Improving radiator efficiency with aluminum foil

by thomas on April 29, 2009

Do you heat your home with radiators? Then you can cut your heating costs and have your home feel warmer, all for the cost of a roll of aluminum foil.

While radiators are a generally good way of heating a room, one disadvantage they have is that they will radiate heat in more or less all directions – including straight towards the outer walls they tend to be mounted on. This means that heat is lost as it is conducted through the wall to the cold outside; heat that could be put to better use inside your home.

A good portion of this potentially lost heat can be reflected back into your home, simply by gluing aluminum foil to the wall behind the radiator. Make sure you glue it with the dull side facing the wall. The shiny side should face inwards, since this will reflect more heat back into to the room.

Also, make sure the aluminum foil isn’t touching any parts of the radiator itself. If it does, it will start conducting heat into the wall, effectively negating the gains you get from its reflectivity.

Thin and flimsy aluminum foil covered in glue might be a bit difficult to handle in the narrow space between the wall and the radiator. I recommend gluing the foil to a piece of stiff cardboard first, and then stick this to the wall.

If you’re worried about aesthetics, keep in mind that the most important area to cover is directly behind the radiator; that’s where the largest amount of heat escapes. This means that you could hide the aluminum foil entirely behind the radiator and still get a decent part of the benefits.

If cutting heating costs is top priority, or if you think a shiny border around your radiator would look cool, you should cover a larger portion of the wall – about 6 inches/15 centimeters out from the radiator would boost your savings noticeably. As a nice bonus, your home will feel warmer and snugger from the increased surface that radiates heat.

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