Heating Costs - Which is Cheapest?
Work out your heating costs - prices updated Nov 2021
These calculators are for portable heaters using electricity or bottled gas.
All electric heaters of the same rating will use the same amount of energy when turned on eg: a 2kW oil filled radiator will use the same amount as a 2kW fan heater.
Manufacturers claims of reduced running costs for certain heaters are due to them automatically being switched on and off or turned down to save energy use. You can read more about this in our 'Low Running Cost heaters, Fact or Fiction' post
Please note the calculations returned should be taken as a guide only and are not detailed heat loss calculations.
Some appliances give heat output in BTU (British Thermal Units) to convert between BTU and kWh use this calculator
Fuel Cost Comparison Tables
The section below the table has a guide on running, buying and installation costs of each type of heater, we have also included mains gas, fixed LPG & wood-burning stoves for comparison).
How Much Bang For Your Buck
Comparative average fuel heating costs per kWh.
kWh Heat output per unit
Average Cost per kWh (Nov 2021)
|Electricity||1kW||1||17.8p( inc VAT & standing charge)|
|Mains Gas||1m3 (0.717grams)||10.55||4p (inc VAT & standing charge)|
|Butane (Calor gas blue bottle)||1kg||20||20p (based on 15kg bottle)|
|Propane (Calor Gas red or green bottles)||1kg||14||17p (based on 13kg bottle)|
|Domestic Heating oil (kerosene / Paraffin oil)||1 litre||10.35||5.6p|
|Kiln-dried hardwood||1kg||5||8.3p (kiln dried <20% moisture)|
Electric Heating Costs
Energy Unit Costs
Electricity averages about 16p per kWh including standing charges and VAT (Oct 2018). This depends on your supplier and the tariff you are on.
Running a 1-kilowatt electric heater (any type) costs about 16p per hour, a 2Kw 32p, a 3Kw 48p and so on. To compare tariffs visit Energy Helpline.
For 2kW heaters
- Fan heaters: From under £10, to £200+
- Oil filled radiators: From £30 to £250+
- Convector heaters: From under £20 up to £200+
- Under £20 up to £200 for high-quality models
- Wall Mounted panel heaters: From £130 to £320+
- Freestanding electric fires: From £50 to £700+
A portable electric heater is free to install, plug it in and (following safety guidelines) place it in the space you need to be heated.
Electric fires: These are plug-in free standing or wall hung models which do not require any special installation.
Some more advanced electric heaters may require professional fitting, have look at our electric heater page for more info on this.
Portable Calor Gas Heating Costs
Energy Unit Costs
One 15 kilo cylinder of bottled Butane gas costs £40.5 (Oct'2018) and contains approx 205 kW* of heat energy.
This works out at an energy cost of around 20p per kWh
Running a 4.2 kW portable gas heater on full costs about 84p per hour.
Running it at 2kW (the same heat output as an average electric heater) costs about 40p per hour.
*Varies between 195kW & 210kW depending on the mix of Butane
A basic 4.2 kW heater cabinet, which takes a 15kg gas cylinder, costs £60+
A better quality cabinet with more features can cost up t0 £200
Top range stove models with log or coal type fire beds up to £450
A deposit of £39.99 is payable when collecting your first gas Cylinder.
Portable Calor gas heaters need no specialist fitting.
Follow the recommended safety precautions by making sure your space is well ventilated, they are placed on a firm level surface and out of the way of foot traffic.
Ensure that they cannot be knocked over by children or pets.
If you rent or are a leaseholder make sure you have the landlords/freeholders permission to use bottled gas in the property.
Fixed instillation Calor Gas (LPG) Heating Costs
Energy Unit Costs
Bulk buying LPG depends upon supplier and can range from 40p to 70p+ per litre
Our advice is to call around suppliers to get the best price and get it fixed.
See this Mail on Sunday article about LPG prices
Propane has a heat output of approx 7.1 kW per litre.
Running a 2 Kilowatt LPG heater will average about 12p an hour.
As many mains gas fires can be adapted to burn LPG the costs are similar. If you see one you like ask if it comes with an LPG option.
High quality dedicated LPG Fires can cost £350+
A fitted LPG fire is directly comparable with a mains gas fire, many can be adapted to burn either fuel. For installation & usage information on fitted LPG fires please visit The Home Fire Shop
If you wish to install an LPG bulk tank system in your home call a specialist company such as Calor Gas or Flogas and compare quotes.
Mains Gas Heating Costs
Energy Unit Costs
Mains gas costs about 6p per kWh, including standing charges and VAT, depending on the supplier (Oct 2018).
Running a 2 Kilowatt mains gas fire costs about 12p an hour.
Mains gas fires cost from about £130 for a basic model to £3000+ for a high spec unit.
Main gas is used to power most central heating systems, some fires have back boilers, these are not as efficient as modern boilers and are being phased out.
A new Baxi Bermuda BBU HE back boiler will cost about £800 inc VAT excluding fitting costs.
A mains gas heater must be fitted by a gas registered engineer!
Quotes will vary depending on the type of heater and whether it is a new or replacement installation.
For more information on installing & using mains gas fires please visit The Home Fire Shop.
Wood Burning Stove Heating Costs
Energy Unit Costs
High-quality kiln-dried hardwood costs about £195 for just over 1m3 (about 100 Kilograms), inclusive of delivery & VAT.
Heat output per Kg is 4.5kW - 5kW or about 2.5p per KWh. Running a 5 Kilowatt stove this way costs about 10p an hour.
Source your own wood for free and the costs drop significantly, cutting heating bills by up to 90%
Visit the Home Fire Shop for more details
Wood burning stoves without back boilers.
5.5 kW from £180, up to £1000 for 20kW
You can pay over £3000 for Scandinavian high-efficiency designer models
Models with boilers vary on design & quality from around £600 to £3000
A wood-burning stove should be fitted by a HETAS engineer who will give you a certificate of compliance to meet building regulations.
Costs can start from £450.
You must get an estimate before you buying as unexpected issues can boost the installation costs to over £1000
Please visit The Home Fire Shop for information about Wood Burning Stoves.
Electric or Calor Gas?
For a full breakdown of the types of portable electric heaters and how to choose the right one for your needs see our Guide to Electric Heaters.
Even with central heating, you will need one or more portable heaters, it is also advisable to have a back heater up in case your central heating breaks down.
Electric portable heaters can be very cheap to buy see our Budget heaters selection.
Fan heaters: Are the most versatile as they are light, easy to carry, compact, cool down and heat up very quickly, so can be immediately plugged out and moved to another room.
Convector heaters: While bigger are also light enough to move easily, but have to be given time to cool down before they can be re-sited.
Oil filled radiators and panel heaters: Are heavier and usually just bought to stay in one room, or stored and used as needed. They don't dry out the air like fan & convector heaters. Panel heaters are the best choice for children's & sick rooms as they don't move dust around the room.
If you use one room at a time, buy one heater and move it around with you.
To see our range of recommended portable Electric heaters see our Heater Reviews
Calor Gas Heaters
For full information on Calor Gas Heaters see our Guide to Calor Gas Heaters page.
They are the first choice when looking for a backup heater because they do not need an external power source they are an independent heating solution.
They are the most versatile and can be used to heat any well-ventilated space inside or in remote spaces such as a garden shed, garage or caravan.
Essential in remote and 'off the grid' areas or as an emergency heat source in case of power cuts.
Most are on wheels so they can be easily moved around, to carry them up and down stairs you have to remove the bottle.
We advise buying 2 cylinders so when one runs out you have an immediate replacement without waiting for a new one to be delivered.
To see our range of recommended Calor Gas heaters visit our Calor Gas Heaters Reviews
For Information on Mains Gas, fixed LPG fires and wood burning stoves please visit The Home Fire Shop.
What is a Kilowatt hour?
The Simple answer:
The amount of heat 13200 candles can put out is one Kilowatt, leave them burning for an hour they have produced 1-kilowatt hours (KWh) worth of energy!
The technical answer:
A kilowatt-hour is how many thousand (Kilo) watts of power you use in one hour and is used to calculate energy usage.
A watt is the basic unit of power calculated as 1 Ampere (the unit of the rate of electrical flow) flowing at 1 Volt (the unit of pressure driving electrical flow).
To get Watts you multiply Volts by Amperes, a 240-volt electric heater draws about 8.33 Amperes will be rated as using just under 2000 watts of power (240 X 8.33 = 1999.2)
You divide the wattage by 1000 to convert to kW, our 2000 watt heater would be rated at 2Kw.
You then multiply the Kilowatt rating by the number of hours the heater is in use.
If you leave our 2 Kilowatt heater on for an hour it would be would be using 2 KWh, if your electric costs 15p per kWh it would cost you 30p.
Heater Efficiency Ratings
You pay for the energy you use, not the heat energy the heater gives out.
The efficiency rating is how much energy used compared to how much is converted to heat.
An electric heater converts nearly 100% electrical energy to heat, for every pound you spend on energy you get back about 99.9% back in heat energy
Traditional gas/LPG fires convert between 50% & 80% gas energy to heat, for every £1 you spend on gas between 20p & 50p is wasted.
A catalytic gas fire is nearly 100% efficient so is more cost-effective than traditional fires.
Wood burning stoves can be anything from 10% to 80% efficient depending on the wood used and design of the stove. Using high-quality kiln-dried wood and a well-designed stove can give you 80%+ efficiency.