5 ways that far infrared heating can cut your electricity bill.
In this article we break down 5 ways that far infrared heating (FIR) can help contribute to lower electricity bills.
If you’ve been doing research and browsing the internet to find out more about infrared heating, you may find that one of the big selling points is the low wattage. But why are infrared heaters such low wattage? Do they really work if they run at a fraction of the power as a storage heater?
Most electric heaters are convection based. This means that they work using fans to take in the cold air. They then warm it up and release it back out into the room. To be able to do this you need to use electricity on fans, buttons, lights, and other moving parts. Because of this, some convection heaters can be as little as 38% efficient. A quote from Which? States ‘’All new electric storage heaters must meet a minimum energy efficiency rating of 38% for a heat output above 250W.’’
Far infrared has no moving parts, no lights, no fans and produce no noise at all. In fact, 99% of the electricity that you use to run an infrared heater goes on heating meaning the wattage is less. This is because you get much more heat pay off for the amount of electricity you use.
Unlike almost all other heating system FIR requires no maintenance whatsoever. Gas systems are required to be serviced once every 12 months due to the dangers of possible carbon monoxide leaks. For landlords this is a legal requirement.
Heat pumps also require yearly checks to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible. The difference in efficiency from a proper maintained heat pump to a neglected one can range from 10% -25%.
Although storage heaters don’t require regular maintenance, the dust build up on the inside can cause problems. The build-up of dust also happens very quickly as they are taking in air and distributing it back out. When they take in that air, they take in all the dust alongside it. This means that cleaning needs to be done on a regular basis. They aren’t the easiest things to clean either! Getting inside the heater can be very difficult if you don’t know how.
With the use of a controller, the panels will be switching on/off constantly to maintain the temperature of the room. This can reduce the running costs by a considerable amount.
In early 2020, we put this to the test to really see how quick the heaters got the room up to temperature and how well the room retained heat. One of our surveyors visited a property that had platinum panels installed throughout along with our Onyx controllers.
When arriving at the property, the surveyor turned the heaters in the living room on using the controller and set the temperature to be 22°C. After around 12 minutes, the heaters got the room to the desired temperature. Once this temperature was reached the heaters turned off and would stay off until the room got below 20°C. This took 40 minutes for the heaters to turn back on again! As the second time turning on was only top up heat, it then only took the heaters 6 minutes to get the room back up to 22°C. That means that during the whole hour in ‘heating mode’ the heaters were only actually running for 18 minutes.
So although we say that on paper a 900w panel will cost on average 13p to run, realistically this can be as low as 4p with the use of a controller!
Heat Up Times
As mentioned above, the heat up times for infrared heaters can be very minimal. Far infrared works by heating the fabric of the room such as the walls, floor, ceiling and the furniture in the room. After a week or so of usage, the infrared gets absorbed by these materials and dries out the moisture – think of hanging your washing out on a sunny day! Once the rooms moisture is removed and the infrared is firmly absorbed into the fabric of the room, the heaters are more used for a top up of heat on top of the warmth already in the room. With convection heaters, as soon as the heaters are turned off the heat is lost almost instantly. So each time you are heating the room up from scratch which can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
As shown in the example above, this can be as little as 6 minutes with infrared heating!
If we take a gas system as an example, for an average house a gas boiler will usually be around 24KW. For infrared we would usually be looking at around 10KW as a worst-case scenario for the same size property.
Now if you work out overall running costs for both the systems as a whole, due to low gas prices, it does work out cheaper.
However, with a gas system, you will need to be running that 24KW system no matter what rooms you are heating. You could have all your radiators in your house turned off except one and you’ll still be drawing 24KW for it.
Infrared is a different system altogether because you only need to run the panels that you want. You haven’t got a central unit that needs to be on for the whole system to work.
For example, for heating in a lounge we would look towards around 1.5KW. As a worst-case scenario to run this for a full hour would cost around 21p. If you were to use the gas system for just this room it would be costing around 96p to run. It is very rare to have every single heater on in the property at once. The more you micromanage this, the more you will benefit from it.
The right heater for you
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