Written by Terry Smith
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UK’s best electric heaters that are energy efficient and cheap to run
This article was last updated on December 4th, 2021 at 5:02 am
The best electric heater is an absolute cracker of a question to answer. I could be here all day 😀 I spent a whole day just writing about the best garage heaters the other day. With the temperatures dropping it seemed like a good idea to help people so I then updated the spacer heaters for a large room or bedroom. I didn’t stop there – I got on a bit of a roll updating all heaters. Noting the ones that include electric picks, I updated wall mounted heaters, patio heaters, patio hanging heaters, parasol heaters (yes they exist and are really useful), table top heaters, and greenhouse heaters. What I quickly realised was the best electric heater pick will almost certainly come from the infrared heater category – so long as the light they emit isn’t a problem – but wait, what if they now make infrared panel heaters that look like radiators:
Then you need to consider – is it the type of heater you can run whilst asleep or not present versus something like a blow heater that absolutely can’t be left unattended. Rather than mumble on about the rooms and types of electric heater let’s try to understand what you’re looking for and categorise it a bit:
Best electric heaters – editor picks:
Best electric heater overall: Andily convection heater ideal for medium to large rooms must have for a cosy room and probably the best alternative to actual central heating.
Budget: Warmlite WL44001 Thermo Fan Heater
Best infra-red heater for outdoors with excellent waterproofing: Futura Deluxe wall heater ideal for outdoors
Best infra-red heater for indoors and smaller spaces: Vieto CH1800RE infra-red heater best heater for small rooms and spaces
Best fan heater and space heater for warming up rooms quickly: GiveBest fan heater or the Warmlite WL44001 Thermo Fan Heater
Best convection heater and runs almost silently: Andily convection heater
Best economy heater and will save you money in the long run: Ansio oil filled radiator– best economy heater and will save you money in the long run.
One of the main factors that I take into consideration when buying an electric heater for my garage, conservatory, greenhouse, etc. is how much they cost to run. So, I thought I’d put this article together, so that you can be in the know when it comes to the best electric heaters for energy efficiency, and save yourself a few quid while keeping yourself warm this winter the prices of energy are madness.
Selecting the right electric heater for you might not be as simple as you think, as there are more than just a few variations to choose from, such as convection heaters, fan heaters, space heaters, infra-red heaters, and more. All of them will provide heat, but not necessarily in the same way.
On top of that, there are different sizes and power outputs so you should try to think carefully about what you need your electric heater for, before spending your money and some are pretty wasteful – namely the blow fan heaters but cost so little it’s tempting. There’s no need to fret though, as we are here to help, and in the following paragraphs we’ll point out things you might want to consider in order to pick the best electric heater that won’t leave you bankrupt when the bills come through the letterbox.
What you should know about each type of electric heater before buying
Here we’ll examine the options available to you, highlighting the benefits and flaws of each, so that you’ll have a better idea about which type of electric heater would suit your needs the best. This is quite the read indeed but worth the time as you’ll end up finding the most economical solution for you.
Infra-red heaters are great for providing a concentrated supply of warmth and light to a small area, both indoors and out, and this is why this technology is often used for things like hanging patio heaters or wall mounted heaters like the Futura Deluxe wall heater
These products heat up very quickly, yet the safety record of halogen heaters, generally speaking, is very good and there is very little risk of them overheating. However, they are not the type of heater to choose if you want to heat a large area.
Other names for infra-red heaters are halogen heaters, tungsten heaters, and quartz heaters. There are sometimes slight differences, but they are essentially all infra-red heaters due to that’s what type of radiation they give off.
Well, I won’t be handing out prizes for guessing where fan heaters get their name. The fan built into these heaters blows the heat, that is generated by a metal filament, out into the room or space around it.
Even small fan heaters are good at warming up larger spaces, but only when used indoors – the GiveBest fan heater or the Warmlite WL44001 Thermo Fan Heater are great options for these. They can raise the temperature of a small room, such as a conservatory, by a noticeable degree in a short amount of time, however, they use quite a bit of electricity for their size, and the fans can be very noisy on some models.
These are basically identical to fan heaters, and are sometimes advertised as fan heaters, but the difference lies in the heating element. Instead of a metal filament, these heaters use ceramic which retains heat better, but apart from that, there is no real difference and they have the same pros and cons.
Also known as convection heaters, these products work differently to fan heaters in that they draw in cooler air and then expel warm air. Because this is done without the help of a fan, these heaters operate almost silently – you definitely want to look at the Andily convection heater – this is a super unit.
The downsides are that they work more slowly than some other types of heaters, although they are getting better all the time, and that they aren’t as good as fan heaters for spreading warmth in a wide area.
Oil filled electric radiators
Although the name might mislead you into believing that these heaters work like oil lamps or similar, they actually don’t burn oil to produce heat at all. Instead, an oil filled electric radiator acts just like a convector heating, only that the warmth hangs around for longer.
Oil filled radiators are very energy efficient, don’t make any noise, and are very safe even with pets and kids around. The flip side is that they don’t heat up that quickly, the initial layout cost is usually higher than other electric heaters, and they are only really suited to small to medium sized rooms but they are the cheapest to run and the Ansio oil filled radiator is the cream of the crop on economy and quality.
Which type of electric heater is the most energy efficient?
Although there are factors that can affect how energy efficient a certain type of electric heater can be, such as being set up indoors or outdoors, the power rating, and even just the quality of a particular model; we can still say some kinds of heaters are better in this category than others.
With all things considered, probably the least energy efficient heaters are ones with fans. Yes, they heat up rooms quickly, but they also use a lot of electricity to do so. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing in a well-insulated room that traps the heat in, but if used in the garden or a place with draughts like a garage or shed, that heat will be lost and you’ll have to turn on the heater again.
Convector heaters rank higher than fan models for efficiency, but as we already mentioned, there is a trade off when it comes to how quickly they can warm up a given space, and how far that heat can spread. For the right situation and location though, they can be a good buy.
Infra-red heaters, particularly halogen heaters, are relatively inexpensive to buy and can be very energy efficient too. Because they are not affected by draughts, and the heat is directly transferred onto the people sitting in front of them, there is very little energy wasted. The downside to them is that you have to keep them switched on all the time as they don’t heat the air around you, and you often don’t have that much control over the heat settings unless you want to buy more expensive models.
The best electric heaters for energy efficiency, and therefore the cheapest to run, are oil filled radiators where 99% of the electricity used is converted into heat and absorbed by the diathermic oil inside the radiator, which then retains that heat for a long time. Sounds great, right? Well unfortunately, you have to wait a long time for oil filled radiators to heat up, and the initial cost is usually higher than other heater types.
How much do electric heaters cost?
A lot will depend on what kind of heater, the brand name attached to it, and what features the heater has. Having said that, unless you’re either going for the absolute budget models or the super high-end ones, you can expect to pay somewhere in the region of 60 to 200 pounds, with the really decent ones that have good functions that actually work and are built to last, costing between 100-200 quid.
How many watts do I need to heat my room or space?
Unless you’re only planning on heating a broom cupboard, you’ll need to head northwards of 1000 watts, otherwise described as 1 kilowatt or 1kw. You’ll find that most electric heaters will be in the 1.5kw – 3kw range, with the heaters on the lower end of that scale being good for small to medium rooms and confined outdoor areas, and 2.5kw – 3kw more suited to bigger spaces.
Actually, getting the right kind of heater is probably more important than the power output, as it won’t matter if you have a 3kw fan heater, if used for an open outdoor space, as the heat will just dissipate anyway. So, go back and reread the section above about the different types of electric heater and their pros and cons if you’re still unsure.
Here’s a short video that talks about the difference between ceramic fan heaters and infra-red heaters and what they are best suited to-
Other things to consider when buying an electric heater
As most heaters of the same type will be in the same power output range, you might be wondering what else to look for in order to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Well, general build quality is always important as you don’t want loose components and poor materials, and if you’re going for energy efficiency and cost saving, things like an accurate thermostat, variable power settings, and a timer are all good features.
For outdoor electric heaters like free-standing patio heaters or wall mounted heaters, a high IP rating for resilience to water and dust is very important, and other safety features like auto-switch off for overheating or the heater being knocked over.
You might want to pay extra for a model with a remote control, or even splash out for one with a dedicated app and wi-fi, so that you don’t have to keep getting out of your seat every time you want to adjust the settings. For small, portable, heaters these might not be needed, but for large wall-mounted ones they could come in very handy.
Now that you’ve had a crash course in all things electric heater related, it’s time to see what products earned the right to be on our best energy efficient electric heaters list. We haven’t been shy about pouring out praise, but we also don’t let any annoying flaws slip either, so you know you’re getting a balanced view, and there won’t be any surprises for you when you buy.
1. Warmlite WL44001 Thermo Fan Heater with 2 Heat Settings and Overheat Protection, 2000W, White
This little fan type heater down’t need much of an introduction or explanation for that matter – at some point we have used or owned one. However, it’s unlikely it was as good as the Warmlite WL44001 Thermo Fan Heater is now.
Yes, it’s still got the two boring settings, the heat is pretty much instant but dissipates quickly too – however this does seem to do much better than the older style ones. It’s reasonably safe – even if you touch it you only get a small sharp heat pain (that’s not advice by the way – never touch the casing of a heater – it will hurt 🙂 ).
The big deal is though, when it starts to overheat it cuts out. This is a must to save serious problems – fires are real from these things, I’ve caught one of my older ones smouldering before – never never leave these alone for more than a blink of an eye, and never fall asleep with it on either.
It’s a light weight unit that weighs a little over a bag of sugar, it kicks out a huge amount of heat and on a budget is pretty much untouchable – hence being my budget pick for electric heaters. Remember though, budget isn’t economy – convection isn’t the best value for money with regards to heating, not by a long shot – you need a radiant type heater for better value like an infrared which is becoming ever more popular.
1. FUTURA Deluxe Wall Mounted Electric Infrared Outdoor Garden Patio, Bathroom Heater 2000W, Waterproof, Remote Control Included
It is outdoors where infra-red heaters come into their own, so if you’re in the market for something to keep you and the family cozy on the patio or decking, this powerful little wall heater is just the ticket and it’s not surprise this made it to the top picks for both patio heaters and best wall mounted heaters. And here it is again taking top spot for best outdoor electric heaters.
On full power, it will kick out 2kw of energy and that should cost you around 29p per hour to run. For heating an outdoor area, I’d say that’s very cost effective, but you can also choose to run this infra-red heater on one of the two lower power modes (750W & 1500W) if the weather isn’t too chilly and save even more money.
Changing between those power modes couldn’t be easier either. When you buy the Futura Deluxe infra-red heater, you get not one, but two remote controls to run the show with, and they work well as long as you get used to pointing them directly at the main unit.
One of the benefits if infra-red heaters is that they warm you up almost instantly, and you certainly feel that with this product. There’s no waiting around for the air to be heated, you just press the button, sit down, and then it’s toasty time for you and your guests.
These are really easy heaters to fit to the wall, and the brackets and screws are all included in the price, which was great. After that, it’s just a case of plugging the heater in, but here’s where some might run into a problem.
You see, the power cable is only 1.75 metres long, but the heater is supposed to be installed at least 6ft off the ground. So, unless you have a high wall socket around, you’re going to need a waterproof extension lead. A small, but silly oversight by the manufacturer it would seem but no, on further research this is the legal limit.
Speaking of waterproof, you don’t have to worry about weather damage with this infra-red heater. It has been tested and rated to IP65, which means that, as long as you’re not dropping it in a full bath tub, there’s no need to worry.
- Cost effective heating for the patio or decking
- Very well protected against rain and dust particles
- Instant heat as soon as you switch it on
- No energy wasted on heating the air around the heater and you
- Comes with two remote controls
- Power cable is a little short at 1.75m
3. Veito CH1800RE Free Standing Carbon Infrared Heater
Specification: Power settings: 900W/1200W/1500W/1800W, Effective range: up to 15-20 m², Length cable: 1.9m, Remote control: Yes,
Veito CH1800RE Free Standing Carbon Infrared Heater, Black/Silver
Unsurprisingly the Veito CH1800RE Free Standing Carbon Infrared Heater ended up top pick on the infrared heaters – and followed through to best electric heater for a small room
Although most often used out on the decking or patio, infra-red heaters can also be used in the conservatory, garage, shed, or even just in the living room as a booster for your central heating. But before we get into the review lets have a look at what this thing offers:
Without a doubt, one of the best indoor infra-red heaters is the Veito CH1800RE, sporting stylish looks while saving you money when compared to using a fan heater of the same power rating.
What I like most about the Veito CH1800RE, apart from not having to wait to feel warm after coming in from the cold, are all the features that give you an excellent level of control over the temperature.
For a start, there are four power settings- 900W, 1200W, 1500W, and 1800W; and you can quickly switch from one mode to another with a simple press of your thumb on the compact remote control. Even on the highest power setting, you won’t be left out of pocket as the heater is very economical and energy efficient.
Then there is the automatic temperature control feature that, again, can be set up and activated using the remote. Using this mode, you can set the heater to emit heat to a desired temperature and keep it there, and it works fantastically well.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is also a timer that you can use to switch off the heater should you get a bit too snug and fall asleep, a thing that is all too easy to do if the heater is close to you, believe me.
Other useful features are the ability to adjust the height of the heater, an automatic safety shut-off when the heater is knocked over, and overheat protection. All of these are practical, and work well, but there are one or two minor flaws you should be aware of.
Firstly, the large button on the heater itself only switches the device on and can be used to switch power modes. It can’t, however, be used to set the timer. So, if you misplace the remote, which is very probably as it is so compact, you’ll have to either hunt it down, or do without the timer mode.
The only other thing is that it is very lightweight, and while this makes it portable, which is great, it does make it easier to knock over, so you’ll have to keep the kids and pets away from it.
- Very good looking infra-red heater for indoors
- Three power modes to choose from
- Timer function comes in very handy
- Automatic temperature control keeps the heat how you want it
- Very energy efficient
- Can’t be used outdoors
3. Givebest Portable Electric Space Heater with Thermostat
When shopping for a fan heater, I look for a product that is compact and portable, has good temperature control, and is solidly built. This model from Give Best ticks all of those boxes, and it’s certainly no secret with tens of thousands of happy customers giving good feedback.
This is a ceramic fan heater, and so the internal element retains heat well. Not only that, but the heater gets up to temperature quickly, and as long as you’re in a closed off area, that heat is generously dispersed, keeping everyone nearby feeling snug.
Although there’s no numbered temperatures on the thermostat controls, there is a noticeable difference when you twist the dial through its 0 to 158-degree Fahrenheit range, and it won’t take long for you to figure things out.
I’ve had fan heaters in the past that sounded like Boeing 747’s taking off, but the fan on this product was surprisingly quiet. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly felt louder than the 45 decibels claimed by the company who makes the heater, but it wasn’t too bad at all.
The safety features are nothing out of the ordinary, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t welcome additions. For instance, there’s an anti-overheat switch off, and a tip over protection feature too. In the improbable event that the overheat protection should fail, the materials that the heater is made of are flame retardant. So, all in all, a very safe little machine.
The material we are talking about is ABS plastic, and the stuff on this particular heater is high-grade. What does that mean? Well, for you it means that the casing is stronger than the more common polypropylene plastic used by a lot of companies, and it won’t warp, dent, or break, very easily.
I did notice that there was a slight smell for the first day or two of using the heater. It wasn’t particularly strong or off putting, but it was noticeable. After day two, it had completely gone though, so it was probably some chemical or something left on from the manufacturing process.
- Ceramic heating elements keep warm for longer and save energy
- Thermostat can be set from 0 to 158-degree Fahrenheit
- Solidly built casing made from ABS plastic
- Tip-over and overheat shut-off functions
- Not as noisy as most fan heaters
- Fan still makes some noise so not good for light sleepers if used at night
3. andily Convection Heater
This convection heater from Andily is a cut above the lower-cost, generic, models that the market is flooded with, and offers you reliability, style, and a ton of great features.
One of the main reasons people choose a convection heater over a fan heater is the reduced noise, and believe me when I say that they don’t come much quieter than this. The Andily heater is absolutely silent, and you could have this thing right next to your bed and it wouldn’t disturb your sleep a single bit.
In fact, the only noises you ever hear is when you are changing the various settings using the small, but clearly marked remote control, and even then, it’s only a beep and light click. The remote itself works really well from anywhere in the room, and you don’t have to be a ‘crackshot’ or aiming directly at the heater from 6 inches away for it to work, like with some cheaper models.
On the side panel of the heater, you will find more controls just in case you misplace the remote, and these are also clearly marked with symbols so there’s no guesswork involved. Above these controls is a large LCD display that shows the temperature in degrees Celsius, as well as other information regarding your current settings.
The digital thermostat gives you a lot of control over the temperature of the room, and there is a frost protection mode, as well as three power setting to choose from-750W, 1250W, and a powerful 2000W mode for those very chilly days and nights. Despite the power produced, this is still an economic heater that won’t break the bank to run.
When summer rolls around and that house insulation becomes the enemy rather than an ally, you won’t have to lie there sweating as you can activate the fan mode on the heater to produce cooler air instead of providing warmth.
For safety, there are the usual things incorporated into the design, like auto cut-off for overheating and if the heater gets tipped or knocked over. On top of that, there’s a timer function that you can set to switch off the heater after a certain length of time, further reducing the risk of it getting too hot.
Honesty, there’s nothing I can say that I really didn’t like about this excellent convection heater. It might be a little higher up the price range than some of the budget models, but you get a much better product for your money.
- Runs silently and won’t disturb anyone
- Multiple power modes to choose from
- Fan mode will come in handy in summer
- Auto cut-out safety features
- Digitally displayed thermostat
- Not a good choice for outdoor heating
3. ANSIO® Oil Filled Radiator Heater 11 Fins 2300W with Remote
It’s hard not to talk about energy efficient electric heaters without adding oil-filled radiators to the conversation, and this model from Ansio is the best I’ve seen in its price range.
Using either the remote control or the buttons on the side panel of the heater, you can select from three different power modes. The lowest is 1000W, medium power gives you 1300W, and then there is a large jump right up to 2300W for high power mode. For people who really want to conserve energy and run the heater cheaply, there’s also the eco mode.
There are some really nice features on this Ansio product. Let’s take, for example, the memory feature that will remember the last settings you had the heater on and automatically set the heater to them when you switch it back on again.
Then there’s the thermostat and digital temperature display. The thermostat can be set from 5 degrees to 35 degrees Celsius, and will monitor the temperature if the air in the room. If the temperature is the same or lower than the heater, it will switch off and then switch on again once the air temperature drops lower.
Fancy walking into a preheated garage or workshop? Well, the timer function allows you to program the heater to switch on or off at a given time. There are limits to this though, and you can’t have it turning itself on and off multiple times during the day.
One thing that puts people off from buying oil-filled radiators is that they have traditionally been very slow to heat up. Not so with this model. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t get instant heat like you do with a halogen heater or warm a room as fast as a fan heater, but within 20 minutes or so, our medium-sized test room was feeling quite toasty.
Ansio’s radiator has both a tip-over cut off and an overheat protection feature, and on top of that, there’s a child lock so your toddlers’ inquisitive fingers won’t mess up your precious settings.
At 64cm tall and 52cm long, this isn’t exactly the most compact electric heater out there, but there’s a decent set of castor wheels on the bottom for moving it from room to room, if necessary. However, there’s no handle to carry it from, so you’ll need a good grip if you’re going to be moving it up and down the stairs every day.
- Extremely energy efficient heater
- Good safety features and child lock for controls
- Digital display and accurate thermostat
- Three power modes to choose from
- Timer works very well, as do all the other practical functions
- Although fairly quick to heat up, it isn’t a match for other types of electric heater
I can vividly remember my late teens when I used to visit a friend of mine who was studying at the local university, and thus lived in a shared student house. We’d often get soaked coming home from the pub and then fight to get closer to the tiny, ancient looking, electric heater that was meant to heat up the room, but in reality, gave out about as much heat as a polar bear’s backside – things are really different now as you can see from this in depth review.
Fast forward 10 years, and I was looking for something to take the edge off the chill in my shed while I did some DIY projects in there. Remembering how pathetic my friend’s electric heater had been, I was planning on buying a gas heater, but my neighbour heard that I was on the lookout, and generously gave me his spare electric one.
What a difference 10 years makes! I couldn’t believe how far electric heaters had come. Since then, I’ve had all kinds of electric heaters, from convection models to infra-red halogen heaters, so you can say I know a thing or two about them, and I can honestly say that they just continue to get better and better.