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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

Save on heating bills with this foil behind radiators hack

How to make a DIY radiator reflector with foil and vinyl wrap

Foil behind radiator

Putting tin foil behind your radiators to save on your heating bills sounds too good to be true; surely something that simple can’t work, can it? Well, yes, it can, but a few factors can affect the results, so stick with me while I run you through the step-by-step process I use, including a twist on this simple DIY hack for extra effectiveness with conserving radiator heat.


I noticed that the bedrooms in our house were cold in the evenings, which was the main reason for trying this DIY radiator reflector hack. I looked into how I could make them warmer without cranking the heating up a notch because, let’s face it, energy prices are already ridiculous as they are. I know you can buy specialist radiator foil panels, but they aren't cheap, and regular readers will know that I much prefer employing creative and money-saving techniques wherever possible.  

How to reduce heat loss behind a radiator with foil 

There are a few ways you can tackle this one. You can just get a piece of foil and place it behind the rad; this is the simplest approach, but it’s also the one that’s least likely to get you great results because foil, by its nature, is thin and flimsy, so can easily get scrunched and wrinkled. 

Because the aim of the game is to reflect the heat back into your living space to ensure less energy wastage, we need the foil to be shiny so any creases and folds will reduce the effectiveness. To overcome these issues, you could wrap the foil around a piece or card, as this will help keep the foil flat and smooth, making it a better DIY radiator reflector. 

While that approach should work, I had a better idea involving some DC Fix vinyl wrap that I had in the cupboard. You likely have seen this in DIY and craft stores; it’s basically stick-backed plastic with a design of some kind on the outer side; in this case, it’s a faux marble effect. 

Does foil behind radiators work?

Placing foil behind radiators can reduce heat loss, making the radiator more effective and saving you money. There are a few factors that will determine the effectiveness of this hack, like wall type and location for example, but generally, you will see some benefits if the foil panels are completely smooth (for optimal reflectiveness) and not oxidised (as needs to be shiny not dull). If you live in a well-insulated property with little energy loss and low household bills, this might not make much difference or be the game-changing hack for you. But, if, like millions of us in the UK at the moment with older homes, high energy costs, external solid walls and many an exterior wall radiator, then this nifty hack might just make your day (like it did mine). 

How to use self-adhesive vinyl wrap & foil for a DIY radiator reflector

You will need

materials for DIY radiator reflector

  • Roll of silver foil

  • Tape measure

  • Scissors

  • A roll of sticky-back vinyl (or you could use thin card if you don't have vinyl)

DIY radiator reflector

Measure up

Use the tape measure and get the dimensions required for your DIY radiator reflector.

Note where the radiator brackets are positioned, as you'll need to cut out gaps in your foil panel to allow them to slide down easily behind the radiator. 

Vinyl wrap behind radiator
DIY radiator reflector

Cut the back panel

​Mark the dimensions you measured onto your vinyl sheet, including the wall brackets

Cut out the panel and test it fits smoothly behind the radiator, including channels for the wall brackets.

Apply the foil

Remember that you want the foil to be as smooth as possible, so take time and care with this next step.

peel back vinyl backing for DIY radiator reflector

​Peel back sections of the sticky backing to reveal the self-adhesive side of the vinyl. 

Hold the foil roll above the sticky vinyl and gently place it down, smoothing with your hand to ensure no air bubbles.

Continue peeling back the vinyl backing and applying the foil until the whole panel is covered. 

Once covered, cut the foil along the channels for the wall brackets and fold the foil back behind the panel so you have a smooth, flat edge. 

foil behind radiators
Note the channel for brackets

Position behind radiator

Once you've made your reflective panel, position it carefully behind the radiator to ensure it doesn't crease or wrinkle. Line up the channels you cut out for the wall brackets and slot in place.

foil behind radiators hack to conserve heat

Finishing touches

Once the panel is in position, you can admire the results and get ready to feel warmer! I've deliberately made this one taller than strictly necessary so it's easier for you to see how I made it and I wasn't too bothered about it sticking out as it's in our bedroom, so no one will see it. For downstairs radiators, which might need to be more aesthetically pleasing

Can foil behind your radiators cut energy bills?

Yes, using reflective foil on the back of a radiator is a good idea as it can cut energy bills because it reduces heat lost into the wall and optimises the heat in the room, meaning your radiators make more of an impact and need to be on for less time than without the foil to achieve the same results. Getting your radiators working to maximum effect after only a few simple steps with some standard kitchen foil (& no upfront cost) surely has to be worth a go, right? 

How effective is foil behind a radiator?

I can personally attest to the aluminium foil behind the radiator hack being very effective for certain wall types. In our house, the bedroom radiators are located on external walls that have been cold this winter and adding the foil-backed vinyl wrap made a big difference to the power of the radiators to heat the room. This hack is less effective is the foil scrunches at all as needs to be shiny for reflective purposes and will oxidise over time so will need replacing, but it is such a low-cost installation that this shouldn’t be an issue. 

Does it matter what your walls are made of?

Surprisingly, the material of your walls can make a big difference to the effectiveness of this foil behind radiators hack. The reason is that certain walls take the heat away from the back of the radiator more than others. If your radiators are on internal walls, then there will be less heat loss than for a cold external wall. If your wall has cavity wall insulation then it won’t have the same drain on your heat as a solid wall will do. You’ll see the best results from a radiator located on a solid outside wall. 

Want more money-saving home maintenance tips and tricks?

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know I’ve been doing a lot of work over the past few months to find ways to help people tackle the home maintenance issues arising as a result of the cost-of-living-crisis, condensation prevention and management being a huge one and mould growth that can happen if condensation isn’t treated. I've tested out DIY window insulation kits and even installed roof tile vents to battle loft condensation.

I’ve also been looking at ways to stay warm without the heating on and how to use a dehumidifier to get your home feeling warm and dry. Click on any of those underlined words to be taken directly to the relevant blog posts if they are useful to you.


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