Get more from your Personal Home Manager . . .
Home Care Library
Saving Money by Increasing Radiator Efficiency
Bleeding air out.
Adding a reflector against your wall.
Cleaning your radiators.
Checking for sludge build-up.
BLEEDING AIR OUT
One of the most common causes of poor performance of a hot water radiator is air trapped in the system. Over time, the repeated heating and then cooling back down of the water in your system causes air to be released from the water (helpful accessory: vacuum cleaners). And since air does not conduct heat as well as water, this trapped air reduces the energy efficiency of your radiator system. To eliminate the air, you should purge the air out of your radiators at the beginning of the heating season, and then whenever they seem to not be putting out as much heat as normal.
If you have baseboard radiators, air trapped in your system can make a “gurgling” sound when your system turns on. When you start hearing this sound, you should purge the air out of your system. For instructions on how to purge the air out of your baseboard heating system, you can see our video titled “Baseboard Heating 101".
If you have a wall style radiator, and if the top part of your radiator feels much cooler than the bottom part, then this is a good indicator that you need to bleed out trapped air. All radiators come with a special key called a “bleed” key. On the top of your radiator you will notice a protrusion called a “bleed valve.” Before you start, you will want to get a rag or a small bowl to catch any water than will drip out. Fit the bleed key into the bleed valve and slowly turn it counterclockwise until air starts escaping from the valve with a hissing sound. When water begins to dribble out, this indicates that all the air is purged. And you should now gently turn the bleed valve in the opposite direction to close it the way it was when you started.
ADDING A REFLECTOR AGAINST YOUR WALL
Placing a reflector panel between an outside wall and your radiator can improve the energy efficiency of your radiator by as much as 10-20%, by reducing heat loses to your outside walls. You can buy ready-made radiator reflectors, or you can make your own using aluminum foil (with the shiny side facing your radiator) and gluing it to a piece of cardboard, or better yet, to thin piece of stiff insulation such as Kingspan or Celotex.
CLEANING YOUR RADIATORS
When your radiator heats up, it causes the air around it to rise as it is heated, and this draws up dusty air from your floors. As the dust builds up on your radiators, this build-up acts like a layer of insulation, which reduces the heat transfer efficiency of your radiators. So to maximize the performance of your radiators, you should routinely remove this dust by vacuuming with a soft brush attachment, and wiping down the surfaces of wall style radiators (helpful accessory: heat barriers).
CHECKING FOR SLUDGE BUILD-UP
And lastly, if you have wall style radiators, over time you can get sludge build-up inside of your radiators which can significantly reduce their performance. To check for this, you can carefully touch along the bottom of your from radiator to see if you detect any cold spots. Be careful when you do this, so as not to burn your fingers. If you find any cold spots, this could indicate that you have sludge build-up, and will need to contact a professional to clean it out.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful, and that they enable you to reduce your energy costs this winter by improving the energy efficiency of your radiators.
Related Articles . . .
Where Your Home Energy Dollar GoesEver wonder where your energy dollars go in your home? This article shows you at-a-glance, so that you can focus on the areas that will give you the biggest bang-for-the-buck for reducing your home energy bill. more ▶
Why NOT to Get a Home Energy AuditHaving a home energy audit done by a qualified professional can show you how to reduce your home’s energy bill by up to a whopping 30%. But what are the reasons that you should NOT get a home energy audit? more ▶
Low-Cost Ways to Save Energy This WinterSome energy-saving projects take several years to pay back the cost of doing them. But here are six ways to save energy this winter, that will save you more than their cost in just one heating season! more ▶
Furnace Tips for Efficiency & SafetyThe cost of heating your home can be up to one-third of your home's energy bill. This article and video gives you 21 tips for saving money, improving safety, and extending the useful life of your furnace. more ▶
Using Window Treatments to Save EnergyWindow treatments enhance the decor of your home, but they can also play an important role in reducing your energy bill. This article describes how blinds, drapes, and shades can each save you money. more ▶
The Importance of Backflushing Your Water HeaterWould you like to save money on energy, prolong having to replace your water heater, plus improve its safety? Then just remember to ask your service professional to "Please backflush my water heater!" more ▶