How to be more energy efficient with thermostatic radiator valves

October is the month when autumn really advances, and we all realise that, like it or not, winter is well on its way. This time last year the looming rise in energy prices – and how to maximise energy efficiency to keep costs down – dominated the headlines. Twelve months on, not a lot has changed. The cost of living crisis continues to bite, and most of us are braced for another round of sky-high energy bills. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are steps you can take to save energy, which in turn will help save you money. Unsurprisingly, your home’s radiators and, importantly, their thermostatic radiator valves, have a key role to play. Our commercial director Jody explains all.

We offer a wide range of thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) styles, shapes, colours and finishes. Here, we have accessorised our chic Cassius Mild Steel Vertical Radiator in Anthracite with our Essential Corner TRV in Chrome

The importance of saving energy

According to the Energy Saving Trust, an efficient heating system, which runs on a low carbon fuel, is one of the most effective ways to reduce your utility bills. Did you know that heating and hot water account for over half of a typical UK household’s fuel bills? So, improving your energy efficiency is an absolute must as the mercury drops. Even small changes can make a big difference to your bills. Reducing the amount of energy that we use in our homes reduces our environmental impact too. In other words, lowering our energy expenditure is good for the planet, and well as your pocket.

Cast iron is an excellent heat distributor. Our 2 Column Cast Iron Radiator is available in four traditional heights and a wide selection of finishes. It’s pictured here in Graphite Black with Enzo Angled Manual TRVs in Antique Brass

Energy-efficient materials

If you’re thinking of updating your radiators and/or towel rails before winter arrives, there are lots of things to consider. Size, shape, colour and style are all important criteria. So is your radiator material.

If you want to prioritise energy efficiency, I recommend aluminium. Radiators consist of conductive metals, such as cast iron and stainless steel. Because it’s an excellent thermal conductor, aluminium heats up very quickly. Aluminium radiators transfer heat from the water inside them to the air in the room faster than many other materials. This means they need less heated water from your boiler to function effectively. Another advantage of aluminium radiators is that they can respond quickly to any changes in your room’s heating requirements – especially if they are equipped with thermostatic radiator valves.

Add some contemporary elegance to any room scheme with our Vela Vertical Radiator in energy-efficient aluminium, pictured here in an Anthracite finish teamed with Essential Angled TRVs in Chrome

What are thermostatic radiator valves?

Thermostatic radiator valves are the small, cylindrical-style knobs that you will usually find on the side of your radiators. They are a popular alternative to manual radiator valves, although each type has its own advantages.

Thermostatic radiator valves are designed to deliver greater control of your heating, which in turn helps you use only as much energy as you need. They usually comprise two distinct parts: the thermostatic valve head (which incorporate the dial) and the valve body underneath.

Make your radiator multitask! Our Bench dual-purpose column radiator – pictured here in a grey aluminium finish with Essential Straight Thermostatic Valves in Chrome – is both practical and stylish

What do thermostatic radiator valves do?

The key benefit of thermostatic radiator valves is that they allow you to control the temperature of each individual room in your home. More accurately, the valves detect the temperature of the room – and then adjust the radiator(s) in it, so that the room is as warm as you want it. This helps you heat your property more efficiently, saving you money on your heating bills.

Add a splash of colour, and enhance your eco-friendly credentials, with our Ruvo Vertical Radiator, manufactured from 100% recycled aluminium. We love this Turquoise Blue finish, paired with white Essential Corner TRVs

How do thermostatic radiator valves work?

Thermostatic radiator valves usually have some sort of numbered dial, ranging from 1 to 5. Each number corresponds to a specific temperature. Typically, 0 equals ‘off’, 1 equals 10°C, 2 equals 15°C, 3 equals 20°C, 4 equals 25°C and 5 equals 30°C. You choose the number that relates to your desired temperature for that particular room, and let your thermostatic radiator valves do the rest!

When the temperature changes, the valve head expands, moving a pin into the valve body. If the room becomes too hot, the valve closes and prevents hot water entering the radiator. Conversely, if the room becomes too cold, the valve opens and allows more hot water in until the set temperature is reached.

In addition to radiators, TRVs can also be used with towel rails, like our Zante model, shown here in Polished Stainless Steel with chrome corner valves

Thermostatic radiator valves allow you to customise the temperature for each room in your home. For example, you may want your main living area warmer than your spare room or (oven-warmed) kitchen.

Thermostatic versus manual radiator valves

Thermostatic radiator valves have become more popular in recent years. But whether you opt for these or manual valves is a personal choice. Ultimately, it all comes down to controllability.

Keep things classic with our Metro mild steel straight fronted ladder towel rail, shown here in Chrome with matching TRVs

Once they have been set up, thermostatic radiator valves effectively regulate your room temperature automatically. Manual valves require you to react to temperature changes, as and when they happen. Some people prefer this; for others it is less practical. It’s also worth pointing out that manual valves can be more effective in humid environments, such as bathrooms, as humidity can stimulate incorrect readings and make your thermostatic radiator valves think the room is hotter than it actually is.

Keen to update the heart of your home as the weather turns colder? Click here to discover our director Stewart’s kitchen design ideas to help keep you warm this winter.