“How can I cut my heating bills without becoming cold?”

How Infrared Heaters compare against other heater types

How to apply the carbon reduction hierarchy to reducing your heating costs

“How can I cut my heating bills without becoming cold?”

You don’t have to go cold to reduce your heating bills. All of the following measures can be adopted in whole or in part, depending on your budget and your house.  We find the Carbon Reduction Energy Hierarchy diagram (see above image) useful to show what steps can be taken in what order to cut heating bills in a home.

Whilst all of these steps imply expense, the prize, over a period of years is attractive. With more than 50% of household energy use in the UK coming from heating, the savings from a lot of these steps below are permanent and annual and make a compelling investment case.

Reduce the need for energy in the first place

Actions taken at this level – to reduce your energy requirements in the first place – have the biggest impact on your heating expenditure and should therefore be considered first. Any of the following will fall into this category:

Improve your insulation.

Money spent on improving your home insulation will reduce your heating bills. If you have to prioritise, then the key items to improve are the insulation levels in your ceiling, on any outside walls and your glazing (windows and doors). Everything else can follow. Just consider: a building insulated to the old pre 1985 standards could imply up to 2 pence per m2 per hour to heat electrically. A building insulated to modern passive house standards would require only up to 0.5p per m2 per hour to heat electrically. Imagine saving 1.5p for every metre of floorspace every hour over a winter period.

Improved insulation can also significantly reduce the cost of your next heating system. Modern heat pumps for example undeniably run at low cost relative to other types of heater. But why spend on the very high purchase and installation costs for a system that will run very little? Charlie Luxton, TV architect and designer made exactly this distinction when putting Infrared heaters into his own low energy renovation project in Cornwall. With the high levels of insulation and other sources of heat (like stoves, PCs etc) he did not need to go to an expense he would never recoup by buying a heat pump: instead he used Infrared panels just to top-up the heat he required to keep the cottage comfortable.

Estimate your energy requirements more accurately.

Energy-saving heaters of all types challenge us to make more accurate heating requirement assessments. The old rules of thumb much in use in the industry really fail to take into account the characteristics of the building, levels of glazing, the size and type of different rooms etc. The new generation of heat loss calculations as put forward by Herschel Infrared for example – really point the way forward for estimating heating requirements from new generation heaters. Even EDF told us that historical over-estimation in the UK heating industry has required the equivalent of at least one power station just to cover the excess.

Use modern smart controls (you now have to)

On 1st January 2018, the European Union required all heater manufacturers (of whatever sort) to comply with new eco-design regulation to reduce energy consumption at the consumer-side (i.e. the heaters) without reducing comfort.  Each type of heater had its own targets to achieve by adopting these controls, but for fixed electric heaters, the target was set at 8% and had to be achieved by a combination of:

  • Thermostatic control allowing setting of a number of periods during the day to match heating to occupancy;
  • The ability to set a different schedule (if required) each day over 7 days;
  • The ability to detect if energy was draining out of a room (e.g. if a window had been opened) and shut the heating off until the issue had been corrected;

All heaters manufactured since January 2018 have to state what control solution will achieve this for their heaters (if the controls are not built in). But the prize is an 8% efficiency. It is worth noting as yet energy assessment regulations which were last updated in 2012 have not yet recognised this improvement and we await SAP2018 to see if this has been changed.

Use the energy you do use, more efficiently

This set of activities concerns the choice of your heating system itself and the nature of the materials you are trying to heat.

The key to maximising the use of the energy you do consume is in storage of that heat in the fabric of the building. You don’t want to store heat in the bricks of a storage heater and then let that out into the building. This is the wrong way ’round.  The building should become a storage heater in its own right.  This way it keeps radiating background warmth even when the heating turns off.  This is what is called the “thermal mass” model of heating. Treating the building a bit like a battery, you need to put energy in to prime it, but once primed, you need very little energy to keep the temperature topped-up.

Only radiant heating (infrared) is really capable of priming thermal mass because only radiant heat has sufficient “transmissiveness” to drive energy into the fabric of the building. Heaters that warm the air fail significantly to warm the materials in the building (the thermal mass). But because our sense of comfort in enclosed spaces like houses and offices is based on the average of the air temperature and radiant temperature and not just one or the other, we have to compensate for the lack of radiance from central heating systems, by boosting up the air temperature to compensate.  This is why it is common to have stuffy air temperatures with central heating to overcome the cold materials around you: but as soon as you turn the heating off, you feel basically cold again – because you are still losing your body heat to the colder materials and walls of the building which haven’t warmed up. This is also the classic condition creating damp and condensation in a building (warm air over cold surfaces).

Radiant heating reverses this condition by heating the materials and walls of a building which then continue to radiate back even after the heating has turned off. Air temperature also warms up too, (all objects convect as well as radiate), so you end up with this correct “average” that our bodies naturally seek. And it is an energy-saving model, because the thermostat can just allow the heaters to “tick over” and not have “big on” and “big off” cycles so typical of convection-based heating that are so wasteful of energy.

Supply energy from renewable sources

Non PV properties can only use oil, gas or electric grid energy for heating. With PV on your roof, you can offset a large proportion of your heating costs with free energy.

“We have a smart meter and it’s satisfying on a sunny winter day to feel the heating panels working with little or no cost registered on the smart meter. We’re really happy with the PV + IR heating combo”

A typical domestic solar installation in the UK generates from 2.8 to 4.4 kWh and while the typical heater installation capacity for a 3 bedroom house insulated to 1996-2002 standards is typically from 6-10kWh, the actual average operating capacity will be somewhere below this (not all heaters on at the same time and not all rooms set to the same temperature).  A modern Passive House will require even less heating than this.

So, whilst total heating consumption will likely exceed PV generation, the beauty of Infrared is that you can prioritise some or all of your heaters to make use of this free energy. Spring and Autumn days where the sun is shining and the heat demand is low, it is genuinely possible for this heating to be free. As construction standards and building regulations improve, overall heat load requirements (first topic above) can only come down.

As a side note, Solar PV and Infrared make use of similar skills and trades, which is not true for other low energy heat solutions such as heat pumps, so installation efficiencies and overall costs can be kept lower.

“We experienced a range of challenges during the project, but Infrared + Solar was the simplest system to integrate with the programme.”

 

 

Herschel Select XL White

Looking for an Eco heating system? Try Infrared!

Looking for an Eco heating system?

If you have moved in to a new home, or simply want to replace an old heating system with a new eco heating system then look no further than the infrared heaters we have here at Infrared4homes – the home of infrared heating!

So why are infrared heaters considered an eco-heating system – well the reason is to do with how they heat! Infrared heaters produce infrared (just like the name suggests!), this is different to the more conventional convection heating most people have in their homes.

Why is infrared an Eco heating system?

Infrared is more efficient that convection heating because the heat is targeted – basically when you switch one of our Infrared eco heaters on, the heater warms up and once it gets to temperature (normally within 5 or so minutes) it starts emitting the infrared, which travels from the heater until it heats a solid object. The solid object, which could be furniture, a person or the wall will then absorb the infrared and this will cause the object to warm up.

Compare this with convection heating, like a radiator for example. The radiator gets warm and heats any air in direct contact with it – this hot air spreads around the warm via convection currents – so the hot air rises because it is less dense while the cold air falls since it is more dense. The reason a person feels warm in a room heated by convection heated is because they are in direct contact with warm air.

This is the basic of convection heating versus infrared (or radiant heating). Now the reason the infrared is more efficient and considered an Eco heating system is because you need less wattage to feel the same heat because you are heating surface area rather than volume. Also, couple this with the fact that infrared eco heating systems are less impacted by cold draughts – you have the most efficient electrical heating system!

Now it is worth mentioning electricity is considerably more expensive per unit than gas, so if you do have a gas central heating system then that will likely be cheaper to run in the long run. Electricity costs about 12.5p/kwh while gas is about 3p/kWh – so you are looking at about 3-4 times the price to run an electric heating system, but for many they have no choice but to heat by a form of electric heating (convection heaters, storage heaters or our infrared heaters) so when it comes to comparing electrical heating there really is only one winner – Infrared!

Infrared4homes – the home of Eco heating systems!

If you are looking for an Eco heating system in your home, then look no further than our fantastic range of infrared heaters – mirrors, patio heaters, you can even get your favourite picture printed one of our infrared panel heaters, all at unbelievable prices!

Should you replace your Storage heaters with infrared heaters?

We are getting more and more customers calling us wondering whether to make the switch from their old storage heaters over to infrared heating panels in their home.

Our answer is always YES – but read on to find out why….

Why make the switch away from Storage heaters over to infrared heaters?

Storage heaters take advantage of Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariffs – basically the homeowner has two rates for electricity, a cheaper rate and a more expensive rate. The cheap rate is used to charge the storage heaters and then this stored heat can be released during the day as and when it is required.

Normally the cheaper rate of electricity is offered during the evening hours. The number 7 in Economy 7 refers specifically to the number of hours the cheaper electricity is offered. For the remaining 17 hours of the day, the electricity is more expensive. Likewise, for Economy 10, you get 10 hours of ‘cheap’ electricity and 14 hours of more expensive electricity.

Typically though, the expensive rate is REALLY expensive – we just had a quick look at uSwitch, one of the Government approved switching companies, and EDF (one of the Big Six energy companies) offers a standard Economy 7 tariff where the expensive, day time electricity is 16.27 pence kWh (although the cheaper night time rate is 5.970p / kWH).

On a standard tariff where you just have one rate – most suppliers are offering electricity for just over 10p / kWh at the moment. The benefit of this is that it can be used whenever and you still just pay 10p / kWh.

The reason that Economy 7 exists is mainly a historical reason – historically we have had big old power stations that can’t be turned off at night (nuclear and coal power plants for example), so there is electricity being produced that no one wanted. Economy 7 was introduced to boost demand for this unwanted electricity – cheaper electricity = increased demand!

A huge number of people still use storage heaters to heat their homes and therefore have an Economy 7 meter, but there are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider switching.

1. You use more electricity during the day and pay more for it on Economy 7

Firstly, consider when an Economy 7 household typically uses electricity.

During the summer months, 90% + of electricity will be used during the day, as there is no heating. Evening during the winter months when heating is required, the split might only be 50% : 50% daytime to evening, because most people are asleep at night and therefore not using electricity to do their everyday activates, TV, lighting, cooking etc.

The key here is that actually the amount of electricity you use at night (cheap rate) compared the electricity used during the day (expensive rate) is very low. So you will be paying more on your electricity bill when on an Economy 7 tariff compared to a standard single rate tariff regardless that your storage heating is consuming the energy only overnight.

2. Storage heater consumption on cheap rate is not money-saving

If your room requires 1.5 kilowatt of heat during the day, the storage heater consumes 3.3kW of electricity during the night to deliver this. That is 20 pence of cheap rate electricity versus 15p on a standard daytime tariff delivered by a direct-response heater like an Infrared panel.

Additionally because storage heaters don’t retain their charge over the full course of the following day (even a brand new storage heater won’t retain 100% of its charge until the next evening and older storage heaters can discharge all their heat well before the next evening) you have to use a direct acting heater, like an Infrared panel to top up anyway.  Energy performance assessments made on houses where Storage is the primary heating mandate an additional 10-15% direct acting heating during the day. So you will be adding 10-15% of peak rate daytime consumption to your already expensive storage solution.

 

Making the switch from Storage heaters to Infrared Heaters

You may have noticed we are called infrared4homes – we can’t recommend this technology enough – and you will see why we are so excited about infrared as a new, highly efficient heating form.

So how do you go about making the switch.

  1. Switch to a single tariff electricity meter

The first thing is to get rid of your old Economy 7 or Economy 10 meter – you won’t be needing it anymore. Instead you need to get a new standard single rate meter installed – in order to do this, you need to speak to your existing energy provider and get them to come and change the meter.

They know they are on a good thing by having you on these Economy 7 / Economy 10 tariffs, so they will try hard to keep you on them – our advice is resist! Once they know you are definitely going to change to a single rate tariff, they will then try to offer you some ‘great deals’ on these tariffs – again resist, do not tie yourself into a 12-month contract with your existing supplier, because there will almost certainly be cheaper single tariff rates out there.

  1. Find a better single rate tariff

Remember the electricity you get out of your plugs is the same regardless of the company that supplies it – it is all 100% identical, regardless of who bills you.

So the aim is to find the supplier who offers the cheapest rate, that will allow you to benefit from cheaper electricity all day long, all year round. There are two ways to go about this – the first is use a Government approved comparison site like Uswitch, they do everything for you, getting in touch with your existing supplier and your new supplier to make the switch as smooth as possible.

>> Access USwitch by clicking here <<

The second way is to ring around the energy providers (if you want to save time, our advice is definitely to use a comparison site!) and work out which is cheapest. We would normally avoid the big six, not that we particularly dislike them, but more because they have enormous fixed overheads so their electricity tariffs always seem to be a bit higher than the average. Try giving a company like Ovo or First Utility a call – they are much smaller and tend to have better customer service.

So you now have your cheaper single rate tariff – time to go shopping (on infrared4homes ideally….)

  1. Buy your new infrared heaters

Choosing infrared heaters is pretty simple when you know how, but it is a relatively new technology so the best thing to do is give us a call and we can talk you through how to size the different infrared panels up, where to place them and the differences between all the different heaters we offer. Popular storage heater replacements are:

  • Select – White Framed Infrared Panel Heater

    FROM £189.00
  • Select XL – Glass Infrared Panel Heater

    FROM £369.00
  • Select XL – White Frameless Infrared Panel Heater

    FROM £279.00

If you want to size the panels yourself, read our sizing guide which you can access by clicking here. Alternatively contact us for help and we will happily give you an estimate.

If you want to know the best place to position the panels, read our positioning guide which you can access by clicking here

You may have a few further questions, click here for our FAQ which tries to answer commonly asked questions.

  1. Get a qualified installer to install them for you

This isn’t a must since all our panels are plug in and go, but for the best experience we always recommend getting the infrared heaters hard wired into your home with proper heating controls (i.e. thermostat / timer) and for this you need a qualified electrician. Once again, we have a list here at Infrared4homes, so call us and ask, but to be honest any qualified electricity should be able to do it, the heaters are very simple to install.

  1. Sit back, enjoy a nice warm home and lower bills

Step 5 is our favourite, sit down, pour yourself and drink and enjoy your new, stylish heating system!

If you do have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the comments below!

Herschel Select XL Infrared Panel review

This week’s blog is a review of Herschel’s Select XL infrared heater. This is a relatively new product in the line up, launched late last year, so we asked (bribing with M&S vouchers!) one of our recent customers to give us her thoughts:

I was asked by Infrared4Homes to provide a review of the Select XL panels that I bought for my home. To set the scene a little, we moved into a modern property just outside Guildford at the beginning of the year. It has 3 bedrooms on the top floor and a kitchen and living room downstairs. The house sits at the end of a terrace, but one of the first things we did when we moved in was to install cavity wall insulation which made the house a lot warmer.

The house was built in the early 90s and had storage heaters instead of a central heating system. I don’t have a problem with electric heating at all as my first flat had the same set up! The issue with the storage heaters was more that they are big bulky units and 2 of them in the bedrooms were broken. Not ideal when it is cold outside.

Electric heating  – endless choices!

We did quite a lot of research via the internet, and looked at all sorts of options including the Fisher storage heaters, the new Dimplex Quantum Storage heaters and the Riointe Kyros heating system as well as infrared. We even ended up getting a quote from British Gas for a new central heating system, but it was extremely expensive!

Infrared turned out to be the best fit for a couple of reasons. Firstly it was the best value (along with the Kyros heaters) because an average size heater is about £300. The storage heaters started at about £700 so were more than twice the price.

The second reason was the fact the infrared heaters were very low profile, so were pretty non-obtrusive in our home.

Choosing the right infrared heaters!

I know there are loads of infrared heaters now available, so our next task was finding one that would suit our needs. We came across infrared4homes while looking on the internet so we thought we would give them a call for a bit of help. I know we have been given some vouchers to write this, but I can honestly say they were incredibly helpful, explaining all the different types of electric heating available.

One of the major things when moving from storage heaters to another form of electric heating was to change the electric meter in our home. We were told to give E.On (our energy provider) a ring and get our meter switched from Economy 7 to a standard meter.

In terms of infrared, we were informed we had a huge amount of choice, but the Herschel infrared heaters are pretty much brand leaders now here in the UK. Infrared4homes also don’t deal with infrared heating panels with a guarantee of fewer than 5 years, which certainly put my mind at rest.

Select XL infrared heaters – the perfect balance of budget and style!

I’m really pleased with the panels. Select XL are just right, as we wanted to balance budget with style. These were still affordable, but we wanted to avoid the cheapest Select panels, as we didn’t want the frame. They start working really quickly and you can feel the heat almost straight away, unlike with radiators, because you’re not waiting to heat all the air in the room. When I turn them off I can still feel the heat for quite a while afterwards.

We got the Select XL panels the very next day after placing our order. On the advice from Infrared4Homes, we got a local electrician to install them for us and it took him just under a day to install all 6 panels! The bit we did decide to spend a bit more on was the ability to be able to control the heating from our phones (this was a request from my husband!). This involved installing the heaters with smart thermostats in each of the rooms and a central unit linked to our smart phones. It means we can control each room individually and turn the heating on, off, up or down with just a couple of taps.

The panels really do work great and they are very discreet on the wall, so I really would recommend infrared heating to anyone!

Can infrared heating panels heat a whole house?

Infrared picture panel heating a house
Infrared panels can heat a whole house. They don’t have to be just to top-up inadequate central heating or for extensions. In fact, most of our customers who purchase infrared heaters use them to replace the system currently installed – be it storage heaters or wet/dry central heating. They are particularly useful for homes that are “off gas” (i.e. not on gas mains). The low wattage requirements of infrared compared with convection heaters makes it an attractive energy-saving heating solution.

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