High heat retention storage heaters

Priority for Completion: Low

From the point of view of Domestic Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) electric heating should be a last resort. This is due to it having a high running cost and therefore generating a poor rating. Additionally, it is unlikely to be beneficial from an environmental point of view as alternative technologies have a much lower carbon footprint, even when renewable electricity is used. Therefore, we would always advise clients considering using or upgrading electric heating to consider alternative technologies and fuel types. This should include heat pumps and radiant heating technologies.

Where electric space heating is the only practicable solution, only high heat retention storage heaters from the Product Characteristics Database (PCBD) should be used. Considering this, we have rated this recommendation as low priority for completion.

To check the PCBD list of high heat retention storage heaters click here.

What are storage heaters?

There are a large number of electric heaters available on the market. It can also be difficult to work out exactly which technology you are getting. We have found advertising materials for some systems to be somewhat misleading adding to the confusion.

Storage heaters all have the same principle in common. They allow the use of cheaper electricity available at specific times to heat your home rather than using more expensive peak electricity.

The concept is quite simple. Cheaper electricity (usually available overnight on an Economy 7 tariff) is used to heat up a reservoir within the radiator. In older storage heaters this was as simple as clay bricks but most modern heaters use specialist ceramics. This heat is then released when it is needed to heat the room. Sometimes storage heaters are combined with standard electric heaters to provide an additional "boost" of heat.

The operation of a storage heater can be improved by adding a fan to help distribute the heat from the reservoir when it is required. This gave a second generation of storage heaters known as fan assisted storage heaters.

The current generation of high efficiency storage heaters are known as high heat retention storage heaters. These combine a fan to distribute heat when it is required with high efficiency insulation. In addition, these often use more advance and even smart controls to ensure that heat is only distributed when it is required and to minimise any electricity waste.

To be considered energy efficient for EPC purposes any high heat retention storage heater must undergo thorough testing. Heaters that have been approved are included in the Product Characteristics Database (PCBD). Without this approval the heater cannot be included as such in an EPC assessment and will usually be included as a standard electric heater. This will have a significant detrimental impact on the rating which is usually also reflected in real world heating costs. Therefore, we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to check that any storage heater you consider is included in the database before purchase or installation. To check the PCBD list of high heat retention storage heaters click here.

Fitting these heaters

Fitting storage heaters requires professional assistance from a competent person. They require connecting to your mains electricity supply and circuit loads must be properly calculated otherwise a fire can result. Additionally, installation of storage heaters for the first time or in new positions often requires extension rewiring including the addition of new circuits.