Homeowners urged not to put tinfoil behind radiators to save money

Edwina Currie discusses putting foil behind radiators

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With energy bills on the rise, homeowners are doing everything they can to save money on their utility costs including trying DIY alternatives. One of the ways people are trying to save cash is by putting foil behind their radiators. The idea is to put tinfoil behind the radiator so the heating will reflect heat back into the room rather than it seeping through the walls.

In theory, the foil should make rooms warmer while ensuring there’s less energy wastage and therefore smaller energy bills. However, experts have warned the hack doesn’t work using ordinary tinfoil or in properties with cavity wall insulation.

Quotezone.co.uk’s energy-saving expert Jack Ferguson has shared why homeowners should not use the tinfoil hack and which energy-saving myths are false.

Jack said homeowners need to ask themselves three questions before testing out a DIY method to save money on their energy bills. He said: “When reviewing home energy usage, we recommend you ask yourself some simple questions; firstly, do I really need to use it? Or is there a cheaper way?

“Remember – if it moves, lights up, or creates heat then it uses energy. Secondly, is the energy-saving tip safe? Letting heat from the oven into the home could be dangerous if you have young kids and pets running around – always think safety first.

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“Finally and quite crucially, can I make it a household habit? Experts will give you different answers on how long it takes to create a habit, but the more times you repeat a behaviour, the more likely it is to stick.

“So, make a list, share it with your household – even pop reminders on devices to help make those money-saving habits second nature.”

Does tinfoil behind radiators save money?

According to Jack, “not for long”. Ordinary tinfoil is made from very thin rolled aluminium which becomes dull as it oxidises, “reducing its effectiveness quickly”.

He added: “Radiators only give off around 20 percent radiant heat, the other 80 percent is actually convection heat which will not be reflected anyway.

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“There are a variety of specialist reflective radiator panels on the market which are good for older homes, however, if you already have cavity wall insulation then it’s less likely you will make any significant savings with these.”

Washing clothes at lower temperatures does not clean clothes properly?

Jack said this is not the case despite what some experts suggest. Manufacturers of washing powders and liquids have designed them to work effectively at lower temperatures.

Most of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water, so lower temperatures will save homeowners money as the washing machine won’t have to heat up the water.

Some items like bedding, towels or underwear may need a high-temperature wash but for most items you shouldn’t need those expensive, energy-guzzling programmes.

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Is it better to leave the heating on all day?

This is a common question asked by homeowners when temperatures drop and the heating needs to be switched on. Jack said “usually” it’s not better to leave the heating on all day.

However, he also said “it depends” on the type of property and on homeowners’ habits.

He said: “If you live in a modern well insulated home and have people home all day, then it can make sense to keep it on – but try turning the temperature down a little and wear some extra layers to help save some money.

If your property is not well insulated, then it is wise to only use the heating when the property is occupied – otherwise, the heat you are paying for will have escaped before you get any benefit from it.”

Tumble dryers should be avoided

It is probably the most feared appliance in the home at the moment as most people think it costs a fortune to run. However, given the UK’s damp, rainy and cold climate, most Britons may need to use a tumble dryer to get laundry turned around quickly, especially for those with large families.

Jack suggested trying to use a clothesline outdoors when possible but if you must use the tumble dryer, think about the time of day you’re using it.

If you have solar panels, then aim for the peak periods around noon, or if you have off-peak electricity (e.g. economy 7) try to use it then – some appliances have a handy timer function which can help.

Jack added: “Modern tumble dryers have sensor functions, try to use these as they will stop once the moisture levels are low – rather than running for a set time even if the clothes are already dry.

“With any appliance, regularly check it is functioning properly (check the user manual), register it with the manufacture in case there are safety recalls, and it is advisable to have a smoke alarm in the same room.”

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