso white electric radiator on wall

Which electric heating systems are the most efficient?

Electric radiators and infrared panels are the most efficient form of electric heating, as both make use of radiant heat.

Electric radiators

Ecostrad Accent infrared panel on wallMost electric radiators will produce two-thirds of their warmth as convection, but also offer one-third as radiation. This provides a lasting background warmth, so even if you do keep moving from room to room, you won’t lose as much heat from air movement.

For maximum efficiency, look out for ceramic radiators which are able to produce much more radiant heat. As ceramic has excellent thermal properties, these radiators offer up to 50% of their warmth as infrared heat. If you need fast-acting warmth, its convection abilities are still there to deliver, but with a much slower cool down time to keep running costs low.

Infrared panels

These heaters provide all of their heat output through infrared warmth, making them super-efficient for homes and businesses. None of their heat is lost to air movement, allowing them to boast a very impressive 100% efficiency, as they convert every watt of energy taken from the wall into usable heat.

Slim and lightweight, infrared panels offer much freedom of placement in a room. They can be mounted on a wall or ceiling and some models can even be freestanding, so heat is directed towards specific areas.

Does heating control have an impact on efficiency?

It certainly does – the number of energy-saving measures an electric heating system has to offer definitely impacts how efficient they are to run.

Our energy-efficient electric radiators come with their control systems and digital thermostats built in. No other accessories are needed to set these products up, making them highly convenient if you need to get your heating system up and running quickly. Infrared panels, on the other hand, usually require you to purchase a separate external thermostat, which gives you the option of upgrading or changing your control system later down the line.

What control features offer the most efficiency?

Ecostrad iQ Ceramic electric radiator on wallTo keep running costs low, we recommend considering products with the following features:

  • Precision digital thermostats: A precision digital thermostat keeps running costs low by automatically adjusting your heating in line with your temperature settings. With some as accurate as ± 0.1◦C, it helps to prevent under or overheating, ultimately helping to increase efficiency.
  • 24/7 programming: 24/7 programming is essential for optimal efficiency, as it allows you to tailor your heaters to suit your needs without heating at unnecessary times and wasting energy.
  • WiFi distance control: An electric heater with WiFi control puts the inner workings of your unit right in the palm of your hand. Access a wealth of energy-saving functions and manage your heating from a compatible app on your smart device, from anywhere in the world.
  • Open window detection: This handy feature detects when there’s a notable change in a room’s temperature, like from a window being left open, and temporarily switches the unit off. This saves energy, as it prevents heat being generated when it’s likely to be lost to airflow.
  • Energy usage statistics: Get up-to-date records of how your energy is being used and when, so any necessary changes can be implemented quickly - optimising efficiency and keeping bills down.

Out of all the electric heating systems on our website, the Ecostrad iQ Ceramic comes closest to packing all of these features into one body, so if you are looking for extra-efficient heating, it’s certainly one of our strongest contenders.

To keep your rooms warm and your running costs low, we offer a vast collection of energy-efficient heaters to suit every space. This includes WiFi controlled electric radiators, oil-filled radiators with Bluetooth connectivity, as well as infrared panels that are smart speaker compatible. Browse today at Electric Radiators Direct and find everything you need for efficient heating right here.


Key Takeaways

  • When it comes to efficiency, radiant heat performs better than convection
  • An electric heater with a range of control features, like weekly programming, will provide optimal efficiency and help trim running costs
  • Both infrared panels and electric radiators use radiant heat, representing modern heating solutions that are perfect for any home


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