What Are Electric Storage Heaters

Find out all you need to know about storage heaters, including how much they cost and how much you could save on your energy bills.

If you’re on a time-of-use tariff, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, and you use electricity to heat your home, a storage heater could help you take advantage of lower off-peak electricity rates. Here, we’ll help you decide whether a storage heater is right for you, which type to go for and how much you can expect to pay for a good model.

What are storage heaters?

Storage heaters are electric heaters that store thermal energy by heating up internal ceramic bricks during the night and then release heat from them to keep your home warm during the day.  Storage heaters are primarily designed for customers who are on a time-of-use electricity tariff, such as Economy 7 and pay a cheaper rate for their energy overnight (usually 12pm-7am). Using a storage heater allows customers on these tariffs to use cheaper off-peak electricity to heat their home during the day.  As electricity is more expensive than gas, storage heaters are only really cost-effective if you don’t have mains gas.

How much do storage heaters cost?

Storage heaters vary drastically in price, depending on which type you go for and which brand you choose. Cheaper, more basic models can be bought for as little as £150, but most cost £200 upwards. More expensive storage heaters tend to be more efficient, and therefore will cost less to run. 

Types of Storage Heater

There used to be five main types of storage heater, and they varied by the level of control, energy efficiency and price. However, from 1 January 2018, all newly manufactured storage heaters must have certain features so that they comply with Lot20, part of the European Ecodesign Directive. This essentially means that all storage heaters you can buy essentially work in the same way. All new electric storage heaters must meet a minimum energy efficiency rating of 38% for a heat output above 250W. To meet this, manufacturers are adding the following to their heaters: Digital programmers Open window sensors Electronic room temperature controls Wi-fi controls Generally speaking, the more you spend on a storage heater, the more features your model will have. Major brands include Creda, Dimplex, Elnur, Heatstore, Stiebel Eltron and Vent Axia. Most modern models have built-in thermostats and many also have ‘fan-assist’ to help spread the heat around the space. Also look out for high-heat retention casing and ‘intelligent charge’. Dimplex’s Quantum storage heater range claims to be the ‘most advanced, economical off-peak’ heater. You can programme it with daily and weekly schedules (or choose from its three preset profiles) using its LCD screen, which is colour-coded for clarity. You can set the room temperature, while its iQ controller monitors the room and learns your habits so it can adapt to your movements. It also has a fan, a thermostat so you can set room temperature, a child-lock and boost function if you need heat straightaway. It costs around £800. The following types of storage heater are unlikely to be on sale, but you may have them in your home already.

Manual Storage Heaters

The cheapest and most basic. They store energy at night and release heat automatically during the day. They continue running unless you switch them off.

Automatic Combination

These combine a storage heater and a traditional electric convection heater. You can switch on the convection heater anytime to give an instant boost of warmth. They need a power supply and were usually installed in large rooms where a storage heater alone wasn’t sufficient.