If you want a cosy, energy efficient heating alternative, look no further than underfloor heating.
Underfloor heating has definitely grown in popularity. People are using it in extensions, new builds, kitchens and conservatories. They have installed underfloor heating in homes, flats and even in driveways and underground car parks. In new builds often people are choosing to lay it throughout the whole ground floor. So why is underfloor heating so popular and what are the options?
There are two types of underfloor heating:
Electric underfloor heating
This is the best type of underfloor heating for existing floors as it is easier to install than water pipes. Most electric wires are installed under or inside flooring tiles and are around 3mm in size, these heat up when powered. Ursula explains: “For electric underfloor heating in new builds we would use a cable and screed system and in existing floors we tend to use electric matting.”
Water fed underfloor heating
Hot water from the central heating system is circulated around pipes in the sub floor to heat the room. These ‘wet’ systems are best suited to new floor constructions because more depth is needed to lay the pipe work and floor screed. “Installing a wet system in a refurbishment can be more difficult because you have to either dig up the floor or add an overlay, which is what we would normally do,” says Mark.
Whether you’re installing an electric or wet system, insulation boards should be placed on the sub-floor to make heating as efficient as possible. You should also make sure your home is well insulated to preserve warmth.
Benefits of underfloor heating
Comfort – radiators work to a high temperature of 65 – 70 degrees, heating intensely one area of the room from the top downwards. In contrast, underfloor heating operates at a lower temperature of around 35 degrees C and warmth is evenly distributed from the ground up, providing greater comfort. Underfloor heating feels nice underfoot and warms all areas of the room.
Efficiency – because they work at a lower temperature and distribute heat evenly, underfloor heating is up to 15% more efficient than traditional heating and includes a thermostat to regulate temperature. Radiators heat the air, so if you open the door heat escapes. Underfloor heating warms the ground and will continue to emit heat through radiation not convection.
Durability – underfloor heating systems require no specific maintenance and are extremely long lasting provided they are made and installed to BS EN 1264 standards. Companies guarantee underfloor systems in domestic properties for 25 years and 50 in commercial premises.
Improved health – radiators cause heat to circulate round the room, spreading dust particles, which can be harmful to your health. Underfloor heating doesn’t do this and it reduces the moisture levels of the floor making it too dry a climate for dust mites.
Suitable for all floors – you can apply underfloor heating to all flooring types, wood, laminate, vinyl, carpet or stone. However stone and ceramics are better conductors then carpet. Make sure carpet has a tog rating of no more than 1.5 when combined with underfloor heating for maximum efficiency.
Reduces fuel bills – because underfloor heating is more efficient than traditional heating, it can save you money. Depending on your homes insulation, how often you use it and to what temperature we would say on average that underfloor heating in a modern house would cost around 25 – 30% less than one with radiators.
Saves space – underfloor heating can be the sole heat source in your home, which eliminates the need for radiators and frees up wall space.
Renewable options with underfloor heating
Electric underfloor heating can be powered by electricity from the national grid, or attached to renewable energy generators such as solar PV or wind turbines, which will cut or eliminate fuel bills and carbon emissions.
Water fed underfloor heating systems can also either be powered by a conventional boiler but are often now used in conjunction with heat pumps or solar panels. When fitted to a heat pump, underfloor heating can work to an efficiency of 4:1. Heat pumps are optimised and most efficient when heating water to around 35 degrees C, which is perfect for underfloor heating.
Installing underfloor heating
It is essential to make sure that you hire a professional who is qualified and insured to install your underfloor heating. While there are no planning permissions needed, a qualified technician, plumber or electrician will abide by building regulations when installing your underfloor heating system. There are no specific building regulations for underfloor heating except floor insulation and concrete screed thickness guidelines.
Underfloor heating cost
The cost of underfloor heating will vary depending on the type of system and how many rooms you wish to heat, you should get several quotes to compare prices. As a guideline for running costs, kitchen in a house with limited insulation costs about 10p an hour, around £1 a day to heat with an underfloor system.