Renfrewshire Council

Electric heating systems

Electric storage heating systems are very different from a gas central heating system. The majority of homes heated by electricity have a combination of storage heaters and panel heaters with an electric immersion heater for the hot water.

Storage heaters
These operate by storing heat during 'off-peak' periods when the electricity is cheaper, usually overnight. This heat is then released into the room the following day and evening.

There are two controls (input/charge and output/boost) on most storage heaters that have to be adjusted in anticipation of the following day's weather.

'Input' or 'charge' control
This must be set manually to ensure that an adequate amount of heat is stored during the night. In the winter, the input control must be set higher as the outside temperatures are usually colder.

'Output' or 'boost' control
The output control tells the heater how much heat to give out during the day. If this is at the maximum setting (usually 5 or 10) you will find that the stored heat is distributed fairly quickly.

It is important to set the controls to reflect the temperature outside and the times that you are in the property, e.g. if you are going out or to bed then turn the output down to the minimum setting.

Although storage heaters can be large and bulky in size because they use off-peak electricity they are much cheaper to run than panel heaters or bar fires. A well controlled storage heater should give you ten hours of useful heat a day.

As the weather gets warmer and you find you no longer need the storage heaters on, then simply turn them off at the wall. Be sure not to put clothing or ornaments on top of the heaters as they can become very hot and lead to a fire risk.

Electric immersion
Most electric storage heating systems use an electric immersion to heat hot water. This may be using 'peak' or more commonly 'off-peak' electricity (usually between 11.30pm and 8.30am). If using the latter to heat water then this will be controlled automatically by a timer and the whole tank will be heated for about five hours overnight.

The water temperature can be boosted during the day, at the peak rate, if required. If using peak electricity only, switch the immersion on for the period required to heat the water. It is expensive to keep the immersion on for long periods during 'peak' times.

Economy 7 & Economy 10 Tariffs
Both E7 and E10 tariffs were designed to be used with storage heaters, under floor heating and electric boilers.

Economy 7 is an electricity tariff which provides 7 hours of off peak electricity during night time hours. There are different pricing structures according to the time of day.  The energy you use during the night costs less, per unit, than energy used during the day with Economy 7.

Although you can heat your water and storage heaters continually throughout the night, this may be insufficient to last you through the day.

Moving to an Economy 7 tariff involves a change of meter. (There may be a charge for this).

In contrast to E7, E10 provides 10 hours of off peak heating, split between 3 off peak periods. This tariff is only available at present from Scottish Hydro Electric