We are getting more and more customers calling us wondering whether to replace storage heaters with 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.
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.
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.
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….)
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:
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.
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.
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!