The Best Radiator Reflectors
Everything you need to know about radiator reflectors
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Radiator reflectors are advertised as a cheap and straightforward way to reduce your heating bills.
With the current cost of living crisis and skyrocketing energy prices, more and more people are installing these reflectors.
But do they work? Can you realistically make a saving?
Are they easy to install, and how much do they cost?
Can you make a cheaper DIY alternative?
I’ve researched these products and purchased a pack of reflectors from a leading manufacturer for testing purposes.
Let’s take a closer look.
What the Manufacturers Claim
Manufacturers often state that these reflectors can reduce heat loss through the external wall by reflecting the heat back into the property.
Claims of “45%” or “95%” are often advertised, but it’s worth remembering that these figures only refer to the heat loss through the wall behind the radiator, not the entire wall, and certainly not the entire room.
Also, they work best on solid walls and uninsulated cavity walls. They are less effective when fitted in homes with insulated cavity walls.
What’s in the Box
I purchased a 3-pack radiator reflector kit from Radflek – a leading manufacturer whose product is recommended by the Energy Saving Trust.
I paid £24 in October 2022 for this set.
Inside the box, I found:
- 3 x foil sheets (thicker than tinfoil but still flexible).
- Joining strips.
- Plastic support bars.
I found that installing the radiator reflectors couldn’t be easier, and it only took me a few minutes.
I first took the measurements and cut the foil insulation material to the desired length with a pair of scissors.
I then attached the material to the support pole and hung it behind the radiator.
The radiator brackets supported the pole, and I didn’t need to use tools such as drills or screwdrivers. In fact, the only tool I used was a pair of scissors.
The image below is from Radflek and shows how it’s installed:
The radiator reflector is barely visible from the front and only visible when viewed directly from above.
On my radiator, it doesn’t interfere with any clothes that are hung on it.
Results: Did it Make a Difference?
I work from home often and I have my heating on every day in the winter so I have a good idea of how long each room takes to warm up.
My office is particularly cold and takes a long time to warm up as the external wall is north-facing and gets little sunlight.
Since installing the radiator reflector, I have noticed the following:
- The room warms up quicker.
- The wall behind the radiator and reflector is cooler.
- When I switch off the central heating, the room stays warmer for slightly longer, presumably from residual heat from the radiator being reflected back into the room.
Are Radiator Reflectors Worth The Investment?
I used to work in the construction industry, so I know a thing or two about insulation.
Here’s who I think will benefit from radiator reflectors the most:
Those in homes with solid walls: Solid walls are notoriously cold, and I 100% recommend radiator reflectors to anyone living in a house with uninsulated solid walls. Why waste money heating the street when you can keep the heat in the room?
Those with unfilled cavity walls: Cavity walls work best when they are filled with insulation, but some homes aren’t suitable for cavity wall insulation – such as those in windswept rain-prone locations. Consider radiator reflectors if your property has cavity walls, but you haven’t filled the void with insulation.
Tenants: Are you a tenant with a landlord who doesn’t want to invest in loft or wall insulation upgrades? Consider radiator reflectors; they’re cheap, easy to install, can be taken to your next home, and you won’t be investing in a property you don’t own.
Homes with filled cavity walls: If your property has a cavity wall that’s already filled with insulation, then the savings you’ll make from radiator reflectors will be far lower. Consider them if you can’t afford more loft insulation or better windows, or perhaps you just want to maximise savings.
How Long Until You Get Your Money Back
I’ve done a few calculations based on the size of my property, assuming that all the radiators on external walls have radiator reflectors fixed behind them.
Here’s how long I believe it will take to get back the money I invested in radiator reflectors:
Filled cavity wall: 1-2 years.
Unfilled cavity wall: Less than 1 year or 1 winter.
Solid walls: Less than 6 months.
(My estimates above are based on current gas rates as of October 2022)
A Quote From Paul Farley
Paul Farley regularly fact-checks our content and also provides us with his opinion on products and services we review.
This is what Paul told us about radiator reflectors:
If you asked me about radiator reflectors a few years ago, I would have told you that yes they do work but the savings are so negligible that they aren’t worth the time.
However, with the current cost of living crisis and skyrocketing utility bills, I’ve re-evaluated that assessment and now believe they are worth the outlay if you have solid or unfilled cavity walls.
The jury is still out on whether they will make much of a difference to walls that are already insulated (i.e. filled cavity walls) but I’m still confident you’ll get your investment back within a few years.
The Bottom Line on Radiator Reflectors
- They work very well on solid and unfilled cavity walls.
- Their effect on well-insulated walls is low but you’ll probably still get your money back within a few years.
- They are cheap (I paid £24 for 4 radiators).
- I found them very easy to install and they’re barely visible.
Alternatives: Is Tin Foil Effective?
Tin foil is an obvious alternative but there are a few issues:
- It’s expensive.
- It’s far thinner and more I believe it would be more difficult to work with.
- It’s not as effective and will need a middle insulation layer or at least several layers.
- You’ll need to make your own support bar to hold it up.
Given the price of Radflek and similar products on the market, I don’t think DIY solutions are worth the time and money.
How to Make Savings With Insulation + More
If you’re looking for the best ways to reduce your heating bills, then radiator insulation is a great place to start but there are other things you can do.
Loft insulation should be a minimum of 270mm thick; any less than this, and you’re wasting heat. As warm air rises, start by topping up loft insulation to between 270mm and 400mm to trap the heat in your home.
Cavity wall insulation shouldn’t cause dampness in a home if installed correctly and can significantly reduce heat loss.
Double, triple and secondary glazing are worthwhile investments if you own the home and plan to stay in it long-term.
Boiler upgrades: New boilers are far more efficient than older ones, and you can save significantly by upgrading your boiler.
Central heating powerflushing will remove debris, rust and anything else clogging the pipes and radiators. If your radiators are slow to warm up or have lots of cold spots, consider powerflushing.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
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