Do radiator reflectors work?

Radiator reflectors work on a very simple principle. You radiator radiates heat both into the room, and into the wall behind it. That heat can simply be lost to the outside, especially if you have thin single skin walls. Reflectors are installed behind the radiator and help prevent that heat from being lost by reflecting the heat back into the room.

Why shouldn’t you use foil for radiator reflectors?

There are a couple of reasons to use an approved material like Radflek. This approved material does not crinkle and crease like standard kitchen foil – it stays shiny and flat, in the ideal position to reflect heat. Foil can also oxidise over time as it is exposed to the environment, and this reduces its reflective properties, whereas radiator reflectors are treated with a chemical to prevent oxidisation. Putting kitchen foil behind the radiator is a false economy, as its effectiveness will be severely limited by these effects over time.


Homemade foil radiator reflectors crinkle easily and oxidise, losing their reflective qualities.

Which radiators work with radiator reflectors?

The walls where Radflek will make the most difference is in exposed areas of the property where the radiator is situated on an exterior wall. Internal walls are not heat loss walls, and therefore you won’t save any heat by installing reflectors there. Party walls between properties normally don’t need reflectors either, unless your next door neighbours don’t heat the house, or there is no one living there!

The type of radiator itself is usually unimportant, as reflectors will work with almost any radiator, as long as there is a space to fit the reflector in behind it.

How much difference do radiator reflectors make?

There was a BRE report considering Radflek radiator reflectors recently. The breakdown is very interesting:

Type of Property Savings per radiator / yr (0.6sqm) Payback (Years)
Insulated Cavity Walls £0.80 3.7
Post 1983 Cavity Walls £1.32 2.3
1976-82 Cavity Walls £1.91 1.6
Pre 1976 Cavity Walls £2.75 1.1
Uninsulated Solid Walls £4.02 0.7

These figures are taken from an independent body’s research and we can see that the savings although small, stack up very well when you consider the low cost of the Radflek. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it makes sense for pretty much anyone to install Radflek, even those with well insulated cavity walls – the installation is so easy and the payback reasonably good, so there is no reason not to.

It really does pay to have radiator reflectors!

If you have 5 radiators on exposed walls in your property, you could be looking at savings of about £20 a year, that is payback in under 2 years. Even in a well insulated property, you would save around £5 a year paying back in 6-8 years.

With many other efficiency measures, you could be put off by looks, difficulty to install, or upfront cost. Radflek costs just £21.99 for a 3 radiator pack, is a simple DIY installation, and isn’t noticeable once installed correctly. Even better, GreenAge readers can get an exclusive 20% discount using offer code TGA20.

Think we missed something? Do you have a different opinion?

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