OK so radiators are not exactly exciting – why on earth would I devote an entire page of my website to them? Well mainly because a lot of the time these essential components within a central heating system are mis-used representing an opportunity make some useful energy savings.
What are the opportunities? In no particular order:
- The average radiator presents at least 30-40% of its surface area to the wall on which it is mounted, heating the structure of the building rather than the treated space. Now when you heat the wall there is a natural tendency for that heat to be conducted to colder sections of the wall and eventually the energy will be lost at a thermal bridge (such as window frame or roof joist) and thence to the atmosphere. One solution is to fit some form of reflective panel to the wall and there are several on the market purpose designed to cut this heat loss by 80-85% which in turn allows the radiators to function more effectively and reduces demand on the boiler by 8-10%. Payback on this simple DIY measure is usually within 1 heating season.
- Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) – most customers just don’t understand how these things work and as a result are wasting lots of energy adjusting settings, turning them on and off, messing about with not only the individual treated space temperature but the balance of their whole building. The TRV comprises a valve connected to an actuator via a mechanical linkage, housed in a simple plastic casing. The actuator is made up of a solid wax plug in an adjustable housing which sits at a given distance from a metal pin which is connected to the linkage of the valve and is spring loaded. When the temperature of the treated space (room) increases the wax plug expands, pushes against the pin and closes off the valve – stopping flow of hot water into the radiator – this is reversed as the room cools down. The adjustment we make manually increases or decreases the distance from the pin to the wax plug. Set your valve – usually between 3-4 and please please please leave it alone to allow the radiator and the room to find a natural balance. The latest wireless digital TRVs are very snazzy and do the job accurately and efficiently – but like everything in this area once set they are best left alone.
- RadFan – a recent innovation this – simple low energy fans that sit atop the radiator and when there is sufficient heat rising a thermostatic sensor switches on the whisper quiet fan to boost warm air flowing into the treated space. I have to say I was sceptical so I asked for a sample which RadFan kindly supplied without a quibble and I am suitably impressed. My son’s bedroom is a cold space with two external walls facing North and West and the radiator struggled to get it up to temperature – with the RadFan in place the space is much warmer and I even hear the TRV clicking off sometimes which is a major step forward.