‘Useless’ energy saving tips to ‘avoid’ – they do ‘nothing’

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With winter over and the nation still experiencing cold temperatures, many households may be looking for ways to keep their homes warm and power their house without adding significant costs to their energy bills. From fibs to facts circulating on social media, heating experts from Stelrad Renewable Heating have sifted through TikTok to discover eight energy saving hacks to avoid, from painting radiators black to charging phones with a fidget spinner. Chris Harvey at Stelrad has debunked them, offering reasoning as to why households should avoid each one.

1. Solar windows

With 2.1 million views on TikTok, this is a hack that many people clearly hope will work, but unfortunately “it doesn’t actually generate power”, according to the expert.

One video on TikTok illustrates how a window is made from rotten fruit and veg, which is then suspended in a resin substrate.

Chris argued: “Although it is a clever and sustainable way to reuse your rotten fruit and veg, it is not intended to generate electricity and is therefore useless as an energy-saving trick.

“Other than looking pretty, this hack does nothing else to help you save money on your electrics.”

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2. Magnetic fields 

Wracking up to 421,000 views, a TikTok video claims magnetic fields can create electricity. The expert said: “This hack seems to generate enough electricity to power a light bulb, although truthfully you’ll need a much bigger magnet and several other circuit elements like a coil to make this work.

“Although the idea is somewhat interesting, as magnetic generators can create a magnetic force, it is not enough to light a bulb up by itself.”

3. Portable heaters

Designed to heat up one small room at a time, portable heaters are circulating TikTok, with over 112,000 views. However, unfortunately, these heaters “won’t save you any money in the long run”, as they are usually “not cheaper than central heating”, claimed Chris.

4. Black radiators

This myth is somewhat believable as it is true that black and dark coloured materials absorb heat faster than lighter ones, however, this too is “useless”.

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A TikTok video with 252,000 views sets out to explain that a black radiator will create more heat for a home, as black and dark coloured materials absorb heat faster than lighter ones, however, at Stelrad, “we would never recommend to do this”, said the expert.

He explained: “Whilst it is true that darker colours absorb heat faster, this is only the case when heat is generated through light.

“So even though painting radiators a dark colour may be good to look at, it will do absolutely nothing to reduce energy bills.”

Instead it’s more important to insulate the walls to prevent heat leaking out of the home, rather than wasting time painting a radiator.

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5. Tin foil behind radiator

Interestingly, popping tin foil behind your radiators is a popular heating hack with 104,400 views, but in order for this hack to “truly be effective” the radiator would need to be “on high for an extremely long time” and is “certainly not something we recommend doing and should be avoided”, said Chris.

He urged: “You should never cover or try to adapt your radiator. Instead, we recommend ensuring all radiators are not blocked by furniture and that they have been bled once a year at least.”

6. Turn heating off if not at home 

Whilst this might sound like a waste of money, a TikTok video shows it’s more cost-effective to keep heating on between 16 to 17 degrees and then increase it to 18 to 20 degrees when home, as a small adjustment of one to two degrees for a short period shouldn’t increase energy bills.

Instead Chris said: “You should pre-programme your heating so that the heat is increased slightly in the morning before you wake off and just before bed.”

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7. Solar chargers

With 49,100 TikTok views, the heating pro said: “We can confirm this energy-saving hack isn’t going to save you a fortune.

“Whilst we all struggle with keeping our phones charged throughout the day, using a solar charger is not going to help rid us of this issue. Perhaps this hack should be kept among the camping community, instead of homeowners.”

8. Fidget spinner to charge your phone

Fidget spinners might have been all the rage several years ago, but it looks like they might have another purpose with TikTokers claiming households can use one to charge their phone.

The heating expert said: “With 13,000 views on TikTok, it’s not something we’d suggest doing, probably because it’s time-consuming and won’t work as efficiently as charging your phone the normal way.”

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