Weather is predicted to sink further below freezing over the next fortnight, a worrying turn of events for the British public. One aspect of the cold weather we're familiar with is high heating bills. Unless you want the risk the pipes bursting (and losing central heating altogether) the radiators will rarely need to be left on through the day. For households left empty during work hours this can be especially annoying, and it's worth looking for cheaper solutions.
Before you invest in an electric heater, ask yourself what your exact needs are. There are three heating options available. Oil radiators will heat a room slowly, though for a long time. Fan heaters will warm up an entire room extremely fast, but need to be left running constantly. Halogen heaters will heat up an area of a room instantly, warming up the room in general over time.
These are the most cost effective option out there. Plugged into the mains, a heating element will warm an internal supply of oil which circulates around the structure like a regular radiator. The heating element will turn off at certain temperatures, cutting down on electric costs substantively, while not using external water supplies.
Oil radiators are probably the cheapest way of warming a room. They're more efficient and effective than central heating, as well as being free-standing. However after a day at work many will not want to spend an hour waiting for their living room to heat up.
They are the complete opposite of oil radiators. Within five to ten minutes (depending on the size of the room) the entire living space will be as hot as desired. Unfortunately, there are a good many downsides to the product. They suck the moisture from the air, and can quickly lead to dry and cracked skin. The fan tend to be extremely noisy, and the moment it's turned off the heat will quickly dissipate.
In addition to this, fan heaters are by far the most power-intensive of the three products listed here. They're good for some uses, but leaving them on for lengthy periods fast becomes more expensive than using central heating on the entire house.
They take a while to heat a room, but are undeniably effective. They're completely silent, and please require pointing at the part of the room you wish to heat, particularly useful when placed up against a wall, and will warm it instantly. Over time the entire room will be heated, faster than an oil radiator and for longer than the fan heater. You'll still experience a higher energy bill than oil radiators, and if they're pointed toward people they can be uncomfortably bright.
Depending on your needs, some of these options may be preferred to relying on the central heating. Low-cost heating for a single room can be handy if only a couple of people live in your house or flat. Always keep track of your exact heating bill, and see if transfering some of that to electric heating could be a benefit.