Storage Heaters: How to Use Them

Many houses and apartments in Aberystwyth run off electric heating – commonly known as storage heaters. Many people will shy away from a property with electric heating, opting for gas run central heating systems, but storage heaters aren’t all that bad. We wanted to write a Tenant Guide that helps explain how exactly storage heaters are used, and why it’s important to do so.

How do I know a property has storage heaters?

Typically, storage heaters are mounted up on the wall (so you can’t move them along the floor on wheels, like an oil filled heater). When you go to rent a property, the type of heating can usually be found in the description, but if you’re not sure – make sure to ask the letting agent showing you around. In most cases, the electricity will also be Economy 7.

How do they work?

Every heater is made up of a set of bricks (usually clay or ceramic). Over night (when electricity is cheaper), the heater will draw electricity in, in the form of heat and be absorbed into the bricks. By morning, the bricks will start releasing the heat and let it out slowly throughout the day. So basically, a storage heater will heat up over night and release heat all day.

This doesn’t seem logical?

Of course, in the bitter cold windy days (like we’ve been having recently), releasing heat during the day when you’re not at work isn’t quite logical, we agree. However, storage heaters were designed to reduce electricity bills, by using electric when it costs less (between midnight and 7am usually). They keep the house warm during the day, which we recommend highly – check the reasons below.

Ok, what do the two dials mean?

You will often find two dials at the top of the storage heater (this might differ if your landlord has installed very new ones). The dials are for INPUT and OUTPUT.

Input: how much electricity you want the heater to store

Output: how hot/fast you want the heat to be released

We’d always recommend a middle setting for both – you don’t want to release heat too quickly or too hot, because you’ll end up with cold bricks much sooner. Some newer storage heaters might also have timers, so it’s worth having a good nose and seeing what settings you have to use.

I’d prefer to buy an oil heater and put it on when I’m home.

As we mentioned above, of course on bitter cold days you may feel the need for extra heat but you still must use storage heaters. The main reason? Condensation.

If the weather is cold or wet, the only time a house can dry out (especially over our long, Welsh winter months) is when the heating is on. If you turn the heating off, the walls will lose their heat and begin to feel cold to the touch. Condensation will gather on these colder walls (outside walls for example will see this much more). You’ll find very quickly that the walls will either saturate (appear wet) or begin to grow black mould.

If you prefer to buy an oil heater and use this, it means you are only using the heating when you are in the house. Also, these types of heaters will increase your moisture content in the air, as the rooms will go from being very warm for a couple of hours in the evening, to much colder throughout the day.

If you are worried about Condensation in the household, please read our other tenant guide for some tips and advice.

Another reason to use your storage heaters over oil heaters? They are actually much cheaper to run that the oil heaters and are much more economical.