Underfloor heating is an excellent heating system for new and old homes.
Underfloor heating prevents awkward feelings when walking barefoot around the house. Walking barefoot is more uncomfortable especially in the cold winter.
Another important benefit of underfloor heating is how it can eliminate the need for radiators, meaning more space for other works in the home.
Installing underfloor heating requires that you answer certain questions, such as if you want to have it only in one room or in the entire house.
This decision is majorly influenced by your type of home and your budget for the project.
This guide walks you through all you need to know about underfloor heating, such as how they run, installation and running costs, and available types.
What Is Underfloor Heating And Any Reason To Have It?
Most homes are familiar with radiator heating systems, but underfloor heating is a different heating system installed beneath the flooring to heat the house from the floor.
When installed everywhere in the home, underfloor heating distributes heat evenly throughout the home, making it a better choice than radiators.
Also, the warmth feeling occupants have when walking on the floor is one of the beautiful attributes of this system.
Depending on the type, underfloor heating can make a home go more energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions.
Benefits of Underfloor Heating
If you want to know what benefits underfloor heating has to offer, here’re a few pros of the system to consider:
The system makes everywhere in the home, especially the floor, feel warm and comfortable.
Walking barefoot around the house, especially when coming out of the bathroom feels heavenly.
Even heat distribution
Heat is distributed evenly everywhere in the home, given that it’s installed in the whole house
Heating a large area with a small unit of underfloor heating is possible, thanks to the system’s high efficiency, which reduces heating bills.
Heat loss is minimized if the heating is through the floor than when using radiators.
With underfloor heating, the floor remains warm even when the doors and windows are open.
Installing radiators in the home requires dedicating special space, which reduces interior space in the house.
Underfloor heating is hidden under the home’s flooring, meaning that it requires no special space for installation.
Compatible with all floors
Whether you own a tile, carpeted, wood, or tile floor, underfloor heating will work excellent for you.
A warm floor means fewer creepy crawlies.
Cons of Underfloor Heating
Two obvious disadvantages of underfloor heating are the high costs and hassle of installation.
Installing underfloor heating in old buildings requires more work, such as removing the flooring.
Warming using underfloor heating takes a longer time than using regular radiators.
This means that the system needs timing to a particular time to ensure the home is warm when needed.
It doesn’t work with certain items in the house, such as large furniture. It’s even recommended to remove large items in the house when considering installing this system.
A large unit is needed to cover the whole home. When a small unit is installed, it only covers certain parts of the home and other rooms are left chilly, requesting radiators.
Types of Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating is available in two options:
Electric Underfloor Heating or Dry System
Electric underfloor heating, also known as the dry system, is a system where the home is heated through heating cables fitted underneath. These cables are electric-powered.
Also, electric systems come with three choices, and which is best for a home depends on the type of flooring:
Loss wire: it’s more suitable for awkward-shaped rooms with stone or tile floors
Matting: ideal for more regular-shaped rooms with tile or stone floors
Foil mat: excellent for laminated floors
Water Underfloor Heating or Wet System
This system works with the central heating system. It runs hot water beneath the floor and warms the house.
Running water is made possible through a series of pipes. One excellent advantage of this system is that it works with all kinds of boilers.
Also, there’re no leaks since it uses continuous plastic pipes.
What’s the ideal temperature for underfloor heating?
The ideal temperature for this system depends on preference. While you might be comfortable with 20°C, another occupant might want 18°C.
Also, the ideal temperature is not always the same everywhere in the home. While 21°C is excellent for the living room, 18°C won’t be a deal-breaker for bedrooms.
Is Underfloor Heating Expensive?
Installing an underfloor heating system doesn’t always require the same budget, even if the same model and size are chosen.
There is a huge economic difference between installing the system in a new home and an old home.
Installing underfloor heating in an existing home costs higher than it costs in a new home.
The type (wet or dry) you’re installing also contributes to how much the system costs to install.
Underfloor Heating Cost: New Build
Installing underfloor heating in a new building means the project can be planned in the building work and design from scratch.
Hence, the cost is fairly lower than installations in existing buildings. Installation costs in a new building can fall between £5,000 and £7,000, especially for wet underfloor heating.
Underfloor Heating Cost in Old Homes
Tagging a specific cost to underfloor heating in existing homes is quite difficult, as it involves floor lifting. However, the system costs £20 to £30 per square meter.
The installation costs of an electric system are generally lower than installing a wet system. For the electric system, a 10-square-meter roll-out mat cost around £170.
However, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of insulation board and heating controls.
Hiring an electrician for fixing it to your electricity supply also increases installation costs.
Certain factors contribute to the cost of installing a wet system. Do you want the system in all the rooms and how far are the rooms from the boiler?
However, it’s glaringly clear that the installation cost of the wet system is higher than the dry system.
Cost of Running Underfloor Heating
One significant factor that comes in when estimating how much it costs to run underfloor heating is the type of system chosen.
The cost of running a dry system is different from running a wet system.
Running Costs: Wet System
Though a wet system might be expensive to install, the running cost is considerably lower than running a dry system.
The low running cost is attributed to the difference in efficiencies.
Running Costs: Dry System
Generally, the running cost of a dry system is higher than a wet system.
In most cases, the running costs of a dry system can be up to 4 times the running costs of a wet system. This huge difference can be traced to the difference in gas and electricity prices.
This high cost of running makes the dry system more suitable for heating single rooms, such as the kitchens and bathrooms.
Best Flooring for Underfloor Heating
The type of flooring with which underfloor heating works contributes to its efficiency. Natural heat conductors will see the system heat faster.
The best types of flooring are natural heat conductors like stones. However, this doesn’t mean that other types of flooring won’t work with underfloor heating.
Whether you own a laminate or tile flooring, you can enjoy the benefits of underfloor heating.
If you’re planning on installing underfloor heating in a new building, knowing what to check for in each type of floor is important. Here’re a few pointers.
Using underfloor heating with wooden flooring should be done with extra care. Woods have limited heat ranges they can handle.
When the heat exceeds this limit, woods warp and shrink. Hence, it’s best to seek this information from the manufacturer, though most wood can handle temperatures up to 27°C.
When woods are suspected of this risk, laminate or engineered floors are a better option.
However, paying attention to the thickness is very important, as too much thickness can reduce the efficiency of the heating system. Ideally, 18mm or below is excellent.
Carpet flooring is not a bad deal for underfloor heating. The only thing here is to make sure that it’s not too thick.
As just mentioned, too much thickness makes the system warm slower, reducing its efficiency. Ideally, the carpet with the underlay shouldn’t exceed 2.5.
Concrete can be regarded as the best flooring for underfloor heating. This is because it can retain heat for a longer time.
This flooring is more suitable for a sleek, modern interior.
However, the underfloor heating shouldn’t be installed exactly in the concrete. Installing it in the concrete can easily damage it.
Hence, it should rather be installed within screed, regardless of whether you’re installing a wet or dry system.
Is Underfloor Heating Suitable For Old Houses?
Underfloor heating works perfectly for any building – old or new. However, the efficiency of the system depends on the insulation level of the home or room.
The system gives high efficiency when used in a well-insulated home, and this is generally true for all heating systems.
When the home is not well insulated, adding a traditional radiator system becomes necessary.
When installing underfloor heating in a home with low energy efficiency, the first thing is to improve the doors and windows, as well as the insulation.
If adding this improvement seems like an extra cost, going for a Green-Home-Grant-eligible improvement is a great way to go.
Does It Require Planning Permission?
The simple answer to this is a ‘NO’. However, installing the system in listed buildings and historically significant properties require planning permission.
Also, installing underfloor heating in a new room requires that it meets building regulations.
Does It Take Too Long To Warm?
Depending on the flooring and model used, it generally takes up to 3 hours for the system to warm up a room or the entire home.
This long delay is attributed to a long time it takes the screed to conduct heat from the system to the surface floor, and to the air.
How Often Should I Have The System On?
This depends on preference and the time of the year. In colder winter, always switching on the underfloor heating at a low temperature is not a bad idea.
This ensures that the system is on standby and the temperature can be increased within a few minutes when needed.
This is better than waiting for about 3 hours to warm up the entire house from scratch.
Does Underfloor Heating Require A Timer?
Having a timer for the system is a great idea. This ensures that you can control how your system works. With this, you can preset when you want the system to start and stop.
Smart thermostats are an excellent choice for timing underfloor heating.
Can I Install It Myself?
Whether you can install it yourself depends on the system you’re going for. DIY systems are easy to install on your own.
However, a water system requires the service of a professional installer.
Also, if you’re installing an electric system, you’ll need to call for an electrician to connect it to the electricity supply.
How Do I Increase Efficiency?
As repeatedly mentioned earlier, insulation is a crucial factor when installing underfloor heating. This ensures that heat is not lost unnecessarily in the home.
Minimizing heat loss in the home reduces how often the available heating system works. This also helps elongate the system’s lifespan.
How Do I Reduce My Energy Costs?
One common concern about heating systems is high energy bills. Hence, you want to know how you can cut your energy costs, perhaps through other means.
Here’re a few tips to cut your energy bills;
- Ensure all electrical appliances are working efficiently
- Don’t heat more water than you need
- Invest in energy-saving light bulbs
- Insulate your hot water tank. This can help save up to £35 a year
- Always use your washing machine at or below 30˚.
Also, check if changing your supplier will help you save money. Suppliers charge differently, and their tariffs change regularly.
Always make research on which supplier has the best tariff, so you can save money on your energy bills.
Finally, going renewable is an excellent way to significantly cut back your energy bills.
Though the upfront costs might seem high, renewable-energy systems have high paybacks.
Most of these systems are qualified for one or more incentives or/and grants.