How much does it cost to run an indoor heater at home?

If you’re wondering how much does it cost to run an indoor heater at home, we’ve done the calculations…

11 Fin 2500W oil filled radiator in Black from VonHaus
(Image credit: VonHaus)

How much does it cost to run an indoor heater and is it a cost-effective way to stay warm? These are important questions to ask right now as we head into the cooler months and energy prices remain much higher than this time last year.

Despite the energy price cap being replaced by an energy bill freeze (opens in new tab), called the Energy Price Guarantee, energy bills are still at record highs. Even with the £400 energy rebate (opens in new tab) payments being paid in monthly instalments from October 2022 to March 2023, struggling families are continuing to learn how to save energy at home (opens in new tab) to keep costs down. As a result, you might be thinking about using an indoor heater instead of whacking up the thermostat.

Goodto.com's Money Editor Sarah Handley (opens in new tab) says: "Millions of families will be worried about the cost of staying warm this winter so it helps to understand exactly how much different heating options cost to run so you can make sure you opt for the cheapest yet most effective option."

How much does it cost to run an indoor heater?

It costs around 68p an hour to run a typical 2kW indoor heater. If you used your heater for four hours a day, that would cost you £2.72 per day, or £81.60 per month. Assuming you ran your heater daily for four months of the year, your overall annual cost would be £326.40. 

However, exact running costs will depend on the type of heater you’re using, how frequently you use it, and how much you pay for your energy. The price you pay per kWh of electricity changed on 1 October when the Energy Price Guarantee came into effect. This means households now pay 34p per kWh for electricity they use. Before October, households paid 28p for each kWh of electricity used. 

Types of indoor heater

There are four main types of indoor heater that use electricity:

  • Halogen heaters - lightweight and portable, these use halogen elements rather than electrical coils to provide heat. Heat outputs typically range from 0.5kW to 2kW
  • Fan heaters - easily portable, these work by running a current through a heating coil. Air is drawn over the heated coil and the warm air is blown out into the room. Heat outputs typically range from 0.5kW to 3kW
  • Oil filled radiators - these work by using an electrical element to heat a reservoir of thermal oil inside. Heat outputs can be between 1kW and 3kW
  • Convector heaters - these use a heating coil that produces hot air and the air is then distributed into the room. Heat outputs can be between 2kW and 3kW. 

For comparison, we’ve looked at the four different heater types and used different power outputs for each to give you an idea of different running costs. In each example, we’ve assumed the heater will be used for four hours a day for four months of the year.  

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Cost per hourCost per dayCost per monthCost per year
1.2kW halogen heater41p£1.64£49.20£196.80
1.5kW fan heater51p£2.04£61.20£244.80
2.5kW oil filled radiator85p£3.40£102£408
3kW convector heater£1.02£4.08£122.40£489.60

How much do your other appliances cost to run?

Household appliance running costs Oct 2022

(Image credit: Future)

 Which type of indoor heater is cheapest to run? 

The type of indoor heater that’s cheapest to run will ultimately depend on how powerful it is and how often you use it. All wattages and run time being even, halogen, fan, oil filled, and convector heaters will cost the same to run.

However, Ryan Collier (opens in new tab), director of Heat Pump Source, adds: “Generally, halogen heaters can be the cheapest to run due to their lower power output and the fact they can be used intermittently for blasts of heat. 

“For longer periods, oil filled radiators are considered one of the most energy efficient types of heaters. Once they're at the desired temperature, they use low power to maintain the warmth. Compared to other heaters, they also retain heat better, so they will still radiate heat for a while after you've switched them off.”

 How can I cut the cost of running an indoor heater? 

Below are some tips to help you cut the cost of running your indoor heater: 

Use your heater wisely

Carefully consider where in the home you want to use your indoor heater. If it’s an open-plan room or one with high ceilings, it’ll cost you a lot more to heat the room to the desired temperature.

Jennifer Warren, spokesperson for Energy Guide UK (opens in new tab), explains: “Electric heating should only be used for limited periods of time and to heat a small space, for example, a single room and for an hour or two.”

Make sure you keep windows and door closed while the heater is in use to keep the warmth you are creating in, rather than letting it escape into other rooms or out the window. 

Find out more about the cheapest way to heat a room (opens in new tab)

Set a timer or use a thermostat

Using an indoor heater that comes with a timer or thermostat can also help reduce costs. This will enable you to regulate the power output and how long the heater is switched on for, saving you money. 

If you have a heater without a timer, you can add a smart plug to enable you to decide when the heater needs to be on and off. 

Get insulated

A quarter of heat is lost through the roof of an uninsulated home, and a third is lost through the walls, according to the Energy Saving Trust (opens in new tab). To stop hot air escaping and reduce the length of time you need your heater to be on, block draughts around doors and windows and hang thicker curtains. 

It could also be worth investing in better loft insulation as well as cavity wall insulation if you don't already have it. 

What features should you look for when buying an indoor heater?  

Different types of heaters are better for different purposes, so you'll need to consider what best matches your needs. 

Heating expert Ryan Collier advises: “If you want instant heat, go for a halogen heater. Convector heaters are good for heating up small to medium rooms evenly. Oil-filled radiators give long-lasting heat, and fan heaters can warm up a room quickly.”

Once you know which type of heater you would like, you need to consider the wattage. “The wattage tells you how much power the heater uses and is a good indicator of how powerful the heater will be. You will want to choose a heater with a wattage that suits the room's size. As a general rule of thumb, you want 60-70 watts per square metre,” says Ryan Collier. 

Another great feature to have is a variable heat option. “This is so you can change the amount of heating depending on whether it is a warmer or colder day,” explains Paul Gibbens (opens in new tab), marketing manager at housebuyers4u. This will prevent you from generating more heat than you need, and therefore save you money.

Finally, remember it’s best to buy a heater with a built-in thermostat and/or timer that can be controlled automatically. Energy Guide’s Jennifer Warren told us: “This will ensure you limit its use to just a few hours and don't forget about it and risk leaving it on all day, which can soon add up. In addition, safety mechanisms such as automatic cut-off features are useful as these will automatically turn the heater off if it falls over.” 

You might also be interested in our article on how many hours a day should heating be on in the UK (opens in new tab).

Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to lovemoney.com (opens in new tab). She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket where she helped support the CRM programme, as well as the SEO and PR teams, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping consumers become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.
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