DON’T be fooled by certain “energy saving” gadgets that could end up costing you more this winter.
The advice comes after science journalist Greg Foot teamed up with Octopus Energy to find out the most efficient space heaters.
In his latest Radio 4 Sliced Bread podcast Greg assessed just how economical small plug-in ceramic heaters are compared to other heating gadgets.
These plug-in heaters have been snapped up by shoppers in recent weeks.
They’re compact and fan-assisted with a ceramic element which allows heat to be evenly dispersed.
Customers can set these devices to temperatures anywhere between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius.
With some manufacturers claiming that they’ll heat up any room using 30% less energy than other space heaters – many people are drawn to this clever marketing trap.
And it’s no wonder people are rushing to buy these compact heating gadgets when you look at how much they cost.
Ryman, for example, is currently selling the little gadget for £10 and Argos shoppers can pick one up for £25.
But while they consumer less energy with every minute used, you would need to have them on for a longer period of time to heat a room.
Greg Foot, with the help of Phil Steel an energy expert at Octopus Energy, compared the cost of raising the temperature of a room with different space heaters including the plug-in ceramic heaters.
But surprisingly all devices cost the same in the end.
Greg said: “If you want to heat up the whole room, each and every one of these devices is going to cost pretty much the same amount to do it.”
The only difference between the devices was the speed at which they took to heat up the room.
And Phil Steele said that these plug-in ceramic heaters are no better or cheaper than other space heaters.
But Joanna O’Loan, knowledge manager at Energy Saving Trust did explain when these space heaters may be cost-effective.
She said: “If it was only for an hour or so and you had a particularly large room that only needed heating in a small corner where your desk is, the plug-in heater might be the cheaper option.”
However, flicking your central heating on remains the cheapest option overall.
Joanna said: “In most cases, the cheapest way to heat the room is using your gas boiler, controlled with your thermostatic radiator valves.
This is because gas is around three times cheaper than electricity per unit.”
We’ve still listed the best space heaters available to keep you snug this winter if you’re happy paying more.
And we’ve also tested the best electric heaters so you don’t have to.
How much do space heaters cost to run?
Citizens Advice has a handy tool to give you a rough idea of how much each appliance in your home costs to run.
Its guide claims that a typical electric fan heater would cost around 85p per hour, but the price can vary a lot for different models.
If you want to be more accurate, check the wattage of your heater on its label or in the manual.
Because of the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, currently, most of us will be paying 34p for every kilowatt hour of electricity that we use until April.
So, a 1,000W appliance would cost you 34p to run for an hour and a 2,000W appliance would set you back 68p an hour.
So if you were to run a 2,000W appliance for five hours it’d end up costing £3.40.
To calculate the current hourly running cost in pence for any appliance, take the wattage, divide it by 1,000 and multiply that figure by 34.
How much does central heating cost to run?
Energy regulator Ofgem estimates that a medium-sized home using a typical amount of gas would use around 12,000 kWh in a year – costing around £1,200 per year.
This means that the average household could expect to spend £3.57 on their gas per day, according to figures by Which?.
So if you were to run your heating by 5 hours, it would cost a typical household 15p – a whole £3.25 cheaper than using a 2,000 space heater for the same amount of time.
And you can cut your heating costs even more by turning any radiators off in rooms that you don’t use.
It’s estimated that households could save up to £70 a year by turning off radiators in empty rooms.
But don’t forget this is only an estimate and the amount of gas you use will depend on the size of your home and how often you use your heating and hot water.
This includes blocking and draughts and insulating your loft as well as keeping the lights off and doing your laundry efficiently.