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Storage heaters

(9 Posts)
Emmahart75 Mon 05-Jan-15 00:50:14

Hi we have just moved into a flat that has storage heaters and two switches on the tank.

We are told we have to stay with Scottish power due to two meters. Been told that we are on comfort plus.

Our first months bill was frightening - I can't see a timer on the immersion so was wondering if anyone could help. I only have two of the storage heaters on.

Should both switches be left on or just one or none?

Many thanks
Em x

PigletJohn Mon 05-Jan-15 10:23:37

Probably the off-peak meter has a timer to turn the immersion and storage heaters on during the night.

Your hot water cylinder might have got two switches, one for off-peak and one for daytime (only to be used for top-ups if the hot water runs out). There is probably a separate timer. It may have a radio-controlled switch or a clock in it.

What colour is the cylinder? This is important. Photos of the wiring and switches around it will help.

Ask your electricity supply for the details of your tariff. You want to know the hours and the prices per kWh and the standing charge.

You can change to another supplier if they have a better price or hours.

Avoid prepayment meters if you possibly can.

In your meters, there is a horizontal spinning disk. The faster it spins, the more electricity is going through that meter. By turning the immersion heater switch(es) on and off you can see which meter is being used at various times.

Input your meter readings online every month for accurate bills, and keep a separate note in a diary or calender (note the weather and any changes to settings).

If you are at home all day, and are elderly or have small children, and go to bed early, storage heaters are not too bad. If you are out all day, they will warm your home while it is empty, and run cold by evening.

Your heaters probably have knobs or switches to adjust input high/low (controls electricity used to get them hot) and output high/low (controls how fast they emit the heat and go cold). Try setting both to low and see if that keeps your home adequately warm.

If you can run appliances such as a tumble drier, washer, dishwasher during your off-peak hours it will be good value. Tumble driers in particular should not be run unattended in case they catch fire.

I presume you are in a rented flat with no gas, otherwise you would probably not have storage heaters. Next time you move, avoid them. Do not drape towels or washing on top or they will overheat.

PigletJohn Mon 05-Jan-15 10:33:44

I see the cylinder pic now, it is blue which is good. Be frugal in your use of hot water but do not use kettles which cost more. When you know your hours, try to have your baths or showers during an off peak period, or a few minutes before. Your cylinder is probably about 100 litres which is a bathfull and will take about 2 hours to heat fully in summer, longer in winter as the incoming water is colder.

Turn the switch to the upper element off, and leave the switch to the lower one on, but turn it off if you go on holiday for more than a couple of days. You can turn the upper one on for half an hour, not longer, if the hot water runs out during the day, and it will give you a sinkful but not a bath. Keep it turned off at all other times.

Observe the meters. The daytime one should be unaffected by the lower element.

PigletJohn Mon 05-Jan-15 10:49:43

Looking at the cylinder pic, is that an extra cable I can see coming out of the lower immersion cap? Take another photo please.

specialsubject Tue 06-Jan-15 17:56:26

you can make storage heaters hold heat during the day and keep you warm in the evening. It needs correct adjustment, correct tariff and a bit of weather forecasting.

they aren't ideal but they can be made to work.

you MUST do as much heating as possible on the cheaper rate. Including the water.

Iqueen Tue 06-Jan-15 21:04:15

Fuel companies often raise the monthly payments for new tenants, because they have no idea what your actual use may be. Read you meters, monthly/weekly and keep a record of the readings, and keep the company informed of your usage, so they can make adjustments. Bear in mind that your monthly payments will be averaged over the year.

Turn the thermostat down on your immersion heater - water does not have to be scalding hot! I've set mine at 60 degrees. This is too hot for a bath and very hot for washing up.

I live in an all-electric, unheated house, with no d/glazing! I put my immersion heater on for half an hour each morning to cover washing-up through the day, and half an hour before a bath. I may put it on for an extra half-hour occasionally, if I've hand-washed some woollens, or done a lot of wet cleaning.

Always use a kettle for making drinks, to prevent illness, and only boil sufficient water (from the cold tap) for the number of drinks needed.

If you have an instant electric shower, you do not need to heat the whole hot water tank for normal use. Turn off the bottom immersion - hot water rises and will heat the whole tank! Just use the top heater, unless you're taking a bath.

PigletJohn Tue 06-Jan-15 23:26:28

if you have cheap off-peak electricity, it is cheaper to use the lower immersion heater. An electric shower will use peak-rate costly electricity.

bigoldbird Sat 10-Jan-15 07:25:54

Hello. Your wiring looks a bit ancient to me, but no matter. You can shop around for various different rates for electric heating, depending on what hours you will be at home etc. We are currently with SSE on the Superdeal Tarriff. This heats for 5 hours overnight, then again for 2 hours in the afternoon. We are all at work all day and this works for us. The storage heaters stay warm all evening and if we don't have loads of people in the house, the hot water lasts as well. With your hot water tank, use just the lower of the immersion heaters. This one will be wired to come on and off only during the off peak rates. The upper one is just for top ups if you run out of water. If you have an electric shower (not a power shower) that will heat the water as you run it, not use water from the tank. In this case, you may prefer not to use the tank at all.

I would recommend ringing your supplier. SSE are always really really helpful when I speak to them, and advise me well as to what is the cheapest rate and how I can keep my bills low.

After 28 years with electric heating I love it. I would not go back to gas unless I had to, although I agree it is probably a bit pricier.

bigoldbird Sat 10-Jan-15 07:29:15

Oh, just had a thought. How well is your place insulated? It really is important with electric heating. Are you renting? Not sure what the situation is really, but you could investigate whether there would be help available to insulate it better, there may well be rules on rented properties meeting certain standards, I don't know. Other than that, good curtains, blankets over your knees and cuddle a hot water bottle. DH is very hot blooded and I have to do that to keep warm sometimes without him dying of heat exhaustion!

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