Feeling a bit chilly? When so many of us are spending more time at home, the promise of warmth and comfort from an electric heater is an enticing prospect during the colder months. But electric heaters vary a lot, and each type has its own benefits and foibles.
To help you avoid any regrets or nuisances down the line, we’ve rounded up our top expert tips to help save you from six of the most common mistakes people make when buying and using electric heaters.
What you need to know about buying an electric heater, plus our pick of the models that will heat your home quickly and without racking up your energy bills – see how to buy the best electric heater
1. Expensive electric heaters aren’t always better
Our research has revealed expensive heaters that are noisy and take ages to heat up a room, as well as some bargain heaters which are top performers. For example, one of our Best Buy heaters is only £34, while the worst heater we’ve tested is over £100.
There’s actually a £60 difference between the two best heaters that we’ve tested, which earned the exact same test score after being put through our tough electric heater lab tests.
Simply put, price is no guarantee of quality when you’re buying an electric heater. So if you want to make sure you’re buying a good heater that will keep you toasty without racking up your energy bills, make sure you check out our electric heater reviews before you buy.
2. Don’t buy a heater that doesn’t suit your specific needs
If you’re cooped up in your home office or bedroom all day, you could save a lot of money by buying an oil-filled heater which emanates heat even when it’s not working, as long as the oil has been heated.
But you’d be disappointed by an oil-filled heater if you need something you can move between rooms, or turn on for a quick burst of heat at any time, because they’re so slow and heavy.
If you rely on central heating most of the time and just want some heating for short periods, like early in the morning when you’re getting ready, or late in the evening when you’re curled up watching the television, then a fan or convector heater would be right up your alley.
But this is only the start. For example, fan heaters are usually much louder than convector heaters, so you’ll want to consider what you’re willing to put up with depending on your lifestyle.
It’s important to think about how you’ll use your heater and what sort of preferences it should accommodate. To help you choose the right model for your needs, see our guide on how to buy the best electric heater.
3. Don’t buy an electric heater that clutters or detracts from your room
This can be a matter of taste, but there’s also an important safety aspect to this as well. You do not want to crowd a very hot heater among objects which could pose a serious fire risk.
So you should think about where you could put a heater and what sort of dimensions it needs to be. We have the dimensions of every heater that we’ve tested in our electric heater reviews, so you can check before you buy.
There are different styles of heater you can buy to complement your room. For example, tall heaters like the Dimplex DXSTG25 Ceramic Fan Tower will look elegant in a modern, spacious room. On the other hand, you could avoid using up floor space by mounting a heater like the DeLonghi HCX9124E on your wall.
Your heater will be a major part of your home during the cold winter months. You should think about how it will fit in.
4. Don’t dry your washing on it
This is a fire risk and should be absolutely avoided. That’s reason enough, but it should also be noted that hanging wet washing on a heater can impede the effectiveness of its heating and disturb its thermostatic control. This will cause the heater to misjudge how much heat it needs to be producing.
Though it may be tempting to drape a few sodden socks over your portable radiator, it’s not a good idea.
5. Don’t leave it on overnight — or unsupervised — without considering this
If you have a freestanding heater and it gets knocked over, stand it back up immediately as it’s a fire risk.
This is a particular concern if you have pets. They love the warmth that emanates from the heater and can be prone to cuddle up to it. So keep an eye on your heater during and day and don’t leave it on overnight if there’s any risk of it being disturbed or coming into contact with anything.
A heater that’s fixed into place – for example, because it’s wall-mounted – poses less of a risk.
6. Don’t use your electric heater to warm multiple rooms
Electric heaters aren’t designed to heat a whole house or flat, and they aren’t up to the job of heating numerous rooms from one position. This is also uneconomical — central heating, expensive as it is, is much more effective at heating your whole property evenly while being more efficient with your energy.
To avoid burning a hole through your pocket and harming the environment, use an electric heater to heat specific rooms at useful times.
Use your heater in tandem with the central heating, rather than as a replacement for it, and you can create optimal conditions where your home is maintained at a mild temperature while your electric heater keeps you toasty where you are.
Only heaters that are quick to raise a room’s temperature, can maintain a stable temperature and are energy efficient make it onto our list of Best Buy electric heaters.
(The prices shared in this article are correct as of October 2020, but we’re always updating our information as prices change and as we test new models.)