DIY Radiator Reflectors Help Keep Your Home Heated with Less Energy

When it comes to battling high energy bills in the winter, it helps to find every little advantage you can. There are plenty of expensive ways to reduce your heat and air conditioning spending, like replacing your windows, replacing your insulation, or purchasing new HVAC equipment.

However, homeowners can also take advantage of little tricks that cost almost nothing and can help save precious extra dollars. One example is purchasing or making reflectors for your radiators. Read on to learn how you can make your home’s heating system more energy efficient by adding reflectors.

Hot Air Escaping Through the Walls

Boilers may be falling out of favor these days to more popular options like forced-air furnaces and heat pumps, but plenty of households still rely on gas or oil boilers to stay warm. These pieces of HVAC equipment heat homes by circulating steam or hot water through radiators located around the edges of each room.

Therein lies the rub: the radiators are near the walls so they are out of the way and can easily be connected to the pipes from the boiler, but part of the heat they emit can be lost through the wall via conduction. This can be an especially big problem in older homes where the insulation is less robust. Fortunately, you can act to cut some of those losses and improve energy efficiency with a radiator reflector.

Radiated Heat vs. Air Convection

The simplest radiator reflectors are DIY—just hang a strip of tin foil on the wall behind the equipment. The idea is to reflect some of the heat back into the room that would otherwise be absorbed by the wall. It is widely believed that tin foil is your best option to improve the heating performance of your radiators. However, despite its reflective properties, tin foil isn't actually the best material to use. As it turns out, despite the name, most of the heat that radiators give off is via convection of heated air, not radiation.

Therefore, a more effective tactic is to line the wall with a thicker material, like foam, that can help boost the room’s insulation. Your local hardware store might have a specific product designated as a radiator reflector in its heat and air conditioning section, or you can just cut a piece of foam yourself. If you want to then line it with tin foil to capture any marginal bits of extra radiated heat, go for it.

If adding radiator reflectors did not make a big enough difference to your home’s heating system, you may need a professional HVAC company. To service your boiler, radiators, or other components of your heat and air conditioning system, contact an expert HVAC technician from One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.