Energy efficient heating with an electric storage heater

Storage heating works by storing up heat and then releasing it gradually throughout the day. We have a range of tariffs that work well with storage heaters. Find out more below about the best way to use storage heaters.

Diagram of a typical storage heater: a vertical flat rectangular box with vents and two control knobs on top

What are electric storage heaters and how do they work?

Electric storage heaters store up electricity during the cheapest electric tariff period and then gradually release heat throughout the day. Depending on your tariff, they may store up heat overnight (eg our Economy 7 tariff – known as Domestic Economy in Scotland) or during off-peak periods in the day (eg our Superdeal tariff in England or Total Heating with Total Control (THTC) tariff in Scotland). If you’re not sure which tariff you’re on, give us a call.

Each storage heater works individually, so you can choose how you want to heat each room separately. Storage heaters are fixed to the wall, and their weight is taken by the floor. Each heater has a separate on and off switch on the wall which should be left on when using the heater.

To check the exact timings of your cheaper electricity rates, get in touch with us. You can also read about our different meter types.

Types of storage heaters

There are four main types of storage heaters:

  • Basic storage heaters have two main controls, an input (controls how much heat the heater stores) and an output (controls how quickly the heat escapes).
  • Automatic storage heaters have an inbuilt sensor to monitor air temperature. The heater should automatically adjust its charge to match your chosen settings. Some heaters don’t have any settings so you don’t need to adjust them.
  • Fan-assisted storage heaters blow warm air into the room from the bottom of the heater. Some models have a two-speed fan to control the output of the heat.
  • Combination storage heaters have a built-in convector heater. You can use this to top up the heat, for example in cold weather. Depending on your tariff, this boost may use energy at peak or off-peak time prices – contact us if you’re not sure.

Cost of buying and installing storage heaters

The initial cost depends on which storage heater you buy. If your room is large, the storage heater needs to be bigger (and more expensive) to heat it fully. It’s important to buy the correct sized heater so you don’t waste any energy. Cheap storage heaters aren’t normally as energy efficient; you may find that they waste energy or your rooms become too warm. The best storage heaters cost more initially, but save money over time because they are more energy efficient.

Installation costs vary depending on your area and electrician. The cost of running storage heaters depends on a variety of things including: how much insulation you have; how big your windows are and how they are made; the size of your room and the desired temperature. Keep your doors closed and don’t let draughts in to retain the heat and save money. Give us a call to find out the best electricity tariff for your storage heaters.

Safety tips when using storage heaters

  • Never cover the air vents of your storage heaters.
  • Make sure there is a gap of at least 15cm between the bottom of your curtains and the top of your heater.
  • Installing a storage heater guard can protect children or elderly people from heaters. Some covers can still get warm, so we recommend that children are always supervised when around the heaters.
  • Don't leave anything flammable close to the heater.
  • Make sure your heaters are installed by a qualified electrician.
Close-up of typical radial control knobs on the top-left corner of a storage heater – output on the left, input on the right

How to use your storage heater

The storage heater controls are normally found on the top of the heater, sometimes under a flap. Once you have found the right settings to keep you comfortably warm, you shouldn’t need to change the controls unless the weather changes. You can find more information on how to work your storage heater in the user manual.

  • Input – this controls the amount of heat stored during off peak hours. This has the biggest influence on the running costs. In mild weather, the input should be set to low. In cold weather, set the input to a higher setting to store more heat.
  • Output – make sure the output switch is turned down/off during the night or when you aren't at home, to avoid wasting heat.

All-electric heating help

Get support and advice about all-electric heating. We've got information about how storage heaters work, tariff timings, and how to use an electric wet radiator system plus much more.

Do you have an online account? Register for one now and you'll be able to give us your meter readings, view your bills, and make payments.

If you can't find the information you need online, you can contact us and we'll do our best to help.