Controlling your electric heating costs

Child warming up their hands over an electric radiator at home

This guide will help you understand the typical energy consumption and costs of electric heating and how to reduce them.

At the time of writing, we’re heading into the winter season with Covid-19 pandemic still with us. Many of us will be working from home or staying indoors more than usual to reduce the risk to our health.

An estimated 16.8 million people stay at home this winter amid the coronavirus outbreak

UK households used an estimated 15% more heating in March 2020 than the corresponding month in 2019. If you think about paying 15% more on your annual heating bill, that’s a significant increase indeed.

It’s clear that we will be relying on our heating much more than usual, which means our energy usage will increase and our costs will be higher. It’s estimated that households will spend an extra £100 on heating their homes this winter.

We want to do whatever we can to help you keep your bills low this winter and beyond. Read on to understand how you can reduce your costs while keeping warm.

Understanding energy consumption

The first step in controlling and reducing your electric heating costs is to understand the factors that affect the performance of your heating. 

Your home

The age of your home, its size, the number of external walls, and the quality of your insulation will all affect the efficiency of your heating system and have a considerable impact on energy consumption and costs.

Room size

If your radiator is too small for the room, it will struggle to reach a suitable temperature, especially in the colder months, and this will use more energy. And if you get a radiator that is too big, you’ll probably pay more than you needed to.


If you have modern insulation, then heat loss will be minimal, and your radiators will reach the desired temperature sooner. This means you heating will consume less electricity and consequently be cheaper to run.


The climate where you live will have a big part to play in how much energy is used heating your home. The north east of Scotland will have colder winters than central Scotland. A few degrees makes a significant difference when it comes to heating a home, and the energy consumed to heat it. You can see this effect in the graphic below that shows the ‘thermal zones’ across the UK and Ireland.

Thermal zones showing the local climates across the UK and Ireland

Image: Thermal zones across the UK and Ireland (where blue is a colder local climate and red is a warmer local climate)


Another factor in energy use is your lifestyle; how long you spend in your home through the year. For example, a young working couple may have different heating requirements compared with a retired couple. 


All heating systems will work harder in winter compared with the British summer due to lower temperatures.

How affordable is electric heating?

Electric heating is cost-effective and offers excellent energy efficiency. There is no energy wastage with electric heating because energy doesn’t escape through a flue (as with gas boiler systems). 

100% of the electricity used to power an electric radiator is converted into heat. This ensures less energy is required to run an electric radiator and you’re able to control the temperature in different rooms individually, rather than from one central control point, further cutting energy waste.

If you will be working from home this winter or will just be at home more, electric radiators are ideal. They are incredibly efficient at heating one or two areas of your home, for example, the room where you usually work or relax, for example, a study, living room, conservatory or even outdoor office.

Calculating the wattage you need for your rooms

It’s important to know if your electric radiators or storage heaters are under-powered or are producing too much heat for the size of the room you have. Your radiator or heater will have an output, measured in watts. To reach and maintain the ideal room temperature of 21°C, your radiator or heater must be capable of outputting enough heat (the wattage must be high enough).

Calculating the wattage you need for each room seems like a challenging task, but thankfully we have created a handy wattage calculator to help you. Simply measure the width and length of your room, answer the questions below, and the wattage required for your room will be calculated.

Try our heating calculator

(Opens in a new window/tab)

For rooms with ceiling heights for 4 metres and above, please contact us for custom calculations and free advice about heating your home.

You know your wattage requirements – now what?

Now that you know the wattage required for your rooms, you need to check your heaters to make sure they are capable of outputting the wattage you need. The wattage may be labelled on your radiator or heater, or you may need to have a look at your manual. Or you can always contact our friendly team for a bit of advice.

If your current heating system is capable of meeting the wattage requirements of your rooms, then you’re all set for the winter. If they don’t provide enough heating power (or are more than ten years old), it’s time to upgrade your electric radiators or storage heatings with more capable and efficient models.

Controlling costs with efficient electric heaters

With people spending more time living and working from home than ever before, what can be done to curb our ever-increasing heating bills? Once you know that your electric heating can deliver the heat you’ll need, one important question is; will it deliver that heat efficiently?

There are some features your radiators should have to help you control your energy consumption:

Accurate heating controls

Without accurate heating controls, you may be accidentally setting your heaters too high, meaning you will be wasting money, or too low, meaning your rooms won’t be warm enough.

Flexible programming

If you can programme your heating day-by-day or hour-by-hour, you can then schedule your heating to come on only when you need it, for example, the times you are active in individual rooms.

Built-in energy monitor

Some modern electric radiators have built-in energy monitors that allow you to  to keep an eye on your energy usage easily. And for every degree of temperature you reduce your heating by, you’ll save up to 8% in energy cost. 

Adaptable start functions/timer

An adaptable start timer or built-in function will allow you to programme your radiator so that the room is warm ready for when you need to use it.

Open window detection

A radiator with built-in open window detection functionality will automatically shut down when it senses a fall in temperature within a set time frame. This saves you money by avoiding unnecessary heating.

SMART controls

SMART stands for “Self-Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology”. Modern smart controllers and devices can learn what temperatures work best for you and your home.

They learn by tracking the inputs you make using the device to adjust temperatures and timings. Like how warm or cool you like your rooms to be. And what time you leave home and what time you return. 

Some can even respond to the weather conditions and adjust the radiator or heater temperatures automatically, saving you money without any effort at all.

Learn more about SMART controls for electric heating.

Other things you can do to control heating costs

Beyond selecting the right electric heaters, there are some actions you can take to help reduce your usage and costs:

Switch energy suppliers

Energy companies are looking for new customers at this time of year, so there’s likely to be lots of incentives on offer for switching. For example, using MSE’s Cheap Energy Club could save around £100’s a year by comparing and helping you switch energy suppliers without you having to do too much research online.

Turn your thermostat down by 1°C

The simple act of turning down your thermostat by 1°C can save you around £80 each year (based on the average household energy bill in the UK).

Only heat the rooms you use

By only heating the area where you are most active and closing the doors, the heat generated in that room will remain there.

Use localised heating controls

As well as using a thermostat and timer, using individual electric radiators rather than your entire electric heating system can save energy and money. This is especially effective when you lower the heating in rooms that aren’t used as frequently as others. 

Install radiator insulation panels 

Install radiator insulation panels for additional energy saving. These panels are relatively simple to install and will reflect the heat back into your room rather than allow it to be lost through the walls or windows. The panels can be purchased from most DIY stores.

Install effective insulation

Cavity wall insulation can cut around £115 off your heating bill each year, for example.

Draught excluders

You can fit draught excluders to outside doors, windows, and letterboxes to help keep heat inside.

New double glazing

Replacing all your old windows with modern double glazing is a significant investment. But, if you plan to stay in your home for the long-term, you could save you around £135 each year by stopping heat from escaping.


We hope this guide helps you control your electric heating costs this winter. In these challenging times, electric radiators offer a simple way to control the heating in your home and keep your heating bills under control, giving you one less thing to worry about. 

We offer a range of efficient, modern electric radiators and storage heaters that will give you noticeable value-for-money this winter, and for many years into the future. 

Use the links below to explore our range or use our heating design enquiry form to tell us what you need for your home. And you can always call our friendly team for advice about any electric heating on 01382 566942 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm).