While in the past underfloor heating systems were viewed as a luxury, over the years they've become much more common and affordable. Nowadays, it's a popular heating option considered a great and more efficient alternative to traditional radiators. Whether you're building a new house or just planning a renovation, underfloor heating installation is definitely something worth considering.
But in order to decide whether it's something you want to invest in, it's important to learn more about the benefits, drawbacks and potential dangers of underfloor heating. We've prepared a comprehensive guide to help you find useful information.
What Is Underfloor Heating?
Underfloor heating is a type of central heating system that uses either wires or pipes installed underneath the floor to heat the floor and then distribute the warmed air evenly throughout the room. How is this effect possible?
While a traditional radiator uses convection to heat a room (a process in which hot and less dense air rises and colder air lowers, causing constant air circulation), underfloor heating systems rely mainly on heat radiation (the best-known example of this process is solar radiation). This means that the heated floor emits heat waves that can be absorbed by any object they encounter, not just the air, creating comfortable conditions with an even temperature in the room without hot and cold spots. In this case, even though convection still can be observed, it plays a much smaller part.
Such systems are often paired with a heat pump, but you can use them with gas or electric boilers for home heating as well. Everything depends on the type of underfloor heating installed and your budget.
Where Can Underfloor Heating Be Installed?
Underfloor heating is a very flexible option you can use to either heat your entire house or specific rooms, with bathrooms being the most popular choice among homeowners. It's suitable for both ground and upper floor levels.
Is It Difficult to Install Underfloor Heating?
Electric systems are generally quick and easy to install, and if you have DIY experience and enough confidence in your skills, you may be able to tackle the installation on your own. A water underfloor heating system, unlike electric systems, requires a lot more expertise and technical knowledge to install, and it's best to hire professional installers for this job.
It's recommended to seek the assistance of an underfloor heating expert, an electrician (for an electric system) or a plumber (for a water-based system) to make sure the system is connected properly.
What Types of Underfloor Heating Systems Are There?
Dry Underfloor Heating Systems
Dry or electric underfloor heating systems consist of wires or heating mats installed underneath the floor. Electric systems are a more affordable option in terms of initial and installation costs but tend to be more expensive to run due to energy prices. However, they can be paired with solar panels to provide an effective heating solution without increasing your energy bills.
Wet Underfloor Heating Systems
A wet underfloor heating system is more difficult and expensive to install but cheaper to run. It consists of a network of underfloor pipes that pump hot water from a boiler or heat pump. The warm water heats the floor as it travels through the pipes, ensuring an even distribution of heat around the room.
The Pros and Cons of Underfloor Heating Systems
Underfloor Heating Pros
- Improved comfort. Imagine getting out of bed in the morning and feeling a pleasant warmth beneath your feet instead of the usual cold floor. And if you have kids who love to play on the floor, they will surely appreciate this new heating system as well!
- Increased energy efficiency. Underfloor systems distribute heat evenly, which means they can work at a lower temperature than traditional radiators while still ensuring comfortable warmth in your rooms. Better heat efficiency can result in lower heating bills and energy bills.
- Low maintenance. Both electric and wet systems are very reliable and require little or no maintenance. While regular servicing may be a good idea, especially when it comes to water systems, problems are rare and underfloor heating can run smoothly for years without you having to pay any attention to it.
- More space. One of the benefits of underfloor heating is getting rid of ugly and bulky radiators. It frees up your space and offers completely new interior design options.
- Efficient heat distribution. By installing underfloor heating, you can ensure an equally comfortable temperature in every part of the room while lowering your heating bills at the same time.
- Health benefits. The heat convection from radiators circulates not only air but also dust and dust mites, which can worsen the symptoms of allergies and asthma. Underfloor heating, on the other hand, whether it's an electric or wet system, reduces the spread of dust and allergens through the air and creates a much more comfortable and healthier environment.
- Increased home value. It's a simple and well-known fact that every addition to a house that makes it more luxurious and comfortable results in the possibility of selling it for a higher price in the future.
Underfloor Heating Cons
- Installation costs. While underfloor heating cost depends on the type of system you choose (with the water-based system being much more expensive) and the size of your house, it is undeniably a sizeable investment. For this reason, many people opt to install it when building a new house/extension or during a bigger renovation project.
We recommend getting quotes from at least two or three installers to realistically assess the underfloor system installation costs for your project.
- Takes longer to heat a room. As this type of heating operates at lower temperatures and works by raising the temperature evenly and distributing the heat, it usually takes longer to heat the entire room.
- Limits furniture layout options. It's inadvisable to place flat-based, fixed or heavy furniture on top of underfloor heating. Otherwise, the heat will have nowhere to go, causing thermal blocking, which, in the most severe cases, can end up damaging the floor.
Is Underfloor Heating the Right Option for You?
Now that you know all the pros and cons of underfloor heating, you'll be able to make an informed decision on whether it's a good option for you or not. To find more available solutions, check our offer of high-quality electric heating boilers and other heating-related products.
Underfloor Heating Systems FAQ
Is Underfloor Heating Efficient?
Yes, underfloor heating is more efficient than other heating methods, such as traditional radiators. It's energy-efficient, eco-friendly and provides improved heat distribution.
Is Underfloor Heating Expensive to Run?
Everything depends on the size of your home. But as underfloor heating requires less energy to heat your house, it can be a very affordable option in the long run. It's worth noting, however, that electric systems tend to be more expensive to run than water systems.
Is Underfloor Heating Worth It?
It's a cleaner, healthier and more efficient way to heat your home. However, if you're looking for financial savings in the long run, it's always important to compare the initial costs and the estimated running costs with your current heating bills.
Is It More Economical to Leave Underfloor Heating on All the Time?
Yes, especially in winter. It takes more energy to heat a room than to maintain a comfortable temperature in it. Instead of turning the heating off, you can reduce the temperature at night and when no one is home.