When the temperatures drop, Many of us are still looking for affordable ways to heat our homes on cooler days.
Electric heaters can offer a different solution to traditional central heating – but there are dangers in using them.
Below we look at the operating costs of an electric heater.
An electric heater is a plug-in device in which electricity is passed through a resistor and converted into heat.
The portable devices are usually inexpensive and seem like an obvious solution for keeping warm.
Since you can apply the heat directly to you and only warm up the space you’re using, you might think that this would be a cheaper alternative to turning on the heater.
However, these types of heaters actually use a lot more energy than you think.
Use the following equation to determine how much your equipment costs you:
Cost = electricity (kilowatts) x cost of one kWh (pence) x length of time (just a single meal or over a week or month).
How much does it cost to operate an electric heater?
According to the price comparison site Uswitch, average households use a plug-in electric heater for around one hour per week.
It costs around 55p to run the device for an hour, so that’s around £28.62 a year.
Of course, this price varies depending on how long you use the device.
For example, if you have an electric heater on in the living room and bedroom, your energy bill will increase by £57.24.
If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, a wood stove could be a more affordable solution.
Or you can make yourself comfortable under an electric blanket.
We also revealed how you can save money with a thermostat.
Risks to keep in mind
Even though electric heaters may cost less, there are still risks to consider when using them.
Because the hot rods of electric heaters are exposed, they can easily start a fire if they come into contact with household items.
Here are some points you should consider first if you have purchased an electric heater and plan to use it:
- It should be on a flat surface – you don’t want it to be knocked over or fall down
- Keep it away from flammable objects such as paper, furniture or curtains
- Never use it to dry your clothes
- Do not leave it unattended for long periods of time, especially when you are sleeping
- You should never power it using an extension cord – it can overheat and quickly start a fire
- Always check your heater for damage and signs of wear and tear – do not use it if it is not in good condition
- Make sure you buy from manufacturers or dealers you know and trust – used heaters could be defective
- Double check that your device is registered and has not been recalled
- Have someone check your smoke alarm or make sure it’s working – it’s important to detect anything that’s going wrong in the house
Other ways to reduce your energy costs
There are ways to reduce your energy bill without resorting to unsafe practices.
These include a few simple tips to remember, such as closing the curtains in the evening.
So when temperatures naturally drop, you should open them to keep the heat in and then open them in the morning when the sun comes out.
You can also buy draft excluders for cheap – we spotted them on Amazon for £7.99 – but you should always look for better deals.
And always think about how much money you spend on household appliances – the kettle is one of the most expensive appliances, after the shower, the heater and a convection oven.
You can find out how much they cost and how to keep prices low in our guides – like this one.
Additionally, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that between 9 and 16% of household electricity consumption comes from appliances in standby mode.
For a bill over £500 this could be up to £80. We’ve rounded up the worst devices to leave on standby.
And remember that installing a smart meter is free and usually provided by your energy supplier.
They record your energy consumption in real time, so you can keep track of what you use.
There are also a handful of new living expenses payments to help with upcoming bills – including the Warm Home Discount and a one-off payment of £900.
For more information about these payments, see our summary here.
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