Understanding the cost of using a radiator vs electric heater is important if you want to stay warm but keep costs down.
We all want ways to reduce our energy bills with costs soaring despite the energy price guarantee. The typical household energy bill – based on normal use is expected to be around £2,500 a year, up from £1,200 last winter.
If you pay by direct debit, each unit of energy you use both day and night will cost you on average:
- 10.3p per kWh for gas
- 34p/kWh per for electricity
The costs are different if you pay your bills quarterly, with prepayment meters or if you have an economy 7 meter. Some providers will even pay you to use less energy during peak times.
In our ongoing effort to save money – we compare radiators and electric heaters to see which is the cheapest heating method.
Cooler vs electric heater
The cost of using radiators to heat your home
Setting your central heating to come on at regular intervals so that your house is really warm when you get up in the morning or come home is a luxury – compared to having to crawl out of a warm bed to turn on an electric heater or come home to a cold house.
If you have radiators in every room – you don’t have to worry about some rooms being left cold – as all rooms in your house should be evenly heated.
If you are not using your spare bedroom or any other room – you can easily turn off radiators in rooms you are not using and close the door with smart heating controls and timers on thermostats.
And by heating only the rooms you need in the house can saving you around £115 a year.
When it comes to the cost factor Dr. Steve Buckley, Director of Data Science at Loop (opens in new tab) said: “while gas central heating is less efficient in absolute terms, gas is significantly cheaper than electricity”.
Three out of four homes use central heating for winter heating according to Statista (opens in new tab) – but it’s not cheap if you want a quick fix.
Energy expert Rosie Macdonald from Energy Helpline (opens in new tab) says that turning on the central heating for an hour could cost you just over £3 based on an average 35kW domestic boiler.
This would usually be for a family home; but depending on the size of your home – you could have a much smaller boiler – say 12kW or 24kW.
As a rough guide – based on the unit price of energy for dual fuel customers – a kWh of gas costs 10.3p – meaning a smaller 12k boiler could cost £1.20 to run for an hour or £2.50 if you has a size of 24kW.
This means that if you want a little extra heat in the lounge while you watch TV or work in the office upstairs – turning on the heat for an extra hour is an expensive way to keep warm.
The temperature is also the key to saving money. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that UK households should have a winter room temperature of around 18°C
But Martin Lewis ran a Twitter poll recently and the majority voted that they have their heating at a temperature higher than 18 degrees.
Today’s Twitter Poll: What temperature is your main central heating thermostat set to (in Celsius)? Ps this isn’t about if it’s on, it’s about the temperature setting for when it’s on.November 10, 2022
So consider lowering the temperature of the thermostat by 1 degree every two weeks to save on your energy bill.
The cost of using an electric heater to heat your home
When it comes to the cost factor – electric heaters – like this £30 little square heater from Dunelm (opens in new tab) costs around 51p per hour to drive.
It’s a 1500-watt electric heater – which may not be the most powerful heater on the planet but can put out a decent amount of heat when you need a quick boost in a room.
The more power, the more expensive it is to drive like this 2500 watt electric heater (opens in new tab) costs £59 to buy and 85p to run per hour.
The big plus is, of course, that it can be much cheaper than turning on the heat.
You can of course buy larger electric heaters which are usually all portable enough to carry around the house – which can be handy if you just need a quick heat spread if you’re the only one in the house working from home.
The heat from your radiators doesn’t disappear immediately when the heat is turned off, but when you unplug your electric heater, the heat dissipates quickly.
Another downside is that it can be more difficult to pre-set electric heaters to switch on at fixed times of the day – unless you buy a timer switch which you can pick up for around £5 in most hardware stores (opens in new tab).
But if you get to the point where you plug in electric heaters in every room, the cost can outweigh the cost of central heating.
“Heating individual rooms with portable electric heaters may seem convenient, but the cost of running electric heating is significantly higher than the cost of the gas equivalent.
“As a rough comparison – if you use an electric heater in four rooms in the house, it can be more expensive than using central heating – especially if you have a smaller home and a 12kW boiler.”
The verdict – which is cheapest?
It all depends on whether you are heating a single room or an entire house. Using a single electric heater for an hour a day will cost you £3.57 a week compared to around £21 if you switch on your central heating.
If you only use one room – for example working from home – and need a quick spread of heat, using an electric heater can be a saving compared to turning on the central heating system.
And electric heaters come out on top for ease of use, low maintenance and easy installation (all you have to do is plug it in).
But if you try to heat your whole home with electric heaters in every room instead of radiators – it will cost a lot more and not provide the same level of warmth.
If you heat the whole house or several rooms and are better off using central heating, you can still reduce costs when installing central heating by doing small things:
And if you don’t own an electric heater and don’t want to invest in one right now, there are other things you can do to heat only the rooms you want in your home with central heatingwhich can save you up to £115.
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