Storage heaters are domestic heaters that store thermal energy during the evening when the cost of electricity is lower, so the heater can be used during the day or as required when the cost would be higher. It depends on the fact that there are two prices for electricity and that the user is subscribed to the correct tariff in order to save money. In Great Britain the tariff known as ‘Economy 7’ would be suitable in order to save money.
The construction of these heaters are usually made of clay bricks or other ceramic materials, concrete walls or containers full of water. While in the United States and the UK they are known as ‘storage heaters’ in Australasia they are commonly known as heat banks. It is usual that storage heaters have two main controls. There is what is known as a charge control (frequently referred to as the ‘input’) which controls the amount of heat being stored. The draught control – which is normally referred to as the ‘output’ – controls the rate at which heat is released into a given room or property.
While these controls can be used manually by the owner, they may also be set up to run automatically once the storage heater owner has selected the target room temperature by using the thermostat. Some storage heaters also come with an electric heater which can be used to increase output of heat by using resistance heater or indeed heat pumps. However, in many people’s eyes this defeats the purpose of storage heaters because it usage would occur during the day – which would mean the high tariff being in operation, therefore being expensive.
Electrical heating is generally more expensive than gas or oil heating, but these heaters mean that electrical heating can be economical. It is also generally accepted that heaters take up less space than other heating systems. Sometime natural gas is not available to a property, and so storage heaters are a viable alternative.
Working out the size of a storage heater involves a compromise between what is thought to be the maximum expected low temperature duration and intensity, and the overall cost and space need of the heating system. If the heater is too large, its cost will be too high and it will have an impact on the building’s available space; and if too small, the price of what is known as supplemental (during the day) electric heating will simply be too much. If for some reason the owner is out for a day, the stored up heat will still be lost – an unavoidable loss.
Overall, the suitability of heaters depends upon various factors as described – but it is definitely possible that it could save you money if used correctly.