1. Radiators cause draughts
Radiators are badly named. In practice they are convection heaters and they cause draughts.
Take a look at the back of one of your radiators. Most likely, you will see a row of vanes. We all know warm air rises. These vanes are there to guide the air as it’s drawn up by the warmth of the radiator.
This means you get the warmest, stuffiest, air at ceiling level. As that warm air spreads across the ceiling, it cools and starts to sink towards the floor on the far side of the room. Natural circulation means this cooler air will start to move back across the floor to be sucked up by the vanes once more.
It’s that cool air moving at floor level that leaves your feet and ankles feeling cold. And this is why you probably have draughts in your room, even when you’ve got the doors and windows tightly shut.
2. Radiators dictate room layout
Fixed to the wall, radiators stop you placing furniture against the wall. Often, radiators are fixed under the window to lessen the impact on room layout.
But from an efficiency point of view, under the window is probably the worst place to put a radiator. It leads to long pipe runs to and from the boiler, and it means your primary heat source (the radiator) is bang next to your primary sources of heat loss – windows and external walls.
Hanging any type of curtain worsens the problem. The warm air from the back of the radiator will go up behind the curtains and get trapped against the window.
3. Radiators are ugly
Why is it they are always painted in ‘stand-out’ white with no hope of blending into your décor?
Surely it should be possible to have much more discreet heating that is felt but not seen?
4. Radiators are dangerous
Radiators introduce a dangerous object to the room.
Made of metal, the hard corners and edges are a particular hazard should you trip or fall against them.
5. Radiators are messy
Have you ever experienced a leak from your radiators? With radiators you are not only running the risk of a soaking but the water is filthy and will end up damaging your floor covering.
6. Radiators are inefficient
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. The time to heat up the water, and cool down when you no longer need the heating, make radiators less efficient compared with surface heating.
7. Radiators need maintenance
Because you are relying on metal radiators that can corrode and leak (not to mention the complications of boilers, valves, and pumps), your heating system will need regular supervision and maintenance.
This comes at a significant price over the years.
All in all, it is easy to see that central heating radiators are not clever.
There are better systems, particularly electric floor heating systems, that will become more common as renewable energy takes over from fossil fuels and gas boilers are relegated to the scrap heap.
For now, we rely on portable electric heaters when we don’t want to use the central heating, or when the central heating isn’t keeping us warm enough.
The trouble is, most portable heaters have problems. They can be noisy, they always clutter up the room, they often cause draughts, and many are expensive to run.