We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

Updated: 25 May 2022

Storage heaters explained

What you need to know about storage heaters, including how much they cost and if night storage heaters could save money on your energy bills.
Sarah Ingrams
Storage heater on wall 451084

Storage heaters mean you can take advantage of lower off-peak electricity rates to heat your home.

They are part of an electric heating system and you'll need a time-of-use tariff (such as Economy 7 or Economy 10) to access cheaper electricity prices.

Keep reading to find out how storage heaters work and how much they cost. 

Use Which? Switch to compare electricity prices and check you're on the best tariff for your home.

How do storage heaters work?

Storage heaters store heat generated from cheap night time electricity and release it during the day.

They use electricity to heat up ceramic or clay bricks inside them overnight. Then they can release the heat gradually to keep your home warm the next day.

Night storage heaters are designed primarily for homes with time-of-use electricity tariffs, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10. These have cheaper rates for electricity overnight (around 12pm-7am but times vary). This means you can use cheaper off-peak electricity to heat your home during the day.

How much do storage heaters cost?

Storage heater on an inside wall

Storage heaters vary drastically in price, depending on the type and brand you choose. Cheaper, more basic models can cost as little as £150, but most cost £200 upwards.

More expensive storage heaters tend to be more efficient, and therefore cost less to run. 

Installing a replacement storage heater usually costs from about £70 if there is existing wiring. It will be pricier if it's a new installation or you need new wiring. Prices vary by location.

Storage heaters much be installed by a qualified electrician. Get at least three quotes because prices vary. 

Find a recommended electrician who has been through our rigorous checks by visiting Which? Trusted Traders or using our search tool below.

Are storage heaters expensive to run?

Economy 7 electricity meter

Even at off-peak rates, electricity is more expensive than gas. So storage heaters are only really cost-effective if you don't have mains gas. 

It can cost around £50 a month to run a 1.4kW storage heater. 

That's based on charging it for seven hours overnight at off-peak rates.*

Bear in mind that you'll likely have more than one storage heater to power, though you may need to run it for fewer hours each time.

Using your storage heater's boost function adds to heating costs because it uses pricier daytime electricity, rather than stored heat.

*Based on a cost of 17p/kWh, the cost of British Gas' Economy 7 tariff off-peak in November 2021.

Types of electric storage heaters

Modern electric storage heater on a pink wall

There were five main types of storage heater which varied by the level of control, energy efficiency and price.

However, from 1 January 2018, all newly-manufactured storage heaters must have certain features so that they comply with Lot20, part of the European Ecodesign Directive. This essentially means that all storage heaters you can buy now essentially work in the same way.

New electric storage heaters must have a minimum energy efficiency rating of 38% for a heat output above 250W. To meet this, heaters will often have:

  • digital programmers
  • open window sensors
  • electronic room temperature controls
  • wi-fi controls.

Generally speaking, the more you spend on a storage heater, the more features you'll get. 

Most modern models have built-in thermostats and many also have ‘fan-assist’ to help spread the heat around your home. Also look out for high-heat retention casing and ‘intelligent charge’.

If you've had storage heaters in your home for a while, they might be one of the following:

  • Manual storage heaters - the cheapest and most basic. They store energy at night and release heat automatically during the day. They continue running unless you switch them off.
  • Automatic combination - these combine a storatge heater and traditional electric convection heater. You can use the convection heater at any time for an instant boost of heat. They were usually installed in larger rooms where a storage heater alone was insufficient.

Storage heater features

Storage heater controls

Common useful storage heater features include:

  • Boost function: some storage heaters have a boost function to give you extra warmth when you need it
  • Fan assist: a number of storage heaters, usually auto-combination models, include a silent fan that helps to dispel heat more efficiently 
  • Programmable heating schedules: newer storage heaters should have controls to let you to set customised heating patterns for different days and times, just as you would with gas central heating
  • Size: if your room is large, or not very energy efficient, you may need a larger storage heater to warm it effectively
  • Thermostatic controls: new heaters have thermostatic controls, which will get the room heated to your chosen temperature
  • Remote controls: some models can be controlled via remote or from your smart phone over wi-fi.

Manual storage heaters are the cheapest to buy, but are very basic and don’t allow much control over the heat output. This can lead to wasted energy and overheated rooms. 

Because of this, manual storage heaters are gradually being phased out and replaced by more efficient, automatic models. An automatic storage heater will save you money in the long run, but usually cost more up front.

Pros and cons of storage heaters

Electric storage heater on a wall next to a work top

Pros

  • Cheaper to run compared with other types of electric heating that rely on peak-rate electricity
  • Modern storage heaters can release heat as needed, depending on the external temperature, which should help save on your bills
  • Storage heaters are very quiet, even if they have a fan
  • They're easy to install and can go anywhere that it's possible to wire them in.

Cons

  • Usually pricier than gas heating
  • Basic models can overheat rooms when they release excess heat
  • Your home might be coldest in the evening because the storage heater has often released most of its stored heat by then.

Need an extra burst of heat? We reveal the best electric heaters 

Storage heaters and solar panels

If you have solar panels, you could use the electricity they generate to charge your storage heaters during the day so you still have warmth in the evening.

Find out more about solar panels.

Asbestos in storage heaters

Some older storage heaters, typically those produced before 1974, used asbestos to reduce the risk of fire. If damaged, it may release asbestos dust and fibres. Breathing them in can cause damage to your lungs and contribute to a range of cancers. 

If you have an old storage heater in your home and are concerned that it contains asbestos, visit the Asbestos Information Centre for a full list of affected models. 

If you discover that your storage heater contains asbestos, contact your local council to organise the heater’s safe removal.