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Night storage heaters

Night storage heaters can be a good option for households who use electricity to heat their home

A typical storage heater is wall-mounted and looks a bit like a radiator. It works by drawing electricity over the course of a few hours at night, and storing it as heat in a ‘bank’ of clay or ceramic bricks to use the following day.

As a consequence storage heaters work best if the household is on an Economy 7 tariff. This is an arrangement with an energy supplier by which the electricity that a household uses at night is much cheaper than that used during the day – typically about a third of the price.

The hours of cheap electricity are normally from 12 midnight until 07.00 in winter, and from 01.00 to 08.00 in summer, although this can vary.

[NB. If you have night storage heaters or an electric heating system in your home, you’ll be paying far more for heating bills than you need to. Find out about funding available to install a new, more cost effective, gas heating system - making your bills more affordable.]

Night storage heater controls can be a bit confusing, so we've produced a short (2 minute) video describing how to use them. Depending on your needs and circumstances (i.e. when you are at home during the day and how much warmth you require), your ideal settings may vary from those demonstrated in this video, and may change from day-to-day.

Every storage heater has a set of simple controls. An input setting allows you to regulate the amount of heat that the heater stores during the night. This is important because, even though night-rate electricity is cheap, there’s no point paying for more than you need. If it’s not particularly cold, or you’ll be out of the house for most of the day, you don’t need to set the input to maximum because there’s no point storing so much heat. Most storage heaters will only charge up at night, so there is no danger of using expensive day-rate electricity.

The controls also have an output setting that allows you to regulate the amount of heat that the storage heater gives off. It means you don’t have to use up all the stored heat at once, but can let it out gradually, saving some for the evening if you want to.

Some storage heaters have a timer that gives you even more control over the output. It allows you, for example, to programme your heater to come on at a time that suits you, for example when you get up in the morning or just before you get back from work. Others include a control that regulates the amount of charge the heater draws at night, depending on the temperature.

Some storage heaters have a ‘boost’ setting. This doesn’t use ‘cheap-rate’ stored heat, but uses ‘peak-rate’ electricity directly from the mains, so it should only be used if the stored heat has run out.

CASE STUDY: Jack and Gwen’s storage heater

Jack and Gwen are a retired couple living in a rural area. They are off the mains gas network and use electricity for their heating and hot water. They have storage heaters to take advantage of the Economy 7 tariff that they have chosen.

In winter, they are in for most of the day. This means they want the storage heater to charge fully at night, so they set the input to ‘6’ and the output to ‘1’ or ‘off’. In the morning, to warm the house up, they turn the output to ‘4’. Once the house is warm, they turn it down to 2, and in the evening when it becomes chillier, they turn it up to 5 or 6 to use up the remaining stored heat.

Storage heater tips for lower bills

  1. The output setting of your storage heater should be turned off at night and also turned off when you are out of the room or out of the house
  2. Don’t use the boost setting except when you really need the extra heat
  3. Avoid using supplementary plug-in heaters – it’s better to turn up the input on your storage heater and store more heat

This information is available to download as an easy read leaflet.

Frequently asked questions

Are electric storage heaters as cost effective as gas central heating?

Generally electric storage heaters are more expensive to run than gas central heating. However to keep costs down homeowners with electric storage heaters should ensure they are on Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariffs to take advantage of lower, off-peak electricity prices at night.

Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234

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Who should I contact to get my electric storage heaters serviced?

A qualified electrician would be able to service electric storage heaters.

Need more help?

We can advise you about saving energy, or help you understand what grants and support you're eligible for:

Contact us Or freephone: 0800 082 2234

Next question

View all frequently asked questions

Download the PDF

Download this PDF document

This information is available as a freely downloadable PDF from this page.

For more domestic energy advice, view all our advice pages.

Fan-assisted storage heaters

Fan-assisted storage heaters are more sophisticated and can further reduce your energy use and electricity bills.

Read this PDF leaflet to find out more.

Priority Services Register

If you live in the green or blue areas, we can sign you up to your local priority services register if you're over 60 or you rely on electricity for medical or mobility reasons or you have a hearing or visual impairment or a long-term health condition.

Click here for details.

Funding for heating upgrades

If you have electric heating in your home, there's funding available to help upgrade your heating system - saving you energy and money! 

Find out more here.

Get advice at an event.

Meet us at an event to find out about support available to stay warm & reduce your bills this winter, including saving energy with smart meters.

See upcoming events here.