Heating your home effectively and cost -efficiently.
Efficiency is the first and foremost element that must be considered when thinking about a new heating appliance or whole house heating system. The two largest and most obvious benefits of ensuring that your heating system is as efficient as possible are the effects it will have on the environment and the impact it will make on your personal finances. These two elements work in tandem as the waste of fuel which contributes to the greenhouse effect is also expensive for the householder.
To consider the “green” case first, among the different methods and fuels available to heat the home the effects on the environment vary enormously. Fossil fuels, like wood and gas, have a more immediate impact on the so called “Greenhouse Effect”, and can contribute directly to air pollution in towns and cities. The source of the gas used is now becoming a controversial issue, with fracking an increasingly used- and hotly challenged- method of obtaining gas. Electricity is becoming a more environmentally friendly method and it is possible to choose from “Green” suppliers who can guarantee renewable energy is used. The most environmentally friendly choice is to ensure that the appliance used is as effective as it can possibly be. To create heat will inevitably take energy and if that heat is then wasted the fuel used in producing it is 100% waste. An efficient heater will mean less fuel is needed to keep your home warm, and the energy used is not frittered away.
Obviously we all want to be able to keep our homes comfortably heated and in order to do that we need to be able to afford the cost. A heating system that is inefficient will waste fuel which will still have to be paid for even if the heat produced is not used and an expensive to run system is a system which can’t be used as often as needed- leading to high bills, and low temperatures. Electrical heating does not waste fuel in the way that other fuels can: the way that electrical energy is converted to heat energy means that this is a straightforward conversion from 1 kilowatt of electrical energy to 1 kilowatt of heat energy.
This efficiency of exchange applies to all electrical heating devices, but its running costs can vary according to a wide range of other factors, taking into account such basic things as the temperature at which the device is set and the room it is in, and including other variables such as the baseline temperature, and the electricity tariff paid. Heating experts would agree that these external factors apply to any device, but the one element that can vary from one system to another is the basic effectiveness of the apparatus. An efficient machine distributes heat evenly in the areas where it is wanted and can be set to the required temperature according to need. It is also flexible enough to be used on different tariffs and at different times of the day or night.
The variety of heating devices which operate on electricity is quite broad, with widely differing apparatuses available, from whole house to small space heaters, and the efficiency naturally varies equally widely from one device to another. It is useful to take a look at what is available before making a final decision on the right personal choice.
Night storage heaters have been quite popular with some people because they may perceive them to be cost-effective, but they are actually the least efficient method of electrical heating. They work slightly differently to the more standard radiator and this can lead to a lot of wasted heat, and heat that has been paid for on the expensive- and perhaps misnamed- Economy 7 tariff. They tie you in to that tariff as well which means that it is impossible to take advantage of some of the cheaper deal around. The environmental costs of storage heaters are quite worrying as the entire principle relies on creating and storing heat to be released later- when it is quite possible that it will not be needed and so go entirely to waste. It is also a difficulty that the storage heater will have least stored and available heat left by the time it is most needed- in the evening. Frequently this leads to the necessity of a supplementary heating source such as a fan heater which further adds to both the financial and the environmental costs.
Fan heaters are frequently suggested for smaller rooms and other spaces but they can be enormously expensive for the amount of heat which they can produce. The very smallest and least warm options can be relatively inexpensive at around £3 a week for a running time of 6 hours a day, but they would not be capable of providing warmth in anything but the very tiniest of areas. The most powerful options can cost around £20 a week for the same 6 hour daily running time. Some people additionally find the noise, and often the smell of burning dust, a real irritant.
Infrared panels are another source of heat that are more useful for very small areas. The method of heat transfer involved, that of radiant heat, means that the area heated only extends for a few feet in front of the heater itself making it necessary for a reasonable size room to have a number of panels, adding to both original outlay and running costs. The very short warranty period of a year or two means that repair, or more realistically replacement, costs must be factored in to the overall expense. These are reasons which contribute to infra=red panels not being considered to be a primary heating source.In addition they have no thermostat or ability to vary the level of heat which makes them inflexible and inefficient,
Underfloor heating has become increasingly popular, but it is very much in the nature of a sledgehammer used to crack a nut. The method of operation of underfloor heating is that a large space is heated and the heat then rises to warm the rest of the room. It is an incredibly inflexible system and it takes time for the ambient room temperature to respond to the heating going on or being switched back off. For many people this leads to their experience being that a room with underfloor heating is either too hot or too cold. This is inevitably inefficient and can lead to the ludicrous situation of an electric fan being necessary while the room is cooling back down, which adds even further to both cost and environmental impact. Additionally the costs of installing underfloor heating, and of having work done on it should repairs ever be necessary, are very high and a great deal of disruption is involved with the floor having to be entirely taken up for installation and again for any required repairs.
Electric radiators are a flexible choice which can be used in either single rooms rs as a whole house system. With a controllable thermostat the temperature in each area can be effectively controlled and because the radiators are swiftly responsive the right amount of heat for any given space can be quickly provided and then adjusted to perfectly suit the need. This means that the heat produced is necessary heat so that the energy used to create it is not wasted, and that no other supplementary method of heating is necessary. The simplicity of the apparatus means that electric radiators can be guaranteed to function for considerable lengths of time as there are no moving parts to wear out-a warranty of over 20 years should be possible to find. Unlike underfloor heating the installation can be as simple as plugging them in, or in the case of some particular wirelessly programmed models, a 20 minute installation visit.
Whatever the particular method or model chosen, it is well worthwhile to ensure that you have suitably effective and cost-efficient heating. A common mistake is to underestimate or skimp on heating, assuming that it is more economical to try and make one appliance heat an area which is too big for it to comfortably keep warm. Rather than a gentle and widespread background warmth this an lead to a situation where the appliance is constantly operated at it’s highest possible temperature in an attempt to ensure that the whole room is equally heated. This only leads to an overheated area nearest to the implement and a cool room further away, and is an extremely inefficient and expensive way to be uncomfortable. It is far more sensible to be guided by expert advice and ensure that you have provided enough appropriate heat sources for the space so that they can be run at a lower- and more cost effective- temperature and provide a more consistent and even distribution of heat.