Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how a few quick tricks can make your radiators a lot more efficient.

We talk a lot about boilers when it comes to central heating, but really, it’s the radiators that are the real champions of keeping your house toasty warm. They’re what pushes all that lovely hot air into your chilly rooms, after all. And just as regular boiler TLC is crucial, so too is it important to look after your radiators. These simple tricks will help them work as efficiently as possible, keeping your home warm, your carbon footprint minimal and your bills low.

  1. Bleed your radiators

All radiators need to be bled periodically – doing so removes the air bubbles that form within your central heating system. These bubbles are harmless, but they do mean your radiators won’t be working as efficiently as possible, so you’re liable to crank the heating up even higher to achieve the same level of warmth – and that just wastes money and energy. You’ll be able to tell if yours need bleeding if they’re taking longer than normal to heat up, or of the top of the radiator is cooler than the bottom when the heating is on. It’s a simple job you can do yourself – check out this easy step-by-step guide from Uswitch.

  1. Give radiators room

Radiators need space to do their job, so make sure yours aren’t blocked by furniture, which will prevent the warm air from circulating around the room. The same goes for curtains – make sure they’re not obstructing the flow of air. Also, be sure to avoid leaving clothes and towels over them – as lovely as it is to dry off with a hot towel or slip on a pair of warm pyjama bottoms, that’s heat that could be used to warm your house instead! Hang these items near the radiator instead.

  1. Put reflective foil behind radiators

A lot of heat from your radiators ends up being absorbed into the walls behind them – deflect it back into the room with tin foil. You can buy foil specially designed for this purpose for less than a tenner – ScrewFix sells 4 metre rolls for £6.29 and claims it can reduce heat loss by up to 50%. You could even use regular kitchen foil, providing it’s high quality.

  1. Put a shelf above radiators

A lot of radiators are placed under windows, and while this may seem like something of a design flaw, there is some logic to it. Cool air from the glass helps to push hot air from the radiator into the room, so the set-up is designed to help warm air circulate. However, some of that lovely warm air ends up being lost through the window glass and frames. But placing a shelf above the radiator will help fan heat into the room without it escaping.

  1. Play with radiator valves

Your boiler and thermostat work together to create heat in your radiators which emit warmth around the room, but it’s also possible to add another layer of control to the process by adjusting the thermostatic radiator valves (TVRs), aka, the valves at the bottom of your radiator. Keep them set to low and turn them up little-by-little until you’re at a comfortable temperature – you might find that you don’t need them on full blast after all. It’s also possible to ‘zone’ the heating in your house this way, so you might have the valves turned up to a higher setting in the living room, but lower – or completely off – in rarely-used rooms. This stops you paying to heat rooms no-one ever uses and means you’re not wasting energy for no reason.

The bottom line

Central heating is integral to life in the UK, but this kind of energy consumption is a major contributor to climate change. Using your radiators efficiently will reduce the amount of fossil fuels you need to burn and therefore lowers your impact on climate change – plus it’ll save you a lot of money on heating bills in the process.

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