Electric Heating and Central Heating

An electrical supply goes to pretty much every home in the UK, so if you live in a home without a gas supply using electricity as a source of heating is an obvious choice. In fact there are about 3.3 millions homes in the UK unattached to the gas grid for one reason, or another. Your home may be one of them.

Although Chancery Contracts would normally advise on a case-by-case basis, there are a number of options available and some of these are outlined below.

Electrical Heaters and Radiators

There are a wide variety of electrical heaters, radiators and water heating units available that can be used any time of the day or night. While this approach will give maximum flexibility it does come at a cost with annual electricity fuel bills typically coming in at at least 50% higher than normal.

Really this option should not be considered unless the property is very well insulated. Fortunately, however, there are other approaches that will help to keep the bills down.

Night Storage Heaters

Night storage heaters are generally regarded as the most economical form of electrical central heating. These heaters operate on the principle that the heating is stored at a time of the day when the cost of the electricity is at its cheapest for use later. This often means changing the deal on which the electricity is supplied - see below.

The night storage heaters work by heating up special heat retaining bricks using the cheaper rate electricity overnight, then slowly releasing the heat during the day when the tariff is more expensive.

This same concept can also be applied to hot water with an immersion heater heating up a tank of hot water overnight for use the following day.

Low Cost, Overnight Electrical Supply

The low cost overnight rates from the electricity suppliers are generally 'Economy 7' and 'Economy 10' tariffs. The number in the name just indicates how many hours the lower cost electricity is available over a 24 hour period.

Economy 7 is a 100% overnight tariff and Economy 10 is a split tariff of seven hours overnight and three hours in the afternoon.

These Economy supplies require a special meter to be installed, but you can also tell from your electricity bill if the cheaper tariffs are available to you. If available, the bill will show clearly the electricity used on the different day and night time rates.

Advantages of Electric Central Heating

  • Unlike gas, a mains electricity supply is available to almost every dwelling in the UK. This make it an obvious choice if gas is either unavailable, or aquiring gas will require an expensive installation.
  • As electrical storage heaters work from the mains, there is no infrastructure to install as they do not require pipe-work, or a flue.
  • Electrical heaters have no moving parts and so require little, or no maintenance. An annual service is not required, although regular safety checking is legally required as it is with any electrical equipment.
  • You will not have to deal with floods, or damage from burst pipes.

Disadvantages of Electric Central Heating

  • Per unit of energy, electricity is usually conistently three to four times more expensive than gas. This price differential is fixed as most electricity in the UK comes from gas fired power stations.
  • Making a decision to use the cheaper Economy 7 and Economy 10 tariffs is not as straightforward as it seems. This is because having the cheaper rate available overnight, usually means a more expensive than normal rate during the day. So unless the daytime electrical use is very modest, this seemingly cheaper option could end up costing more than a normal electricity supply.
  • The 24 hour cycle associated with the night time storage is infexible and requires daily forward planning. If the heat cannot be stored overnight, then it will be cold the following day unless you pay the daytime premium rate.
  • The heat in storage heaters is not generated or stored according to the prevailing temperature as its with a gas central heating system - it is generated in advance. This means a daily best guesstemate on what the temperature will be the following day and therefore how much heat will be needed. This can often lead to either unnecessary levels of heat, or going cold.

A Question of Balance

Finding the right mix of storage heating, heating units and electricity tariffs can be utterly confusing. This is why Chancery Contracts offers an initial consultancy service to work out the best approach and the best unit/tariff mix.

More Information

Chancery Contracts works with both commercial and domestic clients on new builds, or on re-fits. If you would like to know more about our electrical heating advisory and installation services - please get in touch.