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News, tips and tricks about SpeedComfort

20 August 2020

Radiator Shelves and SpeedComfort

Although radiators are vital to keeping a warm home in the UK, one of the greatest issues with them is that they don’t actually do a very good job of it a lot of the time. There are several suggested solutions to this; fitting radiator reflector foils, installing radiator fans and perhaps the most low-tech suggestion and common myth, putting a plank of wood above the radiator, otherwise known as a radiator shelf.


Radiator shelves are just that – shelves that sit above a radiator. They may be attached to the wall or fit on brackets that slot behind the radiator. They supposedly help improve the efficiency of a radiator by passively deflecting heat from the radiator out into the room. As 80% of heat emitted from a radiator is convected up towards the ceiling, it does seem sensible to block this from happening and shift this heat in your direction. But can a simple shelf really have this power?

 

Some reports have found radiator shelves can save a minimal £5-10 a year on heating bills. However, radiator manufacturers claim that radiator shelves actually reduce the heat output of the radiator by around 5%, making them even less efficient. This drop in heat output may even account for the £5-10 a year that could be knocked off your heating bill. 

Effectively, the radiator shelf introduces turbulence to the warm air plume, slowing it down and reducing the heat output of the radiator.

 

If you are still keen to install a radiator shelf for the aesthetic then think about investing in a SpeedComfort to fit to the radiator in question as it will keep the air moving effectively around your radiator and spreading the warmth throughout your room.

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3 March 2020

Is it best to keep your heating on all day or just for a few hours?

This is a hotly debated question, even amongst plumbers and heating engineers. Which is the most efficient way to heat your home, keeping the heating constantly on low or only switching it on when cold? There are pros and cons to both options.

 

No home is 100% insulated; there will always be a small amount of heat leaking out of your home. Keeping your central heating on all the time means there will always be a small amount of energy escaping from your home. This will be felt more in a poorly insulated home, as the boiler will need to expend more energy to maintain the indoor heat. 

 

However, if you only switch the heating on when you need it, for just a few hours a day, the boiler has to work harder to heat the house from cold than it does to maintain a constant heat. Turning the heating off, letting the air cool down, causes the air to deposit water droplets in the form of condensation. If this collects within the walls, it causes heat to leak more quickly losing more energy. There are ways around this, take a look at our blog post on condensation to learn more. 

 

When is it best to turn the heating on and off?

In most cases, it will be cheaper to only put the heating on when you need it on; there is no sense in heating an empty house. Although, it really does vary from house to house which is the most energy-efficient. 

 

When is it best to have the heating on all the time?

Aside from the energy aspects of the debate, keeping the heating on all the time instead of waiting until it is needed, means you will never be cold. If your house is well insulated it may actually be better to keep the heating on low constantly.

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26 February 2020

How to bleed your radiators

Over time, air can become trapped inside your radiators. This means that the radiator doesn’t heat you or the room as well as it should. If you think that a room in your house is colder than it used to be, there’s a good chance that the radiator needs bleeding. It’s a good idea to bleed your radiators a couple of times a year.

 

Getting back some warmth

The first thing you will need to do is make sure you have the right tools for the job, namely a radiator key and an old towel or cloth. If you don’t have a radiator key it is possible to use a pair of pliers carefully, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Radiator keys are cheap and widely available in hardware stores and online.

 

You can check each radiator to see which ones need bleeding, but we generally just bleed them all for good measure and it’s safer to do so when the central heating is off and the radiators are cool. The radiator that is most likely to need bleeding is the highest one in the house, in most cases, this is the towel rail in the upstairs bathroom.

 

At the top of each radiator will be a square bolt, usually on the right-hand side, this is where you attach the radiator key and carefully release the screw thread. It’s best at this point to cover your hand and the key with the old towel or cloth to avoid the water from the system squirting out. Unscrew the bolt slowly and carefully as often the water in the central heating system will be pretty dirty so you want to make sure you can soak it up as it comes out.

 

If the radiator is full of air you will hear a hissing sound as the air is released until eventually water starts dribbling out, this is when the radiator has been fully bled and you can tighten up the screw again.


One last step

 If there has been a lot of air in your radiators you may find that you need to recharge the pressure in your central heating system. You do this at your boiler by opening the pressurizing tap on the filling loop, the filling loop is usually directly under the pressure gauge. If you can’t find it then it may be best to look at your boiler manual or search on Google for your boiler manual if you can’t find it... this bit is a bit tricky but not impossible to do yourself. If you're in any doubt track down a friendly plumber.

 

If you haven’t bled your radiators for a while you should notice a significant improvement in how warm your house feels and if that’s not enough why not check out the SpeedComfort!

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21 November 2019

Why does my central heating make a banging or knocking noise?

Less common now than it was 20 years ago, central heating knocking or banging is still very annoying. There are three main causes of banging:

 

1. Air bubbles trapped in the water of your central heating system expanding and collapsing can cause clicking noise. The best way to solve this is to use a radiator bleed key to release the air from the system. Turn your heating off, wait 10 minutes or so for the bubble to collect at the top of the radiators and then let it out with the key. You may have to do this a few time over the course of a few hours to get all the air out.

 

2. As the pipes in your house heat up they will expand, this expansion causes the pipes to move and warp very slightly. If they are resting against something hard this slight movement will generate popping noises as the pipes expand against the surface of the object. If the object is a piece of furniture then you can either move the furniture slightly or put a foam pad between them. Sometimes the noise comes from pipes that have been run through wooden joists, this can be very annoying to fix and may require you (or ideally your plumber) to expand the hole that the pipes are in and then fill the gap with expanding foam.

 

3. The most serious and least likely cause is boiler kettling, this happens in hard water areas where limescale builds up in the boiler's heat exchanger and constricts/blocks the flow of water. As the pressure builds up the water turns in to steam, when these steam bubbles collapse and turn back into water you get a rumbling/banging sound - to fix this you need to call out a heating engineer.

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21 November 2019

Why are radiator always under windows?!

I am sure I am not the first person who has wondered why on earth radiators are always placed under windows?!  It seems like such an idiotic place to put them, for a start the heat from the radiator escapes to the outside, or is cooled by drafts and this is only made worse in the evening if the curtains are drawn, just when you need that valuable heat the most!


One of the biggest misunderstandings about radiators is that they actually radiate very little of the heat that they emit, on average a central heating radiator will radiate about 20% of the heat and the remaining 80% is convected via a plume of warm air emitted from the top of the radiator.  Sadly, this means that all of this heat is then convected up to the ceiling and in many homes the temperature difference between sofa height and the ceiling can be over 2oC, ie the ceiling is 2oC warmer than you sitting on your sofa.

And remember, you are paying for that heat!


So why place the radiators under windows? Put simply, the cool air coming from the window falls on to the rising warm air from the radiator and pushes the warm air out into the room.

The problem nowadays is that since most houses have had their windows replaced with double glazing, there is no longer that same cool air coming from the window to help mix up the heat in the room and therefore the heat from your radiator is convected straight up to the ceiling, where it stays.


So, while double glazing is definitely a good thing, perhaps it’s time we moved our radiators...or you could just buy a SpeedComfort to help spread the warmth more effectively :)

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21 November 2019

How do radiator reflectors work?

Radiator reflectors are shiny sheets that sit behind your radiator. They are designed to prevent heat radiated from the radiator becoming lost into the wall by reflecting this heat back into the room.

 

The heat radiated from a radiator travels in infrared waves. These waves are small enough to become absorbed by the wall. Reflector foils have a much smaller lattice structure than a wall so infrared waves are reflected rather than absorbed. Ordinary tin foil also has this property but would not be as effective for as long as radiator reflector foils because the surface of tin foil oxidizes on exposure to air, meaning over time it will lose the shiny surface and its reflective properties. 

 

Radiators only radiate 20% of the heat they give out. Of this small percentage, 10% goes out of the front, where you would want it to go and the rest radiates from the back of the radiator. This is the heat that has a chance to be reflected by radiator reflector foils. But what about the other 80% of heat? That heat is convected. It rises from the top of the radiator and gets trapped at the ceiling. A SpeedComfort can help solve this issue by sitting on top of the radiator and redirecting heat into the room. If you want to recover as much heat as possible from your radiator, then we'd recommend coupling radiator reflector foils with SpeedComfort ;)

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20 August 2020

3 steps to get more heat out of your radiators without spending £££

If radiators are left unloved for a number of years, then they can sometimes lose some of their heating power. If you want to reinvigorate your radiators and get some more heat out of them, without having to spend too much money, then we’d recommend the following steps.


1. Radiator Brush

Over time dust, dirt and cobwebs etc can build up in your radiators, this slows down the airflow through the radiator and reduces its efficiency. Radiator brushes can be bought for less than a tenner online to make it easier to brush out all this dust.


 

You may need to remove the radiator grilles and it is probably a good idea to keep a vacuum cleaner handy as it will create a bit of a dust cloud if your radiators haven’t been cleaned in a while.

 

2. Reflector Foil

Placing a reflective foil behind your radiator will help make sure that you are not losing too much radiated heat to the wall behind your radiator (although only 20% of a radiator’s heat is radiated… the majority 80% is convected, they should really be called convectionators)



Radiator reflector foils can be bought very cheaply from DIY stores or online, however, tinfoil can also work although it will oxidise over time and lose some of its effectiveness.

 

3. Bleed Your Radiators

Over time, air can become trapped inside your radiators. This means that the radiator doesn’t heat you or the room as well as it should.

 

At the top of each radiator will be a square bolt where you attach the radiator key and carefully release the screw thread. It’s best at this point to cover your hand and the key with an old towel or cloth to avoid water from the system squirting out. Unscrew the bolt slowly and carefully as often the water in the central heating system will be pretty dirty so you want to make sure you can soak it up as it comes out.


 

If the radiator is full of air you will hear a hissing sound as the air is released until eventually water starts dribbling out, this is when the radiator has been fully bled and you can tighten up the screw again.

 

If you have done the above and would still like a bit more warmth, then consider investing in a SpeedComfort :)

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20 August 2020

How to prepare your home for winter

With winters seeming to get longer and colder, and heating bills getting higher, now is a good time to prepare your home for the oncoming cold weather. Here are a few simple tips that will really make a difference in how warm your home is this winter.


1. Draught Proofing

This is definitely the most effective way to make sure your home stays warm this winter and it is really easy to do yourself. It’s best to start looking for draughts on a windy day as you should be able to physically feel the air whistling through the gaps. If you can’t seem to find them then you can always use a small tealight candle to help see the air movement (mind the curtains though if you do).

The most obvious places to start looking are anywhere where there is an opening through your external walls, windows and doors are the major offenders but you can also get draughts from around plumbing pipes, waste pipes from the toilet, extractor fans and even your TV aerial cable!

Another major culprit for draughts is from underneath your internal window sills, there is often a gap between the wall and the sill and it is definitely worth making sure these are filled in.

You will need to plug the gaps in these holes where the air is getting in and the easiest way to do this is with a tube of sealant or decorators caulk. If the gaps are really large you may need expanding foam or even some plastering, but it might be best to call in a handyman at this point.


2. Window and Door Seals

Windows and doors are the obvious places for draughts to enter a house and it is likely that will be air gaps between the frame and the wall, these can be filled with the sealant or caulk as mentioned previously.

There could also be air leaks coming in between the frame and the door or window itself, this is where it’s useful to check that the seals that keep the weather out are in good order, as these can perish over time.

Replacing them is usually quite a straightforward job with draught-proofing strips easily available from you local DIY Superstore - often called P profile draught excluder. If your front door is wood construction it will also be worth fitting a brush strip to the bottom of the door. It is also worth getting covers for letterboxes and keyholes although these don’t always look great.


3. Loft Hatch

The loft hatch is another prime target for air leaks, most of us have now insulated our lofts to some extent but it is all too common to leave the loft hatch uninsulated and leaky. The first thing to do is check that your loft hatch is insulated. Next, check that there are seals between the hatch frame and the hatch and if there are that they are in good condition. Finally, check that there are no air gaps between the hatch frame and the ceiling, once again these can be filled with sealant or caulk.


4. Get your boiler serviced

If you have a boiler that is more than 3 years old, you should really have it serviced once a year. This will help avoid the boiler breaking down just when you really need it in midwinter and it should also help keep it running at top efficiency, saving you money on your heating bills. Having made this mistake myself I can promise that a boiler replacement in December is no fun!


5. Bleed your radiators

This is another really simple process that can make a real difference to how warm your home feels, for more information on how to bleed your radiators see this our previous blog post on 'How to Bleed Your Radiators'.


6. Chimneys

One of the most hidden, and worst, offenders for cold draughts are unused fireplaces that suck out all the heat and can make rooms nearly impossible to heat properly. Luckily there is a really easy fix to this problem in the Chimney Pillow. It’s basically a balloon that you inflate up your chimney to block the draughts and if you do want to use the fire, you can easily deflate it and remove it should you want to rekindle the fire in the future.

Hopefully, these tips should help to make your home warmer this winter and you never know, it might even save you some money on your heating bills!

 

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