Can You Heat a House with Electric Heaters?

Exploring the Efficiency and Practicality of Heating Your Home with Electric Heaters


Many people wonder if it’s possible to heat a house using electric heaters. The answer is yes, you definitely can, and many people in the UK do just that. However, there are several factors to consider, such as the efficiency of your home’s insulation, the cost of electricity, and the type of electric heater you choose.

Electric Heating vs Gas Central Heating

When comparing electric heaters to gas central heating, it’s important to note that gas is often cheaper to use. As of now, gas is around three times less expensive than electricity. However, if your only choice is electric, it’s crucial to choose heaters with thermostats. Thermostats allow the heaters to run efficiently by maintaining a steady temperature, which can help keep costs down.

What You Need to Know Before Buying Whole House Electric Heaters

Before purchasing electric heaters for your entire house, it’s crucial to determine the right heat output for each room. This ensures that each space is adequately heated without wasting energy or money. If a heater is too small for a room, it will have to work harder to heat the space, consuming more electricity. Conversely, an oversized heater will consume more energy than necessary.

Determining the Right Heat Output

The first step is determining the correct heat output for each room. This is typically measured in watts or British Thermal Units (BTUs). A simple rule of thumb is that you’ll need approximately 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of space. So, a 150-square-foot room would require a 1,500-watt heater. However, this is a rough estimate and other factors such as ceiling height, insulation quality, and number of windows can influence the required heat output.

Size Matters

The size of the electric heater matters significantly. If a heater is too small for a room, it will struggle to provide enough warmth, resulting in it running continuously and consuming more energy. On the other hand, an oversized heater will cycle on and off frequently, leading to inefficient operation and increased wear and tear. It’s also likely to produce excess heat, making the room uncomfortably warm and wasting energy.

Consider the Room’s Use

Different rooms in your home have different heating needs. Rooms that are used frequently, like the living room or kitchen, may require more heating than a seldom-used guest room. Bedrooms often need less heating, as cooler temperatures are generally more conducive to sleep.

Energy Efficiency

Look for electric heaters with high energy efficiency ratings. Models with features like programmable timers, adjustable thermostats, and eco modes can help reduce energy consumption by allowing you to tailor heating to your specific needs.

Understanding the Common Heat Output of Electric Heaters

The heat output of electric heaters is a critical factor in determining their effectiveness and efficiency. This output is commonly measured in watts, which is a unit of power. To better understand this, let’s delve into the details.

Measuring Heat Output

A watt (W) is a unit of power that measures the rate of energy transfer. One kilowatt (kW) equals 1,000 watts. When we talk about an electric heater’s heat output, we often refer to its wattage.

In the context of electric heaters, this wattage represents the amount of electricity the heater needs to run at its full capacity. For instance, a 1,500-watt heater uses 1.5 kilowatts of power to operate at maximum output for one hour. This energy usage is then translated into kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the unit used by most utility companies to bill for electricity.

Heat Output and Room Size

Heat output is also vital when it comes to matching an electric heater to the room size it needs to warm. As a basic guideline, you will need approximately 10 watts of heating power for every square foot of space. Therefore, a 150-square-foot room would require a 1,500-watt heater to heat effectively.

However, this is a general rule and actual requirements can vary based on factors like insulation, number of windows, and ceiling height. This means that larger rooms or spaces with poor insulation may require heaters with higher wattages.

Energy Efficiency

Understanding the heat output of electric heaters can also help in assessing their energy efficiency. A heater with a high wattage might produce more heat, but it will also consume more electricity. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a balance between the heat output and the energy consumption.

Modern electric heaters often come with adjustable thermostats and multiple output settings, allowing you to control the heat output based on your needs. This feature can help save energy and reduce electricity bills.

Best Types of Whole House Electric Heating: A Closer Look

Choosing the right type of electric heating for your home can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many options available. When it comes to whole-house electric heating, two types typically stand out due to their efficiency and effectiveness: convectors and oil-filled radiators.

Convector Heaters

Convector heaters function by drawing in cool air from the room, heating it up internally, and then releasing it back into the room. This process creates a cycle of warm air rising and cooler air being drawn in. The main advantage of these heaters is that they provide instant heat, making them an excellent choice for quick warmth.

However, one drawback of convector heaters is that the heat dissipates quickly when the heater is turned off, resulting in a rapid cool-down. This characteristic makes them a suitable option for poorly insulated houses where quick and intermittent heating might be more beneficial than sustained heat.

Oil Filled Radiators

Oil filled radiators, as the name suggests, are filled with thermal oil. They work by heating this oil, which then circulates around the radiator’s coils, emitting heat. Unlike convector heaters, the oil in these radiators stays hot for a significant period even after the heater is switched off, providing a consistent and long-lasting source of heat.

This attribute makes oil filled radiators similar to traditional gas central heating radiators and a preferred choice for well-insulated homes where maintaining a consistent temperature is desired. Additionally, these radiators emit a cosy, radiant heat, creating a comfortable environment during cold weather.

It’s important to note that while oil filled radiators take longer to heat up compared to convectors, they offer a more efficient use of power and can result in lower energy costs over time.

Making the Right Choice

In conclusion, both convector heaters and oil filled radiators have their unique advantages and are suited to different types of homes and heating needs. The decision between the two should be based on factors such as insulation quality, room size, how often the space is used, and personal comfort preferences.

Remember, efficient use of electric heaters is key to keeping costs down. Look for features like adjustable thermostats and energy-saving modes when selecting a heater. It’s also important to consider safety features, particularly if the heaters will be used in rooms frequented by children or pets.