Best Radiator Fans, Boosters & Reflectors: How to improve radiator performance & reduce heating cost

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We have thankfully had a mild start to the winter, but with the recent rise in gas prices and no sign of it getting cheaper, many of us are looking for ways to reduce bills by improving home heating efficiency.

In general, there is not a great deal you can do to improve the overall performance of radiators.

Most of the efficiency comes from the boiler itself; modern condensing boilers can be 90% efficient, while the older none condensing boilers could be less than 60%. There can also be some improvement made with OpenTherm equipped boilers, which will connect central gas heating boilers with room thermostats allowing them to optimise the output temperatures, compared to just on/off.

So, if you need a new boiler, an OpenTherm condensing boiler will be a good investment, but I am not going to suggest everyone goes out to get a new boiler.

There are some small improvements you can make to improve heating efficiency. Some of the suggestions have a limited amount of data to support the claims, and none of the recommendations will be a magic bullet for saving money.

Radiator and central heating maintenance

A simple, cheap or free way to improve performance is to bleed your radiators to remove any air trapped at the top of the radiator. You can normally tell if this needs doing if the top of your radiator isn't very warm compared to the bottom.

Over time, your central heating system will get clogged up with sludge and rust, and it is, therefore, wise to have the system flushed. It only needs doing every few years, though.

It is possible to manually flush radiators, but an engineer would need to do the full system.

MagnaClean Filter + MagnaCleanse

To reduce the need for flushing and improve performance, you can install a MagnaClean filter which filters out the iron oxide sludge (rust) that builds up inside radiators. When the filter is fitted, you can have a MagnaCleanse which will get rid of all existing sludge in the system.

The company claims that using this allows radiators to be easier to heat, and energy bills are reduced by up to 6% per annum, on average. Due to the reduced sludge in the system, there are 30% fewer breakdowns and reduced emissions of up to 200-300kg per year/household.

Improving Radiator Performance & Efficiency

If your radiator is in a traditional location of under the window, you need to make sure curtains don't obstruct the flow of air. It is an obvious suggestion, but it will have a massive effect.

Radiator Foil Insulator

If the radiator is on an external wall, it has often been recommended to line the wall behind the radiator with foil to reduce heat loss through the cold wall. Using kitchen foil will likely have a minimal effect, but you can buy proper foil insulator roll, which should offer better performance. There are plenty of well-reviewed options on Amazon.

Radiator Fans & Boosters

Radiator fans or boosters are a bit more of a contentious topic. As you'd expect, all the brands that sell these products claim big savings.

When I reviewed the Speedcomfort radiator fans, they claimed up to 22% improvement, but there seemed to be little science to back this claim.

Competing brand, Radfan had worked with Salford University, tested a similar system and found that there was a 5% energy reduction.

While you can't improve the efficiency of the radiator itself, the logic seems to be that these devices circulate the warm air better, reducing the amount of hot air that stays at ceiling level, where you don't feel it. With this warm air not being trapped at the top of the room, at the very least, this should mean you feel the effects of the heating quicker and therefore means you don't need to pre-warm a room for quite as long.

Radfan claims to have a better design, with their product directing the air out horizontally, while SpeedFan and others accelerate the flow of air upwards.

Programmable Smart Thermostatic Radiator Valves & Smart Thermostats

I have an entire post dedicated to smart TRVs. However, these are likely some of the best ways to reduce heating costs for many homes, but have a high upfront cost.

A normal Thermostatic Radiator Valve will go and off every time your heating does. But a programable one will allow you to heat different rooms at different times. In the morning, you might want your bedroom to be warm for when you get up, but not bothered about living areas. Conversely, you might like a cool bedroom for when you go to sleep, but you will want a warm living area in the evening.

I've worked from home for years, and nowadays this has become a lot more popular, so being able to heat my office during the day but not the rest of the house has a huge impact on our heating bills.

All the smart TRVs work best when used with a smart thermostat and boiler control, and this is also how most of them are sold. This can be quite an expensive upfront investment, but it should offer a positive long term investment.

Last update on 2022-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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