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The answer varies from household to household, of course, and depends on numerous other factors, so it’s impossible to set a standard figure that applies to all homes in the UK. It’s possible to make estimates based on your usage habits, but you need to be aware of some important details.
It’s common to lump electric heaters with other electrical appliances in your home, but there are various factors at play. All electrical equipment use energy in different ways. The television, for example, uses energy continuously when it’s switched on and stops using electricity once it’s switched off. The case is not similar to electric heaters – they use internal thermostats that switch on and off at intervals to maintain the set temperature of the room.
So, a 450W electric heater and a 450W plasma TV will not use the same energy when they’re both turned on for a specific duration.
Electric radiators are designed to heat different types of houses and room spaces, which is why it’s impossible to pin down exact costs. Every space in your house is different, with a set of variables and requirements that affect heating efficiency.
If you have an electric radiator with a 2kW (2000 Watt) electric rating, and it was a particularly cold day, we would assume the radiator would be on 100% of an hour. This means that you would be charged up to 2kW per hour for powering this radiator.
2kW/h x your unit rate = maximum cost of electricity used in 1 hour
Although this may seem significantly higher than a gas alternative, bear in mind that gas costs are increasing as supplies decrease and piped central heating systems with boilers have much higher installation and maintenance costs.
Whatever the costs may be, the aim should always be to minimise the amount of time the radiator is on for by considering some of the other factors below.
It’s possible to estimate the cost of running your electric radiator using a simple calculation method. Bear in mind that this formula does not take into consideration all possible variables, so it’s just a base approximation.
(Radiator output (kW) x hours in use) x pence per kW hour = daily cost of radiator (p)
For example, if you use an electric radiator with an output of 900W for 10 hours every day, multiply 0.9kW by 10 to get a cost of 9kW/h. If the tariff is charged at 14p per kW/h, you then multiply 9 by 14 to get a daily running cost of 126p. However, this formula does not take into account the fact that the electric heater has a thermostat that switches on and off depending on the outside temperature.
On a final note, when making estimates of your daily heating costs, consider your lifestyle habits as well as the quality of insulation in your home. The estimates provide a better way to predict your running costs so that you can make a more informed home purchase and interior design decision.