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Are storage heaters environmentally friendly and energy efficient?

environmentally friendly heating

How environmentally friendly a storage heater is depends on how your consumed electricity is generated. Electricity from most energy suppliers is currently generated by burning fossil fuels in the UK today so storage heaters are not strictly friendly for the environment. Yet!

The storage heater product itself has unfortunately been given a "poor" rating for 'Environmental Performance' and 'energy efficiency' on the household 'Energy Performance Certificate' for this main reason. Old storage heaters with manual controls are the worst performing since there is more margins for error in excessively consuming electricity unnecessarily. Automatic and fan assisted models gain more points in efficiency on a certificate than manual storage heaters after taking this into account. Ground source heat pumps in contrast have a good rating.

Originally Britain got most of its electricity from coal-fired power stations which is a very inefficient source of energy since you cannot switch them off, and even while they operate at 50% capacity they produce 75% greenhouse gases compared to 100% capacity. The furnaces must be on all the time with up to two-thirds of energy being lost at the power station. Burning fossil fuels is generally very inefficient. Electricity is more expensive than gas mainly for this reason.

Why could electricity be the green future?

Mains gas uses less Co2 carbon emissions than electricity generated from non-renewable sources and is cheaper to use, however the decline of indigenous reserves of North Sea gas prompts a mix of alternative energy sources.

Electricity supplier EDF energy is committed to building new nuclear power stations in UK... Nuclear being a 'low-carbon' and affordable energy source. This scheme is also part of plans to solve the wider issue of an energy deficit creeping in potentially causing a shortfall of electricity supply this decade.

A successful scheme in Scotland on the Shetland island of Unst is also using wind power to supply storage heaters, the remaining energy is producing hydrogen from water - a renewable energy.

In future the ability of a storage heater to use electricity and store heat at times when wind generated electricity might not otherwise get used could enable storage heaters a positive new role for the environment.

Storage heaters could also be environmentally friendly if the heat is stored directly without using electricity e.g. from a solar conductor.

Storing electricity as heat, then dispensing it, is not especially good for the environment due to:

Heat being lost from the storage heater even when it is not needed.

Extra electricity may be needed to top up room temperature if the storage heater part has run out of stored heat.