Supposedly, you can attach aluminum foil behind radiators and thereby be able to improve heat retention in your own home. But could this actually prove to be a clever trick to beat rising gas and heating energy bills? Experts suggest that you could save around 40 to 90 EUR per year from your energy bills by placing a reflective foil behind the heating system in your home. This should allow heat to return to the room instead of escaping through the walls. Find out below which method works best so you can optimize your heating costs during the winter season.
Table of Contents
- Does placing aluminum foil behind radiators really make a home warmer?
- How do you apply aluminum foil behind radiators yourself?
Does placing aluminum foil behind radiators really make a home warmer?
With rising energy costs, homeowners are doing everything they can to save money on their utility bills, including trying DIY alternatives. One of the ways to save money is to put aluminum foil behind radiators. In theory, of course, the benefits can be a warmer, more comfortable home and less wasted energy, meaning lower utility bills. You can either use regular aluminum foil for this or buy special reflective foil at hardware stores as well as online in rolls or sheets.
I’m sure you’ve also considered that your radiators radiate 50% of their power into the wall they hang on. It seems like a real waste to have your heating system working so hard just to heat the walls. Installing insulation on the back wall or an insulating panel behind the radiator can greatly reduce heat loss through walls and increase comfort in your home. If you want to reduce the operating costs of your lights but don’t want to sacrifice comfort, a reflector can be a quick and inexpensive solution. But is this true in reality?
What difference does a reflective foil behind radiators make?
This energy-saving life hack can’t actually save you that much in heating costs – maybe about a nickel a month, if that. However, if your home gets particularly cold in the winter, the foil trick can help lower your bills a bit. What’s more, there’s even radiator foil that can be applied with heavy-duty wallpaper paste. However, this idea works best in older buildings that don’t have cavity wall insulation. Experts claim you can reduce heat loss by up to 30% that would otherwise be lost through your exterior wall. So the hack is only really effective on solid exterior walls without cavity wall insulation, but it’s still worth a try.
Should you use prefabricated panels or aluminum foil behind radiators?
Some argue that homemade insulation using conventional aluminum foil is less effective over time because the material oxidizes, wrinkles easily, and therefore becomes less reflective of thermal radiation. As a downside, this would mean that you would have to replace such an insulation material every few years as it loses efficiency. While you would have to put a little more effort into it, the upfront cost is less.
Whether you choose the DIY variety or buy custom-made reflective foil panels, it’s still a great short-term hack for your home to warm living spaces more efficiently and lower your gas or electric bill. However, there are many other ways to save on heating costs and lower energy bills. For starters, you can move your furniture away from your radiators, not hang clothes over your radiators, and hang some thermal curtains over your windows. In addition, the windows themselves can also be insulated to keep the heat inside. You can also make homemade draft stoppers and snuggle up with a hot water bottle.
Why insulate the wall behind the heater?
Cast iron radiators are known for their incredible ability to provide even, comfortable heat. But if an old home is poorly insulated, much of the radiated energy will go directly outside. Don’t despair, however. Reflective films are an easy and inexpensive way to insulate walls behind radiators and reflect heat back into your living space. In fact, radiator reflectors (also called radiant barriers, radiator insulation films) insulate behind the units and “radiate” heat back into the room.
According to experts, you can save up to 25% on heating costs in homes with good wall insulation. In poorly insulated homes, radiator reflectors can save about 8%. In fact, the best insulator behind the radiator is an aluminum sheet on the wall behind the radiator. This reflects heat back into the room instead of letting it escape unnecessarily through the walls of the house. DIYers recommend wrapping the sheet around cut pieces of cardboard for easy installation.
How do you install aluminum foil behind radiators yourself?
DIY radiator insulation can actually be quite simple, requiring no special tools or prior knowledge on your part. Here are some simple steps you can follow
- First, measure the width and height of your radiator.
- Then, determine how far you want the foil to extend over the top and sides. For open spaces like living rooms and dining rooms, it’s a good idea to cut the reflective foil for the heater just below the dimensions of the radiator so it’s not visible to guests.
- Then cut the insulating material with scissors.
- Then apply adhesive by placing the reflective foil on the floor with the back side facing up. You can also use double-sided tape, spray adhesive or staples, for example. In addition, some even use wallpaper paste. Just make sure the glue has dried before you turn the radiators back on.
- If you’re not sure if a particular adhesive will work, apply it behind a single radiator and wait a few days to make sure it sticks before applying the rest of the reflectors.
- Now you can easily apply aluminum foil behind radiators in your living spaces this way.
- Finally, mount them flush with the wall. The aluminum should not come into contact with the radiator, otherwise it will not work optimally.
- If your arm won’t fit between your radiator and the wall, you can use a broom, ruler, or even a mop to attach the foil.
Why not cover the radiators with foil?
Do you want to cover your radiators for safety, aesthetic reasons or to use the space underneath? Better think again before you do. While these reasons for buying radiator covers may sound good, the truth is that installing a cover will affect the efficiency of the equipment. In addition, such radiator covers can block radiated heat. When you cover your radiators, you directly prevent them from heating your space, and you also limit their efficiency by blocking the flow of heat.