Underfloor heating is not a heating essential but the advantages to having underfloor heating installed at your property can make it ideal for your home’s heating requirements.
There are 2 main types of underfloor heating available: a “dry” electrical system and a “wet” water system. The dry system is formed from electrical coils placed under the floor, whereas the wet system is made up of pipes that warm water is pumped through. Both types work on the principle that hot air rises to heat up the air above the floor evenly throughout the room.
The type of underfloor heating system depends on the size and shape of the room you want to heat. It also depends on whether you are fitting the underfloor heating retrofit or part of an entire refurbishment because wet systems require more depth for the pipes making it a harder system to fit retrospectively if the depth is too shallow. It is recommended that professionals fit both forms even though there are electric systems available that can be fitted by a competent DIYer.
- Space saving – Underfloor heating means that you can remove bulky radiators to give your home clean lines and free up extra room and wall space which gives your home a high-end finish.
- Even room heating – Traditional radiators heat the air immediately around the radiator then the heat disperses into the rest of the room unevenly. Underfloor heating due to its position under the floor heats the entire room evenly from the floor to the ceiling.
- Energy saving – The energy saving ability of installing an underfloor heating system depends on how insulated your home is, what your heating requirements are and how efficient your boiler is. For example, according to the Energy Saving Trust, homes with average insulation with underfloor heating under insulated timber will save you 20% of energy costs compared to using radiators. However, installing underfloor heating in a new build that is well insulated will save you negligible amounts of energy.
- Continual warmth – These heating systems are the most effective if they are run continuously due to its lower temperature output and slower response time compared to traditional radiators. This perfect for providing warm stone, wooden and tile floors.
- Can be paired with renewable systems – Because underfloor heating systems work at lower temperatures then conventional radiators they are ideal to be paired with heat pumps and condensing high efficiency boilers where both systems are their most effective at low temperature heating.
- Ideal for commercial buildings – Due to the continual heating at lower temperature levels, underfloor heating is ideal for commercial buildings where there are higher volume levels of occupancy.
- Slower heating time – Underfloor heating systems take longer than conventional radiators to heat up, therefore, rooms and areas take longer to get to temperature, however underfloor heating will take longer to cool down. Any good system has controls that will allow you to pre-programme the underfloor heating to start before you need it.
- Not always a total heating solution – the smaller the underfloor heating system the lower the ability for the system to heat up the rest of the room, therefore, you will need to back up the heating with another form of heating system.
- Not suitable under furniture – Underfloor heating is not suitable to sit underneath furniture which can restrict the room layout.
- Can be expensive – The installation, maintenance and day-to-day running of underfloor heating can be quite expensive especially as an extra to your main heating system.
The cost of installing and running an underfloor heating system at your property is highly dependent on the room size and shape, whether the system is being installed during renovations or afterwards and your boiler’s efficiency. Therefore, if you are considering underfloor heating it is worth getting your local professional’s advice on installing the best system best suited to your heating requirements because they will be able to suggest the best solutions and alternatives.
Article written by a Devon underfloor heating installer, Optiheat Renewables.