All products have been chosen by our editorial team in line with recommendations from experts. This page contains affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission for purchases made, but this comes at no extra cost to you and helps us continue providing top-quality content for our readers.

The best energy efficient heaters to keep your home warm this winter, plus how to calculate the cost of using an electric heater

While the weather’s still warm, it could be advantageous to pick up an energy-efficient heater on the cheap before prices inevitably rise this winter. In line with some expert advice, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best to buy online.

The best electric heaters

As we head towards winter, there are a few reasons why you might consider buying a free-standing electric (or space) heater. If you have a room in your home that isn’t connected to your central heating system, or you live in one of the 4 million homes in the UK that aren’t linked to the gas network, then buying a portable heater that you’re able to move around is an efficient and affordable solution.

Advertisement

There are a few different styles of heater to choose from. Fan, halogen, oil-filled and convection heaters all distribute heat differently, so it’s important to consider the characteristics of each and their suitability for your space before parting with your cash. With energy prices expected to rise even further this winter, it’s also worth considering how much extra it might cost you in electricity costs to run an additional appliance.

To help you find an electric heater best suited to your home, The Recommended spoke to an electrical heating expert, you can read his expert advice in full at the bottom of this page. In line with his advice, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best energy-efficient heaters to warm your home this winter, along with an estimated monthly operating cost for each appliance.

Want to keep warm without turning on the heating this winter? Check out our list of the best hooded blankets.

Jump to the best electric heaters:

How much does it cost to run an electric heater?

According to Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, the current price cap for electricity for households in the UK currently stands at £0.28 per kWh used (until 30 September 2022). This is in addition to the daily standing charge of £0.45, a daily fixed amount that households must pay to their energy provider irrespective of how much energy is used.

The amount you currently pay for electricity may differ from the current price cap. To find out how much you pay, you can find it on your electricity bill.

How to calculate the monthly operating cost of an appliance

  1. Multiply the appliance Wattage by Hours used per day to calculate the Watt-hours consumed per day
  2. Divide the Watt-hours per day by 1000 to calculate the Kilowatt-hours (kWh)
  3. Multiply the kWh by 30 days to calculate the kWh per month
  4. Multiply the kWh per month by electricity price per kWh to calculate the appliance’s monthly operating cost

The best electric heaters

Best overall electric heater: RDN 500W-2000W Electric Panel Heater

A great all-round, efficient choice 

_RDN 500W-2000W Electric Panel Heater

This electric convection heater ticks all of our expert’s boxes for energy efficiency. It has a built-in thermostat, which is accurate to within half a degree, a 24/7 digital timer, and is Lot 20 compliant.

This heater is available in four output powers – 500W, 1000W, 1500W, and 2000W – which you can choose between depending on the BTU of your room. The thermostat automatically switches the appliance off when the target room temperature is met to save energy. It can also be mounted onto a wall or used free-standing with wheels (supplied).

  • Estimated cost per month (1500W) with four hours of daily use = £50.40

Best electric fan heater: Pro Breeze 2000W Mini Ceramic Fan Heater

Compact and portable design

Pro Breeze 2000W Mini Ceramic Fan Heater

Best suited for localised heating and short bursts of heat in small rooms, this fan heater has three power settings to choose from depending on the size of your space: 2000W, 1300W, and 900W.

This fan heater also boasts an adjustable thermostat that automatically switches the unit off once a target temperature is achieved, giving you more control over how much energy you use. The heating elements are ceramic for extra efficiency, as it heats up quickly. It also has a built-in safety feature which is designed to shut the appliance off if it overheats. It measures 6.4 x 12.3 x 23.1cm and weighs 1.59kg.

  • Estimated cost per month (2000W) with four hours of daily use = £67.20

Best electric halogen heater: Igenix IG9514 Portable Upright 3 Bar Halogen Electric Heater

For localised heating

_Igenix IG9514 Portable Upright 3 Bar Halogen Electric Heater

Ideal for providing direct heat to nearby areas, this halogen heater has three power settings – 400, 800 and 1200W – and has a built-in auto-cut safety feature that kicks in if the appliance tips over.

This halogen heater is designed to warm up quickly and provide instant heat. It also has a wide base to help avoid the unit from tipping over. It has a carry handle on the top for portability, and the whole appliance weighs 2.4kg.

  • Estimated cost per month (1200W) with four hours of daily use = £40.32

Best oil-filled electric heater: VonHaus Oil Filled Radiator

Great controllability

VonHaus Oil Filled Radiator

Designed to heat whole rooms (up to 28㎡), this oil-filled heater has three heat settings – 1000W, 1500W, 2500W – an adjustable thermostat, and a 24-hour timer to allow accurate programming.

This appliance works by heating 11 oil-filled fins. This then pumps the oil around the unit creating a convection of heat that transfers into the room. It is wheel-mounted to help you move it between different spaces and comes fitted with a tip-over safety switch in case it is accidentally knocked over.

  • Estimated cost per month (2500W) with four hours of daily use = £84

Best electric convection heater: Duronic Heater Oil Free Electric HV101

Silent running

Duronic Heater Oil Free Electric

This electric convection heater has three heat settings – 1000W, 1500W, and 2500W – and an adjustable thermostat (accurate to within two degrees) ranging from 18 to 36 degrees.

This appliance has no moving parts, which means that it runs silently when switched on. It also has protective grills on the outside for safety, as well as a shut-off function that automatically turns the appliance off if it overheats or is tipped over. It is free-standing and has wheels on the bottom to help when moving between rooms.

  • Estimated cost per month (2500W) with four hours of daily use = £84

Best electric wall heater: Wärme Designer Electric Wall Heater

Wall-mounted

_Wärme Designer Electric Wall Heater

With a temperature range of 15-35 degrees celsius, this wall-mounted electric convection heater has an output of 2000W, as well as a programmable digital thermostat.

This electric heater is designed to heat rooms up to 22㎡ in size. It is 8cm in width and weighs 9.3kg. It also has an IP22 waterproof rating, which the manufacturer says makes it suitable to use in bathrooms.

  • Estimated cost per month (2000W) with four hours of daily use = £67.20

Best electric desk heater: Pro Breeze Mini Heater

Perfect for desks

_Pro Breeze Mini Heater

This mini electric fan heater is the perfect desk companion, weighing just 710g and measuring 19 x 10.5 x 16.5cm. It has a 500W output, which is plenty for heating just your own workspace.

This mini heater has an adjustable thermostat and a built-in safety feature that switches the appliance off if it overheats or tips over. It is mains powered and has a flat-bottom design for safely placing on top of desks.

  • Estimated cost per month (500W) with four hours of daily use = £16.80

Best small electric heater: Dreo Space Heater Atom One

With LED display and remote control

_Dreo Space Heater Atom One

Shorter than a 30cm ruler in height and weighing 2.17kg, this compact and lightweight space heater has a 1500W max output, which is great for heating small to medium-sized rooms.

This heater has four settings – 1500W, 1000W, 900W, Eco, and Fan only – and comes with remote control with a range of 8 metres. It also features a 1-12 hour timer for programming heating cycles, as well as an intuitive LED control panel display.

  • Estimated cost per month (1500W) with four hours of daily use = £50.40

Our electric heating expert

Rhylan Bell is the head of sales at ThermoSphere, a specialist manufacturer of electric heating.

Rhylan Bell is the head of sales at ThermoSphere, a specialist manufacturer of electric heating. Rhylan was introduced to the industry over 20 years ago, having grown up in the family business that has been operating since 1998. In 2016, he joined ThermoSphere’s technical team and now leads ThermoSphere’s business-to-business sales and strategy. Rhylan says his enthusiasm for electric heating stems from “its potential to revolutionise the way we control heating our homes and its importance in meeting net zero goals”.

What’s the difference between fan, halogen, oil-filled and convection heaters – and which is the best?

As Rhylan explains, in order to choose between these different types of electric heaters, you should consider how and where you want to use one. “Fan and halogen heaters would normally be used for very localised heating or to act as a top-up in a particular situation,” he says, “whereas oil-filled heaters and convection heaters can be used as whole room heaters”.

A halogen heater may be the best pick if you plan to fix the heater to an outside wall or hard wire it to your electricity supply. “Halogen heaters are generally fixed at a higher level,” says Rhylan. “They can often be used outside on terraces to provide additional comfort for outdoor dining.”

For heating rooms, Rhylan says that it’s best to use oil-filled radiators or electric convectors. “The choice between these two is generally one of budget,” he explains. “Oil-filled heaters are more efficient than convectors but will be more expensive to buy initially. Halogen heaters can be used in areas where you’re not trying to heat the air in the space, but rather people or objects through the radiant effect of the heater, such as spaces with a high ceiling and outdoor spaces, like terraces.”

What considerations should people make when shopping for an electric heater?

According to Rhylan, you should look for an electrical heater that provides “efficiency, controllability, and eco-design principles”. He outlines the following as key considerations to make when shopping for an electrical heater:

  • Controllability: The ability to programme your heater accurately is “a must-have”, says Rhylan, as it will help you to control when it uses energy, and therefore give you greater control of your electricity bill. He adds that electric radiators with inbuilt digital thermostats are known for their accuracy and so are worth looking out for.
  • Eco design: Rhylan also recommends choosing a heater that is Lot 20 compliant. This is a piece of legislation that has been in use in the UK since 2018, with the aim of reducing energy consumption. He says that heaters which are Lot 20 compliant have more energy-saving features than those which aren’t and allow you to operate your heating system more efficiently.
  • Cost: The average cost per unit of electricity is currently higher than the cost per unit of gas in the UK. However, Rhylan points out that there’s more to consider than just unit cost. “When looking at heating systems, it’s important to factor in other costs, which include installation, maintenance and system durability/longevity,” he says. “This is where gas fuelled heating systems start to lose out. If you have your heating on constantly, electric heaters will not be for you as they cost more to run. It follows that the ability to control and schedule the heater is so important.”

How much electricity does an electric heater use?

The electricity usage (also referred to as output) of an appliance sold in the UK is detailed on the data plate on the back of the product and is listed in Watts.

The wattage you need will depend on the size of the room you intend to heat. To work this out, you first need to calculate the BTU (British Thermal Unit) of your room, which will give how much heat a room needs to maintain your desired temperature. This calculator from B&Q is free to use.

Once you know the BTU of your room, divide that number by 3.41 to get the number of watts you need from an electric heater to heat your space effectively. Rhylan recommends rounding this number up to the nearest wattage to avoid buying a heater that may not be suitable for the size of your room. That being said, “there’s no disadvantage in purchasing a slightly higher output radiator,” says Rhylan, “as this just means the room will heat up quicker, and the radiator will switch off sooner once your room is heated to the correct temperature”.

How efficient is an electric heater?

As Rhylan explains, electric heaters are “100% efficient at point of use”, meaning that “every Joule of energy you pay for is converted into heat, which helps save energy and reduce running costs”. He adds that this equates to an efficiency improvement of 20-40% compared to wet (or hydronic) radiators.

Advertisement

In the UK and EU, household appliances display energy efficiency levels to help consumers shop for greener products. According to gov.uk, space heaters are included in the list of appliances where it is mandatory to display energy efficiency labels. On the label, you will find how the appliance ranks on the energy efficiency scale ranging from A (being the highest) down to G (the lowest).

If you want to read more expert-recommended round-ups and product guides, check out our Household page, where you’ll find more home recommendations, including the best hooded blanketsthe best portable solar panels and solar power bank and the best alarm clocks.