Radiators are good at producing heat but less good at circulating it. Think about the average radiator. Most of the heat goes up the wall before it reaches the middle of the room where you want it.
The Radfan is a simple solution from the United Kingdom: A radiator attachment that pushes hot air out sideways. With two low-power fans, it can cut home energy costs by 5%, according to its inventors.
The Radfan came about because Roland Glancy’s wife was cold–and, it should be said, complaintful. Glancey had already turned the central heating to full and was wondering what else he could do to make the room warmer.
“He realized all the heat from the radiator was going straight up to these high ceilings, not getting two feet sideways where his wife needed it,” says Glancey’s partner Simon Barker. “There was nothing else he could do apart from running the electric van heater, which costs an absolute fortune. This was the next best thing.”
Glancey and Barker have since taken the product to market. You can buy a version online for $85. They tested the device at University of Manchester’s Energy House, an environmentally controlled test home for researchers. The testing found that the Radfan drew heat away from windows (where there’s most heat loss), increased air-flow, and allowed thermostats to be turned off earlier. On average, rooms in the house were 1 degree Celsius warmer at sofa height compared to rooms without the fans. In total, the Radfan could save average households about $50 year, the company says.
The fans are low power and low noise. They spin at 1,800 rotations per minute–which is about the same as the lowest speed on a standard house-fan–but look more like computer or TV fans, which are quieter and more efficient.
Radfan is an entry in this year’s James Dyson Awards. See the other entries here.
“I like to think radiators are the unsung hero of the home,” Barker adds. “Everybody in the energy-saving sector is going for the low-hanging fruit of trying to reduce electricity, which is a small part of most bills. Or, they’re going after super complicated Nest-type products. Nobody is looking at where the heat is coming and going in the house. That’s what we do.”