Is it cheaper to use a radiator or electric heater? (2023)

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As energy bills soar ahead of the winter, millions of households will be looking for the cheapest way to heat their homes. Even with the Government's energyprice cap guarantee, billpayers in the UK will see the cost of electricity per unit increase by 20 percent, and gas by a staggering 40 percent. Using centrally-heated radiators to keep rooms warm is perhaps the most common heating method, but how do electric heaters compare? Here's how much it will cost to use electricity to keep your house warm this winter.

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How much does it cost to use an electric heater?

Electric heaters work the same as plumbed central heating radiators, except they don’t rely on a boiler and a network of pipes to deliver the heat.

While this is beneficial in terms of allowing greater control over the temperature and position in your home, they're not cheap to run.

In fact, even under the current energy price cap, a 2kW electric fan heater costs 56p per hour to use on full power.

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Is it cheaper to use a radiator or electric heater? (4)

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Under the new October unit rate, duel-fuel direct debit customers can expect to pay 12p more per hour to use the same electric appliance.

This means that from October, a 2kW heater will cost 68p per hour to run.

For a more powerful 3kW appliance, the cost will rise from 84p per hour under the current price cap, to £1.02.

Though this may not seem a lot, the costs can quickly pile up even after just a few hours.

For example, from October, a 2kW fan heater would cost £2.72 to use for four hours and a staggering £19.04 per week.

A 3kW equivalent would cost £4.08 for four hours and £28.56 to use for four hours everyday for one week.

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    Is it cheaper to use radiators?

    According to John Lawless, a heating expert at BestHeating, using a radiator is more cost-effective than smaller, portable electric heaters.

    He said: "Remember that central heating is a lot cheaper to run than an electric heater. For every unit of heat put out by an electric heater, it will cost around three times as much as a unit of heat from one of your radiators."

    Even under the new energy price cap charge of 34p per kWh for electricity, the cost of running a 500W (0.5kW) radiator is much cheaper than an electric heater - at just 17p per hour.

    An 800W equivalent (0.8kW) costs just over 27p per hour and a 1000W (1kW) just 34p.

    Is it cheaper to use a radiator or electric heater? (6)

    Heating small areas can be done more cost-effectively by turning different radiators on or off (Image: GETTY)

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    Which type of electric heater is cheapest?

    While the average running cost of an electric heater is more than using a radiator, it can vary depending on the type you choose.

    Fan heaters

    These are the most common type of heater, known for being light and portable.

    Warm air is blown out of the fan and circulated around the room to increase the temperature.

    There are many different power levels for fan heaters, ranging from 0.5kW (500W) to 3kW. Of course, the more Watts, the greater the running cost.

    Convector heaters

    These work similarly to fan models by heating up the air using an element, but are usually larger and can look more like radiators.

    In some cases, they may also use a fan feature to speed up heat distribution, but this is not standard.

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    One benefit is that convector heaters are much quieter, though they are often slower.

    Convector styles cost more to run on average because the average heat output is much larger than fan styles. In most cases you will only find 2kW, 2.5kW or 3kW models.


    Is radiator heat cheaper than electric? ›

    The verdict. It all comes down to whether you're heating a single room or an entire house. If you're just using one room – for example working from home – and need a quick burst of heat, using an electric heater can be a money saver compared with firing up the central radiator heating system.

    Are radiators more efficient than electric heaters? ›

    Electric Radiators are much more efficient than electric heaters, as they provide a uniform heat and are less noisy. They are also better for large rooms, as they provide a more even temperature.

    Which type of heater is cheapest to run? ›

    So, after looking at the different types of electric heaters available, due to its lower power-output, halogen heaters are the cheapest electric heaters to run.

    What is the cheapest way to heat a room? ›

    The cheapest way to heat your home is by using an efficient gas central heating system, thermostatic radiator valves, a room thermostat and a timer.

    Do electric heaters cost more than radiators? ›

    Overall, for heating the same space, an electric heater costs more than twice as much as using central heating. However, electric radiators can be more cost effective if you're just heating a small room.

    Why are radiators no longer used? ›

    Radiators are inefficient

    It takes a lot of energy to heat water. The time to heat up the water, and cool down when you no longer need the heating, make radiators less efficient compared with surface heating.

    What is the most efficient heater type for heating your home? ›

    There is only one way to get more heat using electricity than using electric resistance heat and that is a heat pump. A heat pump is about one-third the cost of running one of these electric heaters. They operate on a similar principle as an air conditioner or refrigerator.

    What is the most efficient heater to run? ›

    Infrared panels

    These heaters provide all of their heat output through infrared warmth, making them super-efficient for homes and businesses. None of their heat is lost to air movement, allowing them to boast a very impressive 100% efficiency, as they convert every watt of energy taken from the wall into usable heat.

    Is a radiator better than a space heater? ›

    Electric radiators are more efficient than electric panel heaters because 1/3 of their warmth is produced through radiation which bypasses the air to warm people, objects and surfaces directly.

    What is the cheapest most efficient heat? ›

    Although prices have risen, natural gas is the least costly form of space heating. This is followed by electricity, propane, and heating oil, from the next cheapest to the most expensive. It also pays to consider eco-friendly home improvements that make home eco-heating more efficient, too.

    How much does it cost to run a 1500 watt heater for 8 hours? ›

    For example, running a 1,500-watt heater for 8 hours a day can cost an average of $1.92 each day. That means it will cost many users just under $60 to operate the space heater for 8 hours every day for an entire month.

    What is the cheapest way to heat your house this winter? ›

    Switching off the radiators in empty spaces is definitely the cheapest way to heat your home this winter. And you might even find that an oil-filled electric radiator is cheaper to run than your boiler.

    How can I heat my house for free? ›

    10 step guide to keep your house warm without heating
    1. Rejig your furniture. ...
    2. Use a terracotta heater. ...
    3. Invest in insulation. ...
    4. Think about your habits. ...
    5. Put a shelf above a radiator. ...
    6. Bleed your radiators. ...
    7. Analyse any draughts. ...
    8. Block your chimney up.
    Jan 9, 2023

    What is the cheapest and most efficient way to heat a home? ›

    Heat pumps
    • Most energy-efficient way to heat a home using electricity.
    • Heat pumps can reduce your heating costs by up to 50%
    • Effective for both heating and cooling your home.
    Sep 12, 2022

    Do electric heaters make your electric bill high? ›

    If you use a space heater in your home, please be aware that using a space heater can cause a significant increase in your monthly bill. A 1,000-watt space heater operating 12 hours a day will add about $40 to your monthly bill.

    How much does it cost to run an electric heater for 1 hour? ›

    We've used this figure in the calculations below to illustrate the highest amount it could cost to run an electric heater from October 2022. Electric heaters show how much energy they use as their heat output. For example, a 2kW fan heater would cost 68p an hour to run on full power (34p x 2kW).

    Do oil filled radiators use a lot of electricity? ›

    Energy Saving

    All the electricity used by an oil filled radiator is used to generate heat; namely by warming the oil inside. There is no electricity wasted. This makes the oil filled radiator one of the most energy efficient ways of heating any room. It is also surprisingly cheap to run!

    What is the disadvantage of radiator? ›

    The following disadvantages of Radiator are: Heat loss takes place if not used and maintained properly. Noisy operation. It needs an adequate amount of airflow in the room in order for a radiator to properly work.

    What are the cons of radiator heat? ›

    They can be noisy, they always clutter up the room, they often cause draughts, and many are expensive to run. There is a portable heater that doesn't suffer any of these drawbacks.

    Are electric radiators the future? ›

    However, modern electric radiators are now efficient enough to be a completely cost-effective alternative to other central heating sources, including oil and gas. And, when combined with solar and wind power, electric heating can absolutely be considered the energy of the future.

    What is the cheapest way to heat a house without electricity? ›

    Gas boiler

    It's not as cost-effective without solar panels, but a gas boiler is still the cheapest way to heat your home – though that's set to change soon, with the cost of gas rising more than twice as quickly as electricity.

    What temperature should I set my thermostat in the winter? ›

    The ideal thermostat temperature in the winter is 68 degrees Fahrenheit when you're at home. suggests that 68 degrees is a good room temperature while you're awake at home but recommends lowering it while you're asleep or away.

    What is the most efficient heating system for an old house? ›

    Heat pumps are some of the most efficient units for heating an old home for their energy-saving properties. Heat pumps transfer existing heat instead of creating it. While they are a costly investment upfront, you'll save money that more than makes up for the installation costs.

    What is the best heater to save money? ›

    If you're looking for a heater that won't use much power and helps cut costs on energy bills, your best bet is a halogen heater, a convection heater or an oil-filled radiator, particularly if they have effective thermostat controls.

    Which room heater is best for winter? ›

    The Best Halogen Heaters That Give A Comfortable Atmosphere
    • The Best Halogen Heaters That Give A Comfortable Atmosphere. Dec 29, 2022. ...
    • Easy Mobility. Bajaj Deluxe 2000 Watts Halogen Room Heater (Steel, ISI Approved), Multicolor. ...
    • Value for Money. Bajaj RHX-2 800-Watt Room Heater (White) ...
    • Noiseless Operation. ...
    • Best Efficiency.

    Do radiator heaters save money? ›

    What are the pros of electric radiators? Electric radiators are 100% efficient at point of use. This means that every Joule of energy you pay for is converted to heat which helps to save energy and reduce running costs.

    Are oil filled radiators cheaper to run than electric heaters? ›

    Yeah, Oil Filled Radiators are cheaper to run. Usually, Oil Filled Radiators are energy efficient and the biggest advantage of an oil-filled panel heater is their portability, it heats those parts or areas of your house, where another conventional heater can't heat.

    What is the difference between an electric heater and a radiator? ›

    The difference between electric radiators and electric panel heaters is this: Electric Radiators store heat and are ideal for prolonged everyday use. Electric Panel Heaters don't store heat and are ideal for occasional use.

    What is the cheapest way to heat your home in 2022? ›

    “Although gas is less expensive to use daily, installation, maintenance, and operating costs frequently make electricity the more affordable alternative for effectively heating your home.

    Is it cheaper to turn up the thermostat or use a space heater? ›

    "Buying a space heater for every room would increase the electricity bill more than if you had just bumped up the thermostat," Mikelann Scerbo, research manager for the Alliance to Save Energy, told Save on Energy.

    How big of a room will 1500 watts heat? ›

    As a rule of thumb, you will need 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of floor area in a room. This means that a 1,500-watt heater can be the primary heat source for an area measuring up to 150 square feet.

    Is it cheaper to run a space heater or central heat? ›

    Using a space heater to target rooms you're using instead of heating the entire house is a surefire way to trim money off of your monthly energy spend. Space heaters cost about 20 cents per hour to operate, give or take, which is a whole lot cheaper than central heat for a home of almost any size.

    How can I stay warm when I can't afford heat? ›

    13 Tips for Staying Warm Without Turning Up the Heat
    1. Dress in Layers. ...
    2. Wear Thick Socks or Slippers. ...
    3. Use the Oven and Stove for Cooking. ...
    4. Leave the Oven Open After Baking. ...
    5. Enjoy a Cup of Soup. ...
    6. Drink Warm Beverages. ...
    7. Use a Humidifier. ...
    8. Reverse the Ceiling Fan.
    Dec 19, 2022

    How can I insulate my house cheaply? ›

    Cheap ways to keep your house warm
    1. Draught-proof your home. ...
    2. Insulate your pipework. ...
    3. Invest in a smart thermostat. ...
    4. Change your curtains or blinds. ...
    5. Fit carpets with underlay. ...
    6. Move your furniture around. ...
    7. Increase your roof and loft insulation. ...
    8. Install better floor insulation.

    How can I keep my winter warm without heating? ›

    How to keep warm: 10 ideas to help you stay warm this winter (without having the heating on)
    1. Electric blankets. Stay warm at the touch of a button with electric blankets. ...
    2. Throws. ...
    3. Weighted blankets. ...
    4. Knitted socks. ...
    5. Layer up with quilts. ...
    6. Hot water bottles. ...
    7. Cosy dressing gowns. ...
    8. Blankets with sleeves.
    Dec 16, 2022

    How can I cut my heating bill in half? ›

    How to save energy
    1. Turn off standby appliances.
    2. Install a smart thermostat.
    3. Turn down your thermostat.
    4. Buy efficient appliances.
    5. Install a new boiler.
    6. Wash clothes at a lower temperature.
    7. Be smarter about water.
    8. Invest in double glazing.
    Aug 12, 2022

    Do radiator style heaters use less electricity? ›

    Electric radiators are ultra-efficient because they convert 100% of the energy they use into heat. Their efficiency is also largely due to the amount of radiant heat they produce, as well as their in-built energy-saving features.

    Do radiators use less electricity? ›

    Comparing the Energy Savings

    Radiators and other space heaters approach 100 percent efficiency in their use of electricity, but you can achieve greater functional efficiency based on your heating needs.

    Is radiator heat cost effective? ›

    Radiators can be an efficient, cost-saving way of heating your house. Their delivery pipes are a heat source, spreading the warmth out over a long, narrow area. The benefit of any radiator, whether it uses hot water or steam, is its efficiency.

    Does a radiator heater use a lot of electricity? ›

    It depends largely on the type of house, size of room and quality of insulation. However the maximum the heater will cost will per 1unit of electricity per hour, per kilowatt of heat. For example, if you have a1500 W heater the maximum it will use is 1.5 energy units per hour.

    How much does it cost to run a 1500 watt heater for 30 days? ›

    Per Hour And Per 24 Hours Cost Of Running A 500W – 5,000W Electric Heater (Table)
    Electric Heater Wattage:Running Cost (Per Hour)Running Cost (For 24 Hours)
    1250 Watts$0.17$4.08
    1500 Watts$0.20$4.80
    2000 Watts$0.26$6.24
    3000 Watts$0.40$9.60
    5 more rows

    Is it cheaper to use a space heater than electric heat? ›

    Using a space heater to target rooms you're using instead of heating the entire house is a surefire way to trim money off of your monthly energy spend. Space heaters cost about 20 cents per hour to operate, give or take, which is a whole lot cheaper than central heat for a home of almost any size.

    Is it cheaper to use gas radiators or electric heaters? ›

    electric heating cost is much cheaper. A single kilowatt-hour (kWh) unit of gas costs around 4.65p, whereas the average price for a kWh of electricity is more than 20p.

    Are panel heaters cheaper to run than oil filled radiators? ›

    This means that you'll need to use more power to heat your room with panel heaters than you would with energy efficient electric radiators. This in turn makes the heaters more expensive to run than radiators.

    How much does it cost to run an electric radiator per hour? ›

    The formula is as follows:

    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.

    What is the most cost effective way to heat? ›

    As a general rule, heating your home with a natural gas furnace is the cheapest way to keep warm through the winter months.

    What's the most cost effective heating? ›

    Gas and Oil. Electric heaters that are powered by the main electricity supply are very efficient in terms of how they convert energy into heat. In fact, electric heaters are 100% efficient. Gas central heating system are less efficient than this, with most operating in and around 90% efficiency which is pretty good.

    Why is radiator heat so good? ›

    With radiator heat, you will feel warmer at a lower temperature because there's no breeze. Quieter operation. Furnaces can make quite a bit of noise as they blow warm air throughout the home. Since there's no forced-air component to hot water heating, these systems work much more quietly.


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