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Alternatives to Storage Heaters

Nick Geary
By: Nick Geary
Updated: 19th September 2023

A storage heater allows homeowners to make the most of lower night time electricity rates but they don't always offer the greatest control in terms of when they release the stored heat.

Once they're full of heat, storage heaters begin releasing it out into the space, whether you want to heat up the room at that time or not. For this reason, they're not always the best choice and it's well worth considering possible alternatives to storage heaters.

How do storage heaters work?

Storage heaters are made up of ceramic bricks that store thermal energy during the night when cheaper electricity tariffs are available (Economy 7 and Economy 10). This energy is then gradually released into the room as heat the following day.

While modern storage heaters offer increased levels of control they're not always the most effective, efficient or practical heating systems.

Why replace a storage heater?

  • While storage heaters allow homeowners to take advantage of cheaper electricity tariffs much of the stored heat isn't released efficiently. This leads to higher usage of electricity meaning expensive bills and a bigger carbon footprint.
  • As it is cheaper to heat the storage heaters overnight, by the time the next evening comes around (when you're likely to want the heating the most) there's a high chance that the heat will have already been released leaving you feeling cold and uncomfortable.
  • In some cases any excess heat will need to be released into the room whether you want it or not which can lead to uncomfortably high temperatures.

Due to these potential downsides of storage heaters, it might be worthwhile considering an alternative.

What are the alternatives to storage heaters?

Infrared heating panels

Heating systems typically heat up the space in a room but infrared heating panels work a little differently instead heating up people and objects directly. This form of heating reduces waste as the whole room won't be heated up - you will feel warm while in a cold room.

Infrared is the same type of heat emitted out by the sun, just without the harmful UV light. Using it to heat homes is a relatively recent development and is building momentum thanks to the benefits it offers:

  • Silent in operation as there are no moving parts
  • Can reach desired temperature within 30 seconds
  • Minimal air circulation helps to prevent dust circulation, damp and mould

You can read more about infrared heating in our guide: Infrared Heating Panels: Pros, Cons & Costs.

High efficiency electric radiators

Electric radiators often resemble conventional radiators that are heated up by a boiler. While they look similar, electric radiators simply connect to the main electricity supply to generate heat. Electric radiators are available in a range of outputs which reflects how much heat it's able to generate.

Electric combi boiler

An electric combi boiler can produce hot water on demand for both a wet central heating system (requiring the installation of radiators and pipework) and domestic use, i.e., supplying taps. An electric combi boiler is one compact unit which is mounted on the wall making it a great choice for small properties.

Heat pump

For properties with outside space, a heat pump could be a great alternative to storage heaters, but there is a lot to consider. A heat pump is a renewable, or low-carbon, heating system that heats your home and domestic hot water by extracting this natural heat from the air or from beneath the ground around your home. Both types of heat pump will work even in the coldest UK winters, but they become less efficient at low temperatures.

Air source heat pumps

To generate heat from the air, the air source heat pump, which is installed outside, includes a fan which rotates to bring the air inside. Following this, the air passes over a refrigerant fluid which is contained within an exchanger coil, the fluid then boilers and evaporates, turning into vapour. FInally, this vapour is compressed at a high temperature to produce heat for central heating and domestic hot water.

Ground source heat pumps

When the sun beams down upon the earth, some of this heat is absorbed by the ground. Ground source heat pump system pushes a mixture of antifreeze and water around loops of pipe (a ground loop) which are buried (either horizontally or vertically) in your garden where they can extract the sun's heat from the ground. A heat exchanger then warms the heat to an even higher temperature and passes it to a cylinder in your home to provide hot water for central heating and domestic use.

To install a heat pump you will need plenty of outside space, a hot water cylinder, and either large radiators or underfloor heating.

How much do storage heater alternatives cost?

Installation costs

Depending on the alternative heating system that appeals to you, the installation costs can vary greatly as they will be influenced by the size of your home, the manufacturer, and the installer's labour costs. You may also be charged for the removal of the old storage heaters and installation of any new pipework. Here are the average costs of installation for storage heater alternatives.

Alternative to Storage Heaters Potential Cost
Electric radiator £120 – £415+
Air source heat pump £4,000-£12,000
Ground source heat pump £9,000-£19,000
Infrared heating panel £100 – £500+

Running costs

As all of these heating systems run on electricity, which can be expensive at approximately 14p per kWh, it's important to not only consider the initial costs but the running costs too. We can work out how much an electric alternative heating system is likely to cost by multiplying the kilowatt hour (kWh) of the heater by the cost of electricity. Heat pumps use electricity to run, but it is worth noting that they generate 3-4 times as much usable energy than they use making them highly efficient options.

To reduce the running costs of an electric heating system, you should consider installing solar PV panels on your roof. Solar PV panels use natural energy from the sun to generate free and clean electricity for your home leading to significant savings on electricity bills. Visit Solar Guide for free solar panel quotes.

Get quotes to replace storage heaters

There's no doubt that storage heaters have become dated technology. While they allow you to take advantage of the Economy 7 and Economy 10 nighttime tariffs, the way they release the heat isn't the most efficient or effective. You could be left feeling cold in the evening when you need the heat most.

If you are interested in installing either an electric combi boiler or a heat pump, we can help you. The best way to find out how to get your storage heaters replaced with an alternative heating system is to get the advice of a fully-qualified engineer.

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Click here to get free quotes for an electric boiler

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Nick Geary

About the author

Nick Geary

Nick has a wide range of experience writing about conventional and renewable heating solutions, and is always increasing his knowledge by researching any new heating technologies on the horizon.

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