Radiator Squirrel and radiator fans both work on the principle that radiator design is poor and hasn’t improved for decades. They both boost radiator output and the Squirrel can also be used throughout the home as an energy saving device typically with a 2 year payback.
Radiator fans can be fitted to radiators in order to blow hot air into a room. They are electric fans so they can be noisy but are very effective in making a room warmer. If the room has a thermostat then it may be turned down, which could bring about a saving on energy bills. The downside is that the other rooms in the house may become colder, which is where savings come from. You can avoid this problem by fitting radiator fans to the other rooms but this may become expensive both to purchase, and to run.
Comparison of a single medium sized radiator fan versus a single Radiator Squirrel:
The difference is noticeable, however, it becomes even more apparent in a comparison of a ‘typical’ 3 bedroom house fitted with a set of Squirrels or fans.
- All costs and payback accurate at date of publishing in May 2016 but may not be updated.
- Every effort has been made to make this information accurate but please do not take this comparison as financial guidance because individual circumstances will vary.
For a typical UK house, heating bills are around £800 or more, and they account for a whopping two thirds of the whole energy bill. Radiator Squirrel can reduce this by over £100/year.
Radiator Squirrel may be used like a conventional radiator fan to boost performance in a single room but at a lower cost and without the noise of an electric fan. But as with radiator fans, this may have the effect that ‘unboosted’ rooms can become cooler. Although this may save money, for maximum savings we recommend that a Squirrel should be fitted to all the main radiators in a house.
Once we had our patent under way we needed to have Radiator Squirrel’s performance independently verified by an institution specialising in energy management in buildings, and this led us to London South Bank University to get the Squirrel tested.
London South Bank University (LSBU) was established as the Borough Polytechnic Institute in 1892, making it one of London’s oldest Universities. Among its seven schools is the internationally renowned School of the Built Environment and Architecture.
Dr Issa Chaer, Course Director at the school, has been leading the LSBU team in researching the Radiator Squirrel. Issa is a Chartered Engineer with a PhD in Heat Transfer and a profound knowledge in energy and heating. His specialist fields are energy conversion and energy management including alternative and renewable technologies, energy conversion, and novel techniques to reduce energy demand.
Once testing was underway it soon became apparent that Radiator Squirrel was having an immediate and significant effect, and this was highlighted when heating costs were reduced by 11.5% under test conditions. It was also found that our Squirrel was producing other benefits such as by decreasing the time taken to achieve comfort, and LSBU are still looking into this.
Here are some top tips that make a big difference to heating bills – we chose some very effective but less obvious ones you might not have seen before. They are easy to DIY and can be done straight away without spending money. We hope they are self-explanatory but if not please tweet/DM us at: @energy_squirrel
1. Clean your radiators. Yes, honestly, this is really important & can make a dramatic difference if you have panel radiators more than a few years old because they can get ‘gummed up’ and be very costly to run. We aren’t talking about the radiator fronts – you will need to shove a duster on a stick down all the vertical vents behind single panel radiators and between the double panel ones (you may need to pop the grill off the top). These vents fill up with dust and cobwebs that will prevent the air from warming up. A clean radiator will work much faster and take less time to warm you up = lower bills because the boiler will be on for less time. If you don’t have a suitable duster on a stick it is easy to improvise.
2. Trickle vents. A lot of (more modern) double glazing units have features called ‘trickle vents’ in the window frames. These allow air to flow through the window frame even when the windows are shut as they are designed to provide ventilation and prevent condensation. However, if you have them and they are open they can be shut on cold days to prevent waste heat. Don’t forget to open them up again when it’s comfortable to do so.
3. Don’t cover your radiators. OK, they are great at drying your towels but more than half of the heat from a radiator comes from the top third so if you cover up the top of your radiator it will take longer to heat your room = bigger bills. Put the towels elsewhere.
4. Check your radiators. Once a month or so feel the top of your radiators while your heating is running. If they aren’t all getting hot there may be a fault = bigger heating bills. A fault may be as simple as air in the system that needs bleeding but there may be a bigger problem. But you won’t know without checking.
5. Bleed your radiators. Do it at least once a year at the start of the cold season to make sure your radiators are working effectively = lower bills. If you find the regular keys difficult to use there are easy bleed devices readily available.
Heating your rooms uses more energy than everything else you do at home.
It’s funny, because when you ask people about their homes energy consumption they tend to think about electricity. We’ve all been banged over the head for “leaving the lights on” and about “turning things off at the wall” but the truth is that electricity use represents just 15% of the average homes energy bill.
Whilst it’s obviously important to be aware of your electricity use, it’s naturally harder to understand exactly how much energy you’re spending on central heating because most of the time you can’t see it! Gas bills are notoriously hard to make any sense of and although clever thermostats like the Nest and Heat Genius help people control the temperature of their rooms with greater accuracy the quantity of energy most heating systems use is not something of which we are even vaguely aware.
Smart meters, and other visual energy displays rarely help either, since they focus on displaying information about your electricity consumption. But the fact is, on average, over 65% is spent on heating up the air.
The chart above shows home energy demand according to use. It is based on modelling from government data because every home is different. However everyone agrees that heating rooms (yellow/red) uses the lion’s share.
So, when the subject is home energy consumption, the elephant in the room is hiding in the air, which is why we are working on products like Radiator Squirrel, to bring down this huge slice of domestic energy usage by saving you energy, carbon emissions and money at the same time.
When we first tested Radiator Squirrel as a prototype we saw some very exciting results in terms of how much faster we were able to warm a room up. Whilst there are obvious benefits in reaching comfort levels much quicker (the heating time reduced by over 40%) we needed reputable verification on the implications on energy bills and carbon footprint. This led us initially to the Caparo Innovation Centre who assess and assist in evaluating initial product concepts under 2 of their cleantech initiatives; BECCI and IPSS:
- BECCI (Built Environment Climate Change Innovations) provides business analysis of potential new products and the markets they will compete in. BECCI specialises in products that reduce carbon usage within existing housing stock.
- IPSS is the Innovative Product Support Service which also supports innovative low carbon concepts but by providing a technical analysis. Their initial view on Radiator Squirrel was that, ‘it has to work, it can’t do anything else’.
Both IPSS & BECCI have provided us with some great initial advice and we were convinced to take Radiator Squirrel to the next stage by submitting our patent application and developing it from prototype to product. For this we consulted with the wise folk of London South Bank University (LSBU) who specialise not just in energy saving technology but also in supporting innovative businesses. We initially engaged LSBU to carry out some specialist independent testing and research, and the relationship soon developed such that LSBU are now providing an invaluable array of support including market research, grant programmes, and business advice. Not to mention promoting that life blood of business; Networking.