Radiators, storage heaters, gas fires… what’s the best way to heat your home workspace?

This winter is set to be pretty unusual. Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, many of us will be spending the season working from home. And without the comforts that come from working in a temperature-controlled office, that leaves us wondering how best to stay warm during our new 9-5 without spending an absolute fortune on energy bills.

What will work best for you – that is, the most effective way to keep your work environment toasty warm without wasting energy – depends on your circumstances. Whether you’ve got a home office or you’re set up at the dining room table, read on to find out how to beat the chill as efficiently as possible this work-from-home-winter.

If you have a modern heating system

If you’ve got a modern gas or oil central heating system – and your home is well insulated – it’s generally better to use central heating to heat most of your home as you usually would. The technology involved, such as balanced flues, heat exchangers and condensing tech, means these new systems are the most efficient way of keeping your home warm, so there’s no need to worry about heating a room individually.

If you have radiators with temperature controls

If your heating system is reasonably up to date, your radiators will most likely have individual controls, known as thermostatic radiator valves (or TRVs). They let you adjust the temperature of each radiator throughout the house. If this is your set-up, your best bet is to turn the TRVs down in the rooms you’re not using throughout the day, and up in the place where you’re working.

If your radiators don’t have temperature controls

If your radiators can’t be adjusted individually, then you’ve got an ‘all or nothing’ scenario, and keeping the heating on throughout the house in order to stay warm in just one room is a big waste of money and energy. In this instance, you’re better off using an electric heater in the room where you’re spending the most time. Devices that rely on heating up fuel (as well as movable bottled gas heaters, known as LPG heaters) are not energy-efficient, so avoid these where you can.

Heat rises, so place the electric heater close to the ground and make sure the air surrounding it isn’t obstructed by furniture. If you’ve got a wireless thermostat, move it outside of the room you’re heating, otherwise you could disrupt the main heating system. According to the Centre for Sustainable Energy, a convector heater is your best bet if you plan on being in the room for more than a couple of hours. If you're just after a quick burst of warmth, however, go for a fan heater.

If you have storage heaters

Storage heaters are designed to store up off-peak electricity for dispersal as and when required, although it’s fairly standard for some peak-rate electricity to be needed on occasion. Nonetheless, it is still usually cheaper to heat a single room using an electric fan heater than it is to rely on storage heaters for warmth throughout the day.

If you have a gas fire

According to uswitch.com, if you’re working in a living room with a gas fire, it’s only worth using this instead of your central heating if the room is less than a third of the size of your home. While a modern central heating boiler might have an efficiency of 90%, a gas fire might only be around 50% to 60% efficient, and an open flame gas fire as little as 30% efficient or lower. This is because a lot of heat is lost up the chimney or flue. A gas fire also needs a lot of ventilation to operate safely, which also contributes to the loss of warmth. If the room accounts for more than a third of your home, you’re better off exploring the above options instead.

Other ways to stay warm

  • A well-insulated home is less reliant on heating to stay warm. Read our guide to home insulation and see how much money you could save by insulating your roof, walls or floors.
  • Draughts are the enemy! It doesn’t matter whether you’re using central heating or an electric heater to stay warm, draughty windows, floorboards and doors mean you’re basically paying to heat the outdoors. Here’s how to tackle draughtiness in an afternoon.
  • If you are relying on your radiators, make sure you’re using them properly. Here are five tips and tricks you might not have considered.

The bottom line

This winter is set to be an odd time for a lot of us – working from home during the cold months could take some getting used to! Making sure you know how to best stay warm during this period means you’ll stay healthy and comfortable without wasting money or energy.

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