I don’t know where in the world you are, but for me here in Northern Ireland, these last few days have been quite notable in terms of the weather, or should I say the turn in the weather. It seems like every year we all forget that after the clocks go by there are only ever a few days before things get properly chilly.
For anyone who’s still lucky enough to have their heating idling along at lower levels to combat those fierce evenings, you’ll not have to worry about keeping the home warm. But what about those of us who need a little help with the likes of spare bedrooms, conservatories, and the living room at this time of year? Well, many people are now turning to electric heating as a cheaper solution to getting the floor ripped up and new pipes laid down, although there are still reservations about whether electric heating is all it is cracked up to be.
That’s what I want to highlight here as I lay out what you need to know about electric heating. I can’t promise you’ll finish this article as an electrical expert, but you might come away with a few new ideas on how to keep your home warm.
Understanding proper electric heating
If you think electric heating is all about moving those tiny heaters around a room and plugging them into heat for what feels like an eternity, you have electric heating all wrong. That isn’t what modern electric heating is. It is actually about radiators and towel rails which look just like any normal radiator but are never plumbed into your heating (except for one type which I’ll get to later).
Instead, you hang them on the wall and have them plugged in or wired in like your washing machine or cooker. Just look at these examples at Trade Radiators to get an idea of what I mean. They look exactly the same, and no one is any the wiser.
I’m a massive fan for a few reasons. Firstly, they give you much more freedom and you can choose when you want a room warm. They stop you from wasting fuel by heating the rest of the house. And, if one ever stops heating up, you know it’s a problem with that exact radiator and won’t have to go checking every single radiator for any hidden problems.
Oh, and did I mention they’re usually anywhere from 40% to 80% cheaper to run than blow heaters? A win-win in my books.
Having some compromise
Radiators are typically seen as quite an old school piece of kit in your home. You can shout at smart speakers to play music and turn the heating on, but it always seems like radiators are just reliant on hot water pumping through. If you don’t want to go fully electric or have recently updated your central heating system, you’ll want the best of both worlds, and I know just the right type of compromise; dual-fuel heating.
It surprises me how little people know about this. If you have certain rooms at home that only ever get used at odd times, or when the heating is off, you don’t want to be in the situation of turning off every other radiator or dragging around a blow heater that sucks up all the energy. Dual-fuel radiators can flip between your normal heating and electric at the literal flick of a switch. They’re made to take water in while on normal mode, but also have an electric element inside which closes off any incoming water and uses an electric element to heat just that radiator.
Even in the summer months here in the UK, having a dynamic little thing like that on your radiator is going to see those bad habits of popping the heating on for an hour or two get nipped in the bud.
Knowing your (heating) limits!
This isn’t a warning that having electric radiators will cause a fuse to blow, but rather to take heed of the equivalent output electric radiators provide. Every normal radiator in your home has a heat output level known as its BTU limit. Without getting bogged down in the science, it essentially means that a room has a certain BTU level it needs to get warm, and you need to have a radiator(s) in place to hit that number.
When swapping out an old radiator for an electrical model or adding in an electrical radiator for a little oomph, you want to make sure that your new radiators do indeed hit those same levels. You can’t just expect that a 600mm by 600mm electric radiator will be exactly the same. Work out what BTU you need (just Google “heating calculator” to find out) and then work within a BTU range to find the right-sized electric radiator.
That’s pretty much the barebones of what there is to know about electric heating. Now go forth and see if it’s the right fit for your home.