Do radiator covers reduce efficiency?

Radiator Cover

If designed well, with plenty of spaces for the warm air to travel through, a radiator cover shouldn’t have a negative effect on the efficiency of a radiator, according to builder and Telegraph contributor Jeff Howell.This is important to bear in mind if you plan to DIY a cover yourself as a poorly designed version could make it harder for your radiator to heat a room – costing you money in the form of energy bills.


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In their guide to radiator cover ideas for the home Best Heating suggest that whilst the BTU (British Thermal Units, the unit in which radiator efficiency is measured) can’t be changed by the addition of a radiator cover, the obstruction could stop warm air from being so evenly distributed. Radiators heat a room through convection – warm air rises from the radiator to the ceiling and this is then moved around the room, heating it throughout. It’s possible that a radiator cover could disrupt this, especially if it is also used like a shelf and covered with objects such as books.

Radiator covers and thermostatic radiator valves

Best Heating also explain that thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) could also become confused by the addition of a radiator cover. TRV’s work by measuring room temperature and adjusting the flow of hot water through radiator pipes accordingly. If they are encased within a cover they may read a temperature which is too high, due to the space inside the cover being warmer than the rest of the room.

Why use a radiator cover?

There are a number of reasons why homeowners might want to use a radiator cover, regardless of how it might affect how warm a room may feel. We took a look at the top 3:

Child proofing

A radiator can present the risk of burns if a child touches it – a big problem with steam radiators which tend to get hotter to the touch. For this reason many homeowners choose to child proof them, with safety gates and radiator covers being the primary methods.

Décor and appearance

Let’s face it – radiators can be ugly, and not everyone wants to or can afford to replace theirs with a more attractive version. Wooden covers are a quick and often cheap way of hiding a radiator. If this is the primary goal of using a radiator cover, there are also alternatives such as paint designed specifically for radiators or printed wraps that stick on and allow heat to pass through.

Radiator noise reduction

Central heating systems are often naturally a little noisy and whilst not a perfect solution, radiator covers can help to reduce the volume of these sounds. If your central heating system is making any unusual or new noises, visit our guide to noisy central heating systems and seek the advice of a gas safe professional if necessary.

If you find that your radiators are not as efficient as they should be (with or without a radiator cover) you may find our guides to bleeding a radiator and balancing radiators useful.


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