As well as such hedonistic pursuits as insulating the loft, I've recently being going wild with other draught-bashing and heat-saving tricks. Here's the verdict on radiator foil (to keep the heat in) and thermostatic valves (to keep the heat from getting excessive).
Radiator foil is basically aluminium foil with padding, designed to radiate heat back into the room rather than through the wall behind it. I can't find the Energy Saving Trust's figures, but I seem to recall the estimated saving a year for a 3-bed house is in the region of £10. Not much, but then the foil only costs £5 for a roll - enough for 4 big radiators - and the glue is another £5. Suffice to say, it's very easy to fit, even for a DIY disaster like me.
All you do is grab a tape measure, measure up - taking into account where the wall mounts are - snip with some scissors, slap the polystyrene glue on the back, slide it down and press it against the wall. I'm sure if you wanted to do a really neat job, you could go to the hassle of taking the radiator off, but the effect (see photo below) was good enough for me.
My wife says she can tell the room's warmer, though I couldn't honestly say I've noticed the difference. To source the raw materials, try your local DIY shop - mine were from B&Q, although the products aren't listed on its site.
And what of those thermostatic radiator
valves (often called TRVs)? If you're new to them, the concept's
simple. Fit one on each of your radiators and they'll detect when your
desired temperature -20 degrees, say - has been reached, and then
regulate the heating output so the temperature doesn't go above that.
In short, they should require less gas to be burned, less carbon to be
shoved into the atmosphere and fewer humans over-heated and drowsing
Buying these for £5 each in B&Q (pictured left), the instructions looked like a DIY job. It's not. You'll need a plumber. And, as I discovered, you'll probably need that plumber for a couple of hours because they'll need to drain your entire central heating system, which at £80 an hour isn't cheap.
So unless you have some basic plumbing skills - which I don't - I'd recommend not bothering with thermostatic valves unless you're in the process of actually replacing the entire radiator. Otherwise, you simply won't make your money back. It's also worth noting the valves are fairly crude, as they're only measuring the temperature by the radiator - which might mean the wall by your radiator remains nice and toasty but your armchair's stays rather chilly. Generally, though, I've found they do what they say on the tin.
At some point I'll do the maths and post on whether this has had an impact on my gas bill (and accompanying carbon footprint).