British Summer Time came to an end last week (and we hope you already set your clocks one hour backwards last Sunday night!), which can mean just one thing: it's time to switch on the heating.
Normally, this just involves setting a timer on the boiler, but many smaller dwellings are heated by storage heaters.
What is a Storage Heater? How Does it Work?These slim white appliances use electricity during the off-peak hours (usually during the night) to transfer heat to high-density material which gradually releases that heat later on - a process known as "charging" the heater.
They are remarkable energy saving devices, so long as the electricity tariff offers different on- and off-peak prices.
In the UK this is the Economy 7 tariff. Although they look unassuming, a storage heater can be quite daunting to use when they are first encountered, particularly if it was 'inherited' in a rented property or student accommodation.
How to Use a Storage HeaterThere are two manual controls on a storage heater, usually dials: input (or charge), and output (or room temperature control).
The input sets how much electricity the heater uses in the off-peak periods. This controls how much heat is stored by the appliance.
The more electricity that goes in, the more heat that is available for use later. During the winter, it is advisable to set the input to its maximum level.
The output control regulates how much of the stored heat is released during the on-peak hours.
This can be set to different temperatures, and finding the "sweet spot" can be a matter of trial-and-error.
Automatic storage heaters (such as the Dimplex XLE050) are even easier to use - many of them automatically compensate for environmental weather conditions.
The appliance will always release a little heat as wasted energy during the charge periods. While this is inefficient, the heat loss is not too great and it can even be useful to protect the room against frost.
If you own a storage heater and it is not already switched on, we would like to advise you to turn on the wall switch at least 24 hours before first use.
If you do not own a storage heater, Sparks Electrical offer a great many models in-store and online (for in-store pickup).