Electric Storage Heaters Guide

Electric storage heaters store heat at off-peak times and release it gradually throughout the day. They are an efficient, zero-emissions alternative to central heating.

What are electric storage heaters and how do they work? 

Also known as night storage heaters, electric storage heaters warm up your house whilst making the most of off-peak electricity prices. They store thermal energy by heating up internal ceramic or clay bricks at night when electricity tends to be off-peak and cheaper. This heat is then released during the day to keep your house warm.

They spread heat around the room by pulling in cooler air, warming up the air through the heater, then releasing it evenly into the room. 

Are storage heaters expensive to run?

Storage heaters are energy efficient as all the electricity they use is converted into heat.

However, electricity tends to cost more than gas, meaning that electric heating can be expensive. Choosing a tariff that charges you less for electricity at off-peak times will be more cost effective. 

What is an off-peak electricity tariff, such as Economy 7? 

‘Economy 7’ tariffs are where energy suppliers provide cheaper electricity at off-peak times – during the 7 hours of the night when energy is typically lower in demand. Some off-peak tariffs provide cheaper electricity over 10 hours of the night when demand isn’t as high – these tariffs are called Economy 10.

Economy 7 is a ‘time of use’ tariff and requires an Economy 7 meter that can track when you’ve used energy.

British Gas Economy 7 tariffs

If you have electric storage heaters, it’s a good idea to be on an Economy 7 tariff as they provide cheaper, off-peak electricity  that can be stored and used when you need it.

How do I set my storage heater controls? 

Storage heaters have an on/off switch on the wall that looks a bit like a light switch. This should be left on during cold periods of the year. Older models tend to have controls, whereas newer models are automatic. 

Modern storage heaters

  • Newer models of storage heaters are automatic. Once you’ve set your desired room temperature via a thermostat, the heater will control the input and output automatically
  • Because of new rules set in 2018, modern designs have casings to hold extra heat or fans to distribute the heat around the room. They are more eco-friendly and energy efficient
  • Some, more sophisticated, heaters have intelligent charging to store the right amount of heat. They may connect to your WiFi network so you can control them from your home. Some can even respond to changes in the room’s temperature and adjust the heating automatically

Older storage heaters

  • Most older storage heaters have two controls. You can usually find these on the top right of the heater. These are sometimes under a flap
  • Input – controls the amount of heating stored overnight The ‘input’ button controls how much heat you store overnight. You should adjust the input control according to the weather outside. In Spring, Summer, and Autumn, adjust the input control based on how warm it is outside. If it is very warm and you don’t need any heating, turn off the switch at the wall. In Winter, we recommend setting the input to max, especially in your main living space
  • Output – controls how fast the heating is let out The ‘output’ button controls how much of the stored heat is released. If you turn it up, you will let more heat out and the room will get warmer. Make sure to keep the output at minimum when you’re out of the house or overnight. Bring it up again in the daytime and when you’re at home

Tips for using storage heaters 

If you’re a first-time storage heater user, here’s some handy tips to help you get to grips with your heating system:

  • If you have small children or pets, it’s a good idea to fit a guard for your storage heaters as they can get very hot
  • Make sure there are no curtains near your storage heaters
  • Never cover the surface of your storage heaters or obstruct the air grills

Looking for more information about our Economy 7 tariffs?

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Are storage heaters right for my home?

Typically storage heaters are recommended for customers who don’t have a mains gas supply in their home. However, some people still look to storage heaters to replace their central heating.

Here are a few benefits of having electric storage heaters:

  • Storage heaters make the most of off-peak electricity prices, if you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff
  • They’re easy to install, compared to other wall heaters and central heating systems
  • They don’t require regular maintenance or servicing and often serve a long service life
  • It may be impractical to install traditional central heating system, so storage heaters are a great alternative
  • Electricity is more environmentally friendly than gas, especially if your tariff is renewable or low carbon

We can install your electric storage heaters

Storage heaters can be simpler and cheaper to install than gas central heating because there’s no need for a gas boiler, pipework or flue. 

If you think electric storage heaters are right for you, book a free quote with one of our expert advisors today.

How do I get my storage heaters repaired?

Electric storage heaters have no valves, burners or pumps, so are less likely to break down. However, if you think your storage heater isn’t working properly, try these things:

  • Check there are no windows open - the storage heater may switch off if someone has opened a window in the room
  • Make sure the controls are set correctly
  • Take a look at the instruction manual as this will contain troubleshooting advice

If all your storage heaters aren’t working, it’s likely there is a problem with the central heating unit. Check for a tripped circuit breaker first.

If you still need help with your storage heaters, we can repair, service and cover the cost of any future repairs for you.

Get a repair, service and ongoing cover

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