Control the temperature
Modern domestic radiators have thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), which allow you to set the temperature (snowflake to 5). Older radiators or radiators in public areas e.g. office or hotel corridors, may not have controls so TRVs can be retrofitted.
TRVs work by sensing the air temperature around them, and regulating the flow of hot water entering the radiators to keep a set temperature in a room. They can help you save money and energy, by allowing you to set lower temperatures, and to turn off the heating in rooms that aren’t used. If room thermostats are present then TRVs are not needed. But if you do have them, you should keep the TRVs on their highest possible settings.
One last point. TRVs need a free flow of air to sense the temperature so keep them clear of curtains, furniture and lamps.
Bleed the radiators
If your radiator is cold at the top and toasty at the bottom it is probably full of air so needs bleeding. When the radiator is off, insert a radiator key into the square valve at the top of the radiator. Turn the key slowly anticlockwise, while holding a cloth underneath. You will hear a hissing sound as air escapes. When the water starts to spurt out close the valve.
Ideally radiators should be bled annually. If you have to do it more often or the air releasing has an odour, it may be that the heating system is corroding so a plumber should be consulted. If manually bleeding all your radiators seems like hard work, you could invest automatic self-bleeding valves, for instance Aladdin HV30 Self-Bleed Automatic Radiator Valves.
Fit radiator reflector panels
Reflector panels are an easy way to improve the energy efficiency of your radiators. Radiators fitted to exterior walls can lose up to 70% of their heat through the bricks and mortar. Insulating radiator panels reflect heat away from the wall and out into your home, improves radiator efficiency by 10-20%. This would save an average three bedroom semi-detached house with 4.5m2 radiators £60 a year or 250kg CO2.
Reflector panels are fitted without removing radiators and are best fitted behind radiators on exterior walls. You can buy purpose made reflectors from most DIY stores or make your own using aluminium foil and cardboard.
To make your own reflectors, wrap a sheet of tin foil around a sheet of pre-cut cardboard. Fit with the shiny side facing out to reflect heat back into the radiator.
Ready-made reflectors, although they cost more, are probably more effective. For instance check out SuperFOIL RadPack Energy Saving Heat Reflector Radiator Foil, that can be cut to size then stuck behind radiators using double-sided tape. Alternatively check out panels from Radflek or from Heatkeeper Energy Saving Radiator Panels – 10 pack.
Fit a radiator booster device
The Radiator Booster MK2 is an energy-saving device which helps to heat rooms faster. It is positioned behind standard domestic radiators, utilising miniature 12V electric fans to suck the heat up from the radiator and transfers it out into the room quicker than any conventional convection. This reduces heat loss through the wall and as it heats the room quicker, it allows the heating system to switch off sooner saving energy.
Fit radiator shelves
The jury appears to be out on whether radiator shelves actually work. Shelves fitted above a radiator are claimed to help deflect rising heat, thus making the radiators markedly more efficient at heating a room. Shelves are particularly effective if fitted above radiators underneath windows, so that the bottom of the curtains just rests on the shelf. This prevents warm air from being trapped and wasted between the curtain and the window.
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