When looking at different heating systems for your home, running costs play a big factor as to which system you decide upon. Even though it is worse for the environment, a gas heating system is cheaper to run than an electric system. Why? It generally boils down to the cost per kilowatt hour of electric (52p) versus gas (15p).
The running cost of home heating is also heavily influenced by other factors which include:
- Insulation of the building
- How the heating is controlled
- Age of the heating system
- The energy tariff you are on
But, if you’re considering electric heating for your home but are concerned about the running costs, then this blog is for you. We’ll provide some guidance on how you can enjoy electric heating in the most energy and cost-efficient way. Alternatively, if you are specifically looking at electric underfloor heating, check out the running cost calculator which provides a rough idea of the running costs you can expect.
Insulation and heat loss
One of the biggest causes of heat loss in your home is due to poor insulation. Let’s look at some facts:
- 25% of heat is lost through the roof when the home is poorly insulated.
- According to Northern Energy badly insulated walls account for 35%-40% of heat loss in homes.
- The Department for Energy suggests that a typical home loses 10% of its heat through windows.
If heat in your home is slowly being lost through small gaps in doors, floorboards and windows, it will be costing you money.
But why is this?
When you have your heating on, it will reach temperature, turn off, some heat escapes, the temperature drops a little and then the heating kicks back in. Heat loss not only causes your heating to kick in more regularly, it also will take longer to heat the space to your set temperature which all contributes to a higher energy bill. To help reduce heat loss there are a variety of draught-proofing measures you can do around the home from filling gaps in floorboards to ensuring your roof is adequately insulated.
If you are thinking about installing electric underfloor heating insulation plays an important role too. Without insulation board, the room will take longer to reach the desired temperature and that means it will cost you more money to run and you’ll be wasting energy. By including insulation board, you will reduce heat being lost downwards through the subfloor Instead, most of the heat will be heating the floor above and improve the efficiency of your electric underfloor heating system by up to 50%!
Smart heating control
When it comes to electric heating there is smart heating control in abundance. Whether it’s smart control for electric radiators or for your electric underfloor heating. there are a wide range of options available. In fact, smart thermostats have the most potential of any thermostat to help you to reduce your running cost of your electric underfloor heating system.
If you are already embracing smart technology in your home, then you are already a step closer to controlling your heating conveniently with your phone. A smart thermostat such as our SmartHome will not only enable you to control your heating via an app, but it will also monitor your energy consumption. If you’ve already got an Amazon Echo, you can even control your heating with your voice.
Heating systems which have smart capability are more feature-rich than others. The types of features will vary depending on the manufacturer or brand you choose but you’ll find typical smart functionality includes:
Clever use of data
Smart heating control provides you with all types of data including the times when you use the most energy, how long it takes to heat each room and where you can potentially reduce energy consumption which will help to reduce your energy bills.
Another great benefit with smart heating control is that you can create a much more detailed and customisable heating schedule to complement your lifestyle. For example, if you are usually out at certain times of the day or evening, it can even help you program your heating to switch off use setback temperature settings while you are not at home.
This is a clever bit of tech which sets a virtual perimeter around your home. When you have your phone with your mobile app installed, the smart heating control will turn off your heating when you leave the set perimeter and turn it on when you enter it. So, you never need to worry that you’ve left the heating on, using energy and spending money if you are not at home.
These types of alerts are pushed to your smartphone and will notify you if your heating temperature is getting too high so you can turn it down and help reduce energy waste. It also lets you know if it’s getting too cold so you can turn the heating up.
Detecting open windows
Even though this neat feature is available on programmable heating controls, it’s worth a mention. As well as programmable heating controls, smart heating controls can sense a drop in temperature when a window is open. You’ll receive an alert on their smartphone and the heating system can ether adjust accordingly or go in ‘standby mode’, so no energy is wasted trying to compensate for the sudden drop in temperature.
If you want to bring in some fresh air into your home, it’s generally recommended that you don’t leave your windows open for more than 10 minutes. Any longer and your home will start cooling down and any heat will be taken away and it will take longer for your home to reach your desired temperature.
Creating heating zones
Creating heating zones is a great way to help you run your heating more efficiently. If you have traditional central heating, you’ve most likely experienced ‘the heating challenge’. What is it? It’s the race to turn down all the radiators in rooms that you don’t need to be heated. Zoned heating is perfect for larger homes where different temperatures are required in different areas.
Electric heating offers a variety of systems that allow easier creation of heating zones. Electric underfloor heating by its very nature naturally creates a zone once installed and therefore much easier to control with a smart thermostat.
Getting the right electric heating system specification
If you plan to renovate or build from new, we recommend commissioning a heat loss calculation that will help you to choose the right electric heating system for your project. If you don’t install the correctly sized system, it will be less efficient which will result in a longer time for the room to reach the desired temperature and the system costing more to run.
A heat loss calculation will provide you with the data you need to choose the correct output. In the case of electric underfloor heating, this may even result in fewer cables and less power required needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. which is better for the environment and your bank balance.
If you are considering electric radiators or panel heaters, you’ll need to make sure the radiator(s) is the correct output for the size of the room.
The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a common measure of the heat a radiator with emit into the room. If the BTU is too low, the space will not reach the desired temperature. If you want to calculate the BTU requirements, you need to measure the length, width and height of the room and take into account windows and patio doors. The common BTU range for most standard-sized rooms is between 2000 – 6000 BTUs and there are free-to-use BTU calculators to help.
If you know the output (watts) of the radiator, simply multiply that by 3.41 to get the BTU/hr and if you have the BTU, you can divide it by 3.41 to get the watts or output you need.
For example, if the output of the electric radiator is 600W then the BTU/hr would be 2,046:
600(W) x 3.41 = 2,046 (BTU/hr)
Electric heating is a definitely a viable way to heat your home when specified, installed and used as it should be, particularly for well-insulated homes. However, if you have a question about anything covered in this heating blog, please contact one of the ThermoSphere team who will be happy to help.