Why install underfloor heating — underfloor heating benefits, efficiency

Why install underfloor heating - underfloor heating benefits, efficiency

Why install underfloor heating?

If you want a cosy, energy efficient heating alternative, look no further than underfloor heating.

Underfloor heating is suitable for all flooring types and works particularly well with stone

Underfloor heating has definitely grown in popularity, says Ursula Mitchell, from Underfloor Resource Systems in Oxfordshire. People are using it in extensions, new builds, kitchens and conservatories. Mark OBrien works for Terra Therma in Essex. They have installed underfloor heating in homes, flats and even in driveways and underground car parks. Mark finds that: 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 youre 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

Water pipes or wires are installed under the floor to heat your home

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, emphasises Ursula.

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. Mark points out that: 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 such as Terra Therma in Essex 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 doesnt do this, Mark says, In fact 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, Mark points out. 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; I would say on average that underfloor heating in a modern house would cost around 25 30% less than one with radiators, Mark says.

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

Underfloor heating works well in kitchens and bathrooms

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, explains Mark. Heat pumps are optimised and most efficient when heating water to around 35 degrees C, which is perfect for 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. Mark explains; 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; Ursula says her own kitchen in a house with limited insulation costs about 10p an hour, around 1 a day to heat with an underfloor system.


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