As well as such hedonistic pursuits as insulating the loft, I've recently being going wild with other draught-bashing and heat-saving tricks. Here's the verdict on radiator foil (to keep the heat in) and thermostatic valves (to keep the heat from getting excessive).
Radiator foil is basically aluminium foil with padding, designed to
radiate heat back into the room rather than through the wall behind it.
I can't find the Energy Saving Trust's figures, but I seem to recall
the estimated saving a year for a 3-bed house is in the region of £10.
Not much, but then the foil only costs £5 for a roll - enough for 4 big
radiators - and the glue is another £5. Suffice to say, it's very easy
to fit, even for a DIY disaster like me.
you do is grab a tape measure, measure up - taking into account where
the wall mounts are - snip with some scissors, slap the polystyrene
glue on the back, slide it down and press it against the wall. I'm sure
if you wanted to do a really neat job, you could go to the hassle of
taking the radiator off, but the effect (see photo below) was good
enough for me.
My wife says she can tell the room's warmer, though I couldn't honestly
say I've noticed the difference. To source the raw materials, try your
local DIY shop - mine were from B&Q, although the products aren't
listed on its site.
And what of those thermostatic radiator
valves (often called TRVs)? If you're new to them, the concept's
simple. Fit one on each of your radiators and they'll detect when your
desired temperature -20 degrees, say - has been reached, and then
regulate the heating output so the temperature doesn't go above that.
In short, they should require less gas to be burned, less carbon to be
shoved into the atmosphere and fewer humans over-heated and drowsing
Buying these for £5 each in B&Q (pictured left), the instructions
looked like a DIY job. It's not. You'll need a plumber. And, as I
discovered, you'll probably need that plumber for a couple of hours
because they'll need to drain your entire central heating system, which
at £80 an hour isn't cheap.
So unless you have some basic
plumbing skills - which I don't - I'd recommend not bothering with
thermostatic valves unless you're in the process of actually replacing
the entire radiator. Otherwise, you simply won't make your money back.
It's also worth noting the valves are fairly crude, as they're only
measuring the temperature by the radiator - which might mean the wall
by your radiator remains nice and toasty but your armchair's stays
rather chilly. Generally, though, I've found they do what they say on
At some point I'll do the maths and post on whether this has had an impact on my gas bill (and accompanying carbon footprint).