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Is Economy 7 the Best Tariff for Electrically Heating your Home?

With our modern 24/7 lifestyles and new technology the answer is – probably not!

The Economy 7 tariff was introduced in the 1970’s when the power stations were producing excess electricity at night, a cheaper rate for night time electricity encouraged better consumption, and thus storage heaters became very popular, at that time few homes had mains gas or central heating as we know it today, so storage heaters were a popular and easy to install choice, providing a good amount of heat from one or two energy greedy units.

Running your home on Economy 7 requires a certain amount of thought to take advantage of the cheaper rate electricity, storage heaters consume electricity at night to pump out heat the following day, however many older ones have little in the way of control which means the house is hot in the morning and the heater has often “run out” by evening meaning the use of an alternative heater to keep the house warm in the evening.  Daytime rates have become very expensive, please check with your supplier, so any daytime use can cost far more per unit than a standard rate! So, for those who are at home during the day, simple tasks like cooking, watching tv, using lights and chargers are all costing more money. Your energy supplier is able to look at your energy use by day and night to see if an alternative tariff would be better, and then by changing over to a more energy efficient form of electric heating your total energy use can be reduced.

Changing your tariff is easy, although it may involve a lengthy phone call, you should not need a new meter, when the man comes to read the meter he will simply take the two readings, originally labelled day and night time, and enter those both on the one standard tariff. Charitable organisations across the country have been set up to help people to lower their energy use, advisors often recommend getting rid of old storage heaters and the Economy 7 tariff!

What is the modern alternative to storage heaters?

There are two distinct categories – electric radiators or infrared heating panels

Electric radiators are designed to blow hot air in a similar fashion to the storage heater, they are more energy efficient than their predecessors purely by design and the use of timers and temperature controls, so your energy use will be lower.

Infrared heating is a totally new concept to heating homes, changing the way we think and use our electrical energy. Panel heaters have a very low use of electrical energy and come in a range of designs from plain white to mirrors or even pictures.

They have been widely used in the energy conscious Germanic regions of Europe for many years. Infrared naturally found coming from sunshine warms surfaces directly, we have all felt the suns warmth on a cold winters day, felt the warmth from a stone wall or sandy beach, this principle is used in our homes to warm surfaces, creating a warmed thermal mass, which then radiates warmth to heat the air and make us feel cosy.

Infrared panel heaters can utilise the existing wiring socket from an old storage heater. Panels vary from around 300 watts up to 800 watts which is very little compared to the old storage heater of 3000 watts, so even on a standard electricity tariff the running cost will be lower, and it does mean you can have a dedicated heater in every room rather than just one in the living area! Again, the use of timers and thermostats ensures electrical use is kept to a minimum whilst heating the rooms as and when you want warmth.

This blog was provided by Heather from Multiheat Energy Systems