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What is a Storage Heater?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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A storage heater is an electric home heating device which can reduce utility expenses by storing the heat it produces and then releasing it as needed. It is most suitable in areas which have tiered electricity pricing schemes. In order to fully realize the money-saving capabilities of a storage heater, the device must be set properly, which may require a period of trial and error. Proper preparation of the building in which the heater will be installed can also help to maximize its effectiveness.

Generally, a storage heater consists of a rectangular metal casing enclosing electrical heating elements, bricks made from ceramic or clay, and insulation. It is usually mounted on a wall, and can vary significantly in height and width depending on the size of the area it is intended to heat. The top of the heater’s casing is typically inlaid with two dials, one which controls the device’s input and one which controls its output. When the input dial is switched on, the device’s electrical elements generate heat, which is stored within its bricks until it is needed. Turning the output dial instructs the device to begin releasing this stored heat.

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Storage heaters are most suited to areas which have tiered electricity pricing schemes, meaning that electricity is cheaper at certain times of day than others. The principle behind a storage heater is that it can be used to produce and store heat during off-peak hours when electricity is cheaper, usually at night. Rather than turning on the heater during peak hours when electricity is more expensive, the heat which has already been trapped within the device’s bricks is released at these times. Tiered electricity pricing schemes are common in many countries throughout the world, and are gaining popularity in the US as of the early 21st century.

In order to fully realize the money-saving capabilities of a storage heater, the device’s dials must be set properly. For instance, the output dial generally should be turned off at night, and should not be turned on again until stored heat is needed. If the output dial is not turned off, all stored heat will usually be released by the afternoon. Those returning home in the evening after work or school will therefore be unable to keep warm with previously stored heat. Figuring out which settings best suit one’s needs may require a process of trial and error.

Proper preparation of the building in which the storage heater will be used can also help maximize its effectiveness. The building’s walls, windows, and attic space should be properly insulated. Draft-blocking doorstops may help reduce heat loss from beneath exterior doors.

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