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5 steps to radiator efficiency

Piggy Bank On Radiator

When it comes to keeping your home warm, your radiators play a vital role, so it goes without saying that their efficiency is of the utmost importance. As more of us feel the pinch thanks to the rising cost of living, your radiators might hold the key to warmth and saving money too! 

Taking care of your radiators may also save you the expense and inconvenience of calling out a Gas Safe registered engineer while ensuring that you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your heating system.

But where should you begin? We’ve put together this list of 5 handy tips to help you improve your home’s radiator efficiency with minimal effort and expense.

Why you should take care of your radiators

When you have a car, you take it for an annual M.O.T to ensure it’s working to its full potential – so why wouldn’t you do the same for your heating system? Just like your set of wheels, failure to identify and solve an issue in your radiators could cost you dearly in the long run.

With energy prices rising, inflation on the up and many people making the tough decision between heating or eating, it’s a smart choice to take small steps to ensure your radiators are working to their optimum efficiency.

1. Clean your radiators

Now, keeping your radiators clean may seem like a no-brainer, both for efficiency and pride, but many people overlook the various parts of a radiator and where they should be cleaning to ensure optimum performance.  

We’re not talking about the surface of the radiator, you know, the bit your visitors see, but the in-between panels and even the interior of your radiators.  

Cat Watching Radiator Being Cleaned

As we all know, dust on the front panels of our radiators is easy enough to clean up – it's nothing a cloth, sponge, or duster can’t solve. But if you own standard convector radiators, convection currents can cause the fins at the back of your radiators to fill up with much more than dust.  

If you’re a pet owner, this problem only heightens. You’ll likely find pet hair, furballs, and all manner of other dusty elements at the back of your radiators - preventing them from emanating heat. These buildups can create an insulating layer that stop heat escaping, making your radiators work less efficiently and costing you more money.

Thankfully, there are some tricks you can use to remove this dust from between the fins of the radiator, but our favourite is the hairdryer trick.   

How to do the hairdryer hack

Before you start: it’s a smart idea to lay down an old sheet, towel, or blanket underneath the radiator - this will help collect dust and protect your flooring.

  1. Firstly, start by pointing the nozzle of your hairdryer down the back of your radiator, in the space between the appliance and the wall.  
  2. Set the hairdryer to its highest cool setting to force  out the dust, sending it to collect on your protective sheet on the floor.  
  3. Finally, pick up your sheet or blanket and give it a good shake outside. You can then vacuum up any last morsels of dust on the floor.  
Hairdryer On White Background

2. Don't block your radiators

Whether it’s a sofa, curtains, or another piece of furniture, blocking your radiators is a guaranteed way to limit their performance. 

If you have a radiator under a window, it’s tempting to close the curtains and leave the radiators behind them – but this would be a big mistake!  

To ensure you get as much heat as possible from your radiators, try placing the bottom of your curtains on top of the window ledge instead of over the rads. Also, make sure to tie them back when open.  

Removing obstacles between your room and your radiators will mean that the heat from the top of your radiators is not blocked or forced to escape through any gaps in your window frame.  

Radiator Blocked By Curtain

3. Bleed your radiators

Trapped air in your heating system is a common issue that can cause havoc with your radiators. This problem can be difficult to spot, but thankfully, it’s simple to remedy and a surefire way to improve your radiator efficiency.

For more information make sure you read our handy guide on on how to bleed your radiators.

Bleeding Your Radiator

4. Balance your radiators

In addition to keeping them free of dust and bleeding your radiators, ensuring your heating system is balanced is vital to optimum performance. 

Balancing your heating system guarantees that each of your radiators heat up consistently and evenly, meaning your system is operating at its most effective level.

To balance a radiator, close all the valves on each of your radiators. Follow this up by turning each valve back on by a small amount, working from the closest to your boiler first.

You should notice that the valve nearest to your boiler requires turning a quarter to open, then the next a little more, before you eventually reach the radiators furthest away from your boiler, which should be fully opened.

Using this method can help you avoid the radiator closest to your boiler from being burning hot, and the one furthest away from being lukewarm.

Using A Wrench On A Radiator

5. Check your boiler pressure regularly

Though the ins and outs of your plumbing system can be complex, the principles of how it works are fairly simple. Hot water is heated by your boiler and then pumped around your home via your radiators. The heat is then transferred to the air through the means of convection, creating a toasty temperature.

Your boiler pressure plays a vital role in this process, as poor boiler pressure will cause your radiators to not fill up sufficiently, meaning they won't heat up.

Check the pressure gauge on your boiler. Ideally, it should be sitting between 1.2 and 1.5 bar to provide the correct level of pressure. If your boiler pressure is above 1.5 bar, it might be a sign that there’s too much pressure in your system, and you need to bleed one or more radiators to relieve the issue.

Checking Your Boiler Pressure