Despite having been in use for a long time in the UK, storage heaters have lost their luster and promise of keeping living spaces warm and cozy.
As a result, almost every homeowner is looking for an alternative to storage heaters to ensure their homes are well and efficiently heated.
There isn’t a doubt that storage heaters have been so popular since the 1970s because of cost-effective electricity tariffs like Economy 7 and Economy 10.
Night electricity tariffs have made it possible for people to electrically charge their storage heaters during the night and enjoy the heating during the day.
However, the thermal heat stored by the storage heaters in the ceramics or bricks is not used efficiently since most people spend less time at home during the day.
For example, a person working a 9-5 job is only present at home for a few hours in the morning and evenings, yet the storage heater runs throughout the day and heats the house in their absence.
Old storage heaters have little or no control options for releasing heat only when needed.
The low operational efficiency of electric storage heaters has made it necessary for homeowners to look for better and more efficient alternatives for heating their homes, especially during the painfully cold months of winter.
If you are looking for a heating system that will replace your current storage heaters, you are right on track. This article discusses six modern, energy-efficient alternatives to less efficient electric storage heaters.
Modern Energy-efficient Alternatives to Storage Heaters
When efficiency is your most significant concern, be sure to check out the following suitable replacements for old storage heaters.
Although expensive to run due to high electrical energy consumption, electric radiators offer 100% efficiency in that every electrical power input turns into heat. The high efficiency makes them your best bet when your biggest worry is efficiency, but you must dig deeper into your pockets.
Electric radiators are also highly controllable. You can program each radiator to control the temperatures of individual rooms according to your preference and occupancy pattern. They have digital thermostats that allow for accurate temperature readings and subsequent adjustments.
If you are short on space, the sleek design and compact sizes of electric radiators allow you to install them in various locations in the house.
Wall-mounted electric radiators are highly suitable for limited space, while the freestanding versions are remarkable for their portability.
Electric radiators are the best option if you spend a lot of time at home because they are for all-day use. However, their digital control systems allow you to switch them off any time you are away to avoid wastage of both electricity and heat.
Electric Panel Heaters
Although similar to electric radiators, electric panel heaters are best for secondary heating. As such, you can use them alongside your existing old storage heaters or other home heating systems.
Panel heaters heat rapidly to provide warmth when you most need it in places like guest rooms, spare living spaces, and home offices.
Like electric radiators, you can mount panel heaters on the wall. That said, there are some freestanding ones with attachable feet, making them portable and easy to use anywhere in the house as long as you can connect them to mains electricity.
Many electric panel heaters have digitally controlled programmers or remote control units to allow you to schedule heating or adjust them easily without walking up to them.
Although both electric radiators and electric panel heaters have greater efficiency in converting electrical energy into heat, they are more expensive than storage heaters and some other home heating solutions.
To keep costs down, ensure they’re only operational when you are at home.
Fan heaters are great to heat a specific area, especially an unoccupied one. For example, it can be a spare room, home office, or a guest room that you want to heat occasionally or use in a short while.
Fan heaters blow heat only in one direction, so you would have to use a fan heater to warm up a living space before you use it. They can be uncomfortable if directed at you.
To keep the operational efficiency of a fan heater at its peak, ensure it is always off whenever you are out of the room, or immediately you have heated the room enough to your desired level to keep it refreshed and mould-free.
Far Infrared Panels/Heaters
Like their storage heaters counterparts, infrared heaters have been around since their introduction in the 1960s and 70s. However, they somehow became less popular because they were extremely hot for residential spaces.
With continued research, scientists and manufacturers have shifted the focus from near-infrared that heats up beyond habitable temperatures to far-infrared heaters or panels that give out lower temperatures and eliminate visible light.
Far infrared heaters work by directly heating objects near them through radiation, just like the sun, rather than heating the air around them. Humans can easily absorb radiant heat (which is 100 safe) from the heaters because of the high water composition in the body.
Since they eliminate the need for a medium to transfer heat, infrared heaters are highly efficient at heating than other forms of heating that involve transferring heat to surrounding air.
The two most significant attributes of infrared panels are that they are highly subtle and cheap to buy or maintain. Their unobtrusive nature makes them highly versatile with easy installations like simple white panels or dual-purpose features such as doubling up as mirrors.
Despite their high efficiency, infrared heaters might not be your best bet if you are looking for digital control. You’ll have to buy additional controls. However, you can combine several panels in a given zone for easier control and more significant heating.
Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps
While they lose some of their efficiency when temperatures go lower into the negative ranges, ground source and air source heat pumps are still worth considering as alternatives to storage heaters.
A ground source heat pump absorbs heat from the ground and relays it to the house through a network of pipes laid vertically or horizontally in the ground. The pipes contain a mixture of water and antifreeze, which carries the heat around.
The heat exchanger in the system heats the absorbed heat further and channels it to a cylinder to heat water for domestic use or central heating.
An air-source heat pump is also installed outside but has a fan for pushing air inside the house. The pump has an exchanger coil and refrigerant fluid. The heat produced by the pump is used for central heating or to heat water for domestic use.
The two significant downsides of air source and ground source heat pumps are high installation cost and their requirement of other supplementary heating systems like underfloor heating.
An air-source heat pump will set you back between £4,000 and £12,000 in installation costs, depending on the pump model, nature and size of your home, and the installing company.
Ground source heat pumps are even more expensive and will cost you between £9,000 and £19,000 to install.
Despite the high initial cost, heat pumps are less expensive to maintain since they use less electricity to generate three or four times more energy than the amount they consume. They are thus highly efficient and worth considering as an alternative to storage heaters.
Electric Towel Rails
Electric towel rails are a great alternative to storage heaters if you only want to heat a small dedicated place like the bathroom. They double up as heaters and towel dryers.
Some towel rails have digital control features like Bluetooth, 24/7 programming, and varying heat levels to offer more flexibility depending on the warming needs in your bathroom and the ages of its common users.
Electric towel rails may assume varying designs, shapes, sizes, and colour. The two most common are glass-fronted and chrome ladder rails that you can mount on the wall for easy reach and added safety if there are children in the home.
What About Gas Heating?
Gas heating systems are also a great alternative to storage heaters but are about 90% efficient and are highly expensive, especially if you are not connected to the main gas grid.
A gas boiler for heating achieves about 90% efficiency, meaning not all the burning gas turns to heat.
If your home is not connected to the mains gas grid, the other gas heating solutions you can use are liquid petroleum gas (LPG) for the gas boiler or bottled gas for portable gas fires. LPG is versatile and highly reliable for domestic heating.
Bottled gas is quite expensive for heating and might be a nuisance because you have to keep refilling the bottle or cylinder quite often.
The good thing with gas heating is that you won’t require electricity to operate the systems, unlike all the other alternatives discussed above.
If you can get connected to the grid, mains gas is cheaper than electricity for home heating, but the efficiency level is lower at around 90%.
When boosting efficiency is the major concern that pushes you to look for an alternative to storage heaters, you will want to go with electric radiators since they achieve 100% efficiency.
Electric radiators also allow room for higher operational efficiency using the digital controls to switch them on only when you are present in the house or specific room you want to be heated.
For cheaper to operate alternatives, electric panels, towel rails, fan heaters, and mains gas systems will come in handy. Be sure to pick the solution with the highest efficiency but one that favours your wallet, so you don’t have to break the bank to stay warm.