AS temperatures drop, many of us are still looking for cheap ways to heat our homes during chillier days.
Electric heaters can offer a different solution to traditional central heating – but there are pitfalls to using them.
Below, we look at the running costs of an electric heater.
An electric heater is a plug-in device that works as electricity is passed through a resistor and converted into heat.
The portable appliances are usually cheap and seem like an obvious solution to staying warm.
Because you can apply the heat directly at you and warm up just the room you're using, you'd think it would be a cheaper alternative to turning on the heating.
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But actually, these types of heaters actually use a lot more energy than you think.
Here's the equation you use to work out how much your devices are costing you:
Cost = power (kilowatt) x cost of one kWh (pence) x the length of time (just the one off meal, or over a week or month.)
How much to run an electric heater?
According to price comparison site Uswitch, the average households uses a plug-in electric heater for around an hour a week.
It costs around 55p to run the device for an hour, so this works out at around £28.62 a year.
Of course, this price will vary depending on how long you use the device for.
For example, if you have an electric heater on in the living room and one in the bedroom, this will add £57.24 to your energy bill.
If you want a cheaper alternative, a log burner might be a cheaper solution.
Or you could cosy up under an electric blanket.
We have also revealed how to use a thermostat to save on your bills.
Risks to keep in mind
Just because electric heaters might cost you less, there are still risks to consider when using them.
Because the hot bars on electric heaters are exposed, they could easily spark a fire if they come into contact with household items.
Here are some points to consider first if you've bought an electrical heater and plan to use it:
- It should be on a level surface – you don't want it to be knocked over or fall off
- Keep it well away from flammable objects like paper, furniture or curtains
- Never use it to dry your clothes
- Don't leave it unattended for long periods of time, especially when you're asleep
- You should never power it from an extension lead – they can overheat and start a fire fast
- Always check your heater for damage and deterioration – do not use it if it's not in good condition
- Make sure you buy from manufacturers or retailers that you know and trust – second-hand heaters could be faulty
- Double check your appliance is registered and hasn't been recalled
- Have somebody check your smoke alarm or make sure you know it's working – it's imperative to detect anything that goes wrong about the house
Other ways to cut your energy bills
There are ways to reduce your energy bill without having to resort to unsafe practices.
This includes a few easy tips to remember, like closing your curtains in the evening.
So when temperatures naturally drop, you should draw them to keep the heat in, and then open them in the morning when the sun comes out.
You can also buy draught excluders which can be cheap – we spotted them on Amazon for £7.99 – but you should always shop around for better offers.
And always think about how much money you're spending on household appliances – the kettle is ranked one of the costliest, after the shower, heating and a fan-assisted oven.
You can read about how much they cost and how to keep prices down in our guides – like this one here.
Also, Energy Saving Trust estimates that between 9-16% of electricity used in homes is through appliances in standby mode.
On a bill of £500, this could account for as much as £80. We've rounded up the worst devices to leave on standby.
And remember installing a smart meter is free and usually provided by your energy supplier.
They keep a real-time record of your energy consumption so you can keep an eye on what you're using.
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There are also a handful of new cost of living payments to help with bills coming – including the Warm Home Discount and £900 one-off payment.
You can read more about those payments in our round up here.
You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.
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