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A simple trick to save money on your energy bills this winter

There is quite a lot of chatter in the TFS office about the virtues of putting tin foil behind your radiators at home to keep your home warm and save money on your energy bills. So we thought we’d share our findings with you.

The principle behind the idea is that tin foil reflects the heat and bounces it back into the room, rather than the heat being lost to the wall and beyond. It is only really effective on radiators that are attached to external walls, because in the case of external walls you are losing heat to your garden or other outside space which is colder than your house (and heat always travels to a cold place). Radiators on Internal walls or walls that you share with another house – as in the case of a semi-detached or terrace houses won’t save you money or make your house warmer.

If you have an external wall that isn’t insulated already this simple trick can make your home warmer and some websites quote up to a 15% saving on your heating. If you have wall insulation you won’t see quite the same results.

A number of websites and hardware stores sell specialist foil on rolls or sheets and you can cut it to size. It’s not expensive – a quick check on Screwfix and we found a 4m roll for £5.99. Wilko, Homebase, Amazon and other places also sell it. You don’t need to take the radiator off the wall to fit the foil – it can slot in behind and be stuck to the wall with double sided tape.

Lots of people online are using regular tin foil that you buy to cover food. This is even cheaper but we offer some words of caution, because whilst radiators don’t reach great temperatures there is always a risk.

Other top tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your radiators include making sure there are no obstructions covering them such as curtains. Thick curtains are great at keeping heat in a room and sealing off the windows, especially at night – just make sure they aren’t covering your radiator. Consider putting a thick curtain against an exterior door as well – especially if you have a single glazed, period door, as these lose a lot of heat.

Plug all those little holes that let out the warm air. Adding weather strips round the edges of windows and exterior doors helps. Plug your chimneys – but don’t forget to unplug them before you light a fire! If you have gappy floorboards, skirting boards or around electrical/light sockets, you can fill these with a general household sealant. Finally, if you have single glazed windows, a cheap fix if you can’t afford to replace them with double glazing is to get window film. You can attach a thin sheet of special clear plastic to the inside of your window frame using double-sided tape, run a hairdryer over the plastic and it will shrink to size. The film will make the windows look cloudy so you may wish to pick the windows you glaze.

We highly recommend you compare prices of your energy supplier with their competitors to make sure you are on the best tariff. You can sign up to the Martin Lewis Cheap Energy Club via the Money Saving Expert website for free – it will take you a couple of minutes to enter the details of your current supplier and tariff and they will email you when there is a cheaper tariff available that is worth you switching to (usually when you can save around £150 a year)

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