Up until very recently, gas central heating reigned supreme in the UK. Other forms of heating were starting to find their way into the UK’s homes, and with energy costs starting to increase, is easy to understand why homeowners are looking for alternatives to warm their homes.
So, if you’re in a position where you are reconsidering your current heating situation, Rio Heating, specialists in eco smart heating share their insight into the benefits of electric radiators and how it might just benefit you during this current time.
Gas heating versus other heating
Before looking specifically at smart electric radiators, it is worth taking a quick look at the different heating systems available on the UK market and how they compare.
Boiler systems and heat pumps
Boiler systems and heat pumps both work along the same lines. They heat water, the water circulates around the home through a piping system. This piping system is connected to radiators and/or underfloor heating. It is also likely to be connected to the household water system and hence will provide hot water for washing.
Both boiler systems and heat pumps require fuel to heat the water. In the case of boiler systems, that fuel is usually gas. In the case of heat pumps, the pump extracts the heat in the air (Air Source Heat Pumps) or the earth (Ground Source Heat Pumps).
Likewise, both boiler systems and heat pumps do need electricity. In the case of gas boilers, this is just for a few key functions. In the case of heat pumps, the amount of electricity they need depends on the amount of work they need to do. It, therefore, increases in colder weather and decreases in warmer weather.
The key point to note, however, is that neither gas central heating nor heat pumps will work if there is a full power cut. You would therefore still need a backup source of power and/or heating such as a generator and/or bottled-gas heater.
Electric heating can be grouped into three main types of systems. These are underfloor heating systems, electric radiators, and infrared heating. All three systems are still relatively niche compared to gas central heating. Electric radiators are, however, clearly the most popular and fastest-growing option.
The growth in demand for electric radiators appears to be based on two main factors. Firstly, the government is pushing hard for people to move away from gas. This is mainly because of concern over climate change. It does, however, also reflect that the supply of gas is both finite and vulnerable to supply-chain shocks.
Electricity, by contrast, can be generated from clean and renewable sources. This makes it a far more attractive option in terms of sustainability. Of the electric heating options currently available, electric radiators are by far the most cost-effective. They are easy to install and maintain (unlike underfloor heating) and much more affordable than infrared heating panels.
Electric radiators also offer the highest levels of flexibility. Firstly, they can be either hardwired or plug-in. Plug-in radiators will typically shut out automatically if they are tipped over. This means they can be safely left unattended. Secondly, they can be “smart.” Smart electric radiators can really help to reduce your power usage and hence your heating bills.
The basics of smart electric radiators
Smart electric radiators are simply electric radiators with relevant sensors, a certain level of processing power and an online connection. Typically, the online connection will be via the building’s WiFi. This online connection enables smart radiators both to send data to other systems and to receive instructions from them.
How smart electric radiators can benefit you
The headline benefit of smart electric radiators is that they vastly increase the efficiency of your heating without sacrificing convenience. In fact, they are a lot more convenient than traditional radiators. That means lower heating bills and a lower carbon footprint. Here is some more specific information about what that means in practice.
Central heating was certainly a vast improvement on coal fires. It does, however, still have a number of limitations that smart electric radiators address. All of these limitations hinge on the fact that central heating applies the same heating rules to every room in the house.
You can usually adjust these rules via manual controls on each radiator. This is, however, only possible if you are actually in the house. What is more, it is inconvenient even in smaller spaces. As the size of a building increases, so does the number of radiators you need to adjust.
With smart radiators, you can set rules to apply to as many or as few radiators as you want. Additionally, you can still control smart radiators individually. With smart radiators, however, you can do so without having to get up and turn knobs. Some smart radiators can be voice-controlled via smart home assistants (e.g., Alexa). Most can be controlled through apps.
This means that you can control your heating from wherever you are. You do not even need access to WiFi, mobile data is fine. So, you can be comfortable on the couch, at work or on the other side of the world. You will still be in full control of your heating. What is more, apps are designed to be simple and intuitive. No IT skills are required.
Smart electric radiators can learn on the job
With smart electric radiators, you can set down basic rules for how you would like your space to be heated. You can then leave the radiators to work out how to make it happen. For example, functions such as geolocation and motion detection can allow smart radiators to adjust heating based on where you are.
With smart electric radiators, you can program your heating to the minute and the degree. In fact, you can sometimes program in half-degree increments. You can also get reports on your energy usage. This can help you to identify areas in your home where your energy usage could be improved.
These changes may seem minor. In fact, they usually are. You probably won’t even notice them in real terms. Minor changes, however, can add up to big differences both for the planet and for your heating bills.
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