Underfloor heating is becoming a popular, alternative way to heat your home compared to traditional heating systems. It not only frees up space on walls and distributes heat more evenly through a property, but it also warms floors with ease and allows homeowners to independently control the heat of each room/zone within their property too. If you have installed underfloor heating, you may already know that it is designed to run at a lower temperature making it better suited to new energy efficient alternative heat sources which are proposed to replace gas boilers in the future, but have you ever wondered how underfloor heating works? We take a look.
Traditional radiators heat the cold air in their immediate vicinity (i.e. above and around the radiator) at a high temperature, causing the warm air to rise upwards to the ceiling. This results in a mass of warm air at ceiling level and cooler air at the bottom. In short, when using radiators, the floor is generally the coldest place in the room. Underfloor heating works differently by producing and emitting radiant heat from floor level that is evenly distributed across the entire surface and radiating upwards. The entire floor works as one big radiant heater that heats people rather than objects. It means you can wave goodbye to cold spots, overheating and energy wastage.
Types of underfloor heating
There are two main types of system you can fit to achieve the luxury of underfloor heating beneath your feet!
- Dry underfloor heating systems (dry systems)
These systems are powered by electricity and are often known more commonly as electric underfloor heating systems. They gently warm the floor beneath which they are placed via a variety of electrical guises. Generally, the electrical elements are housed within very thin matting that can be easily rolled out into a room making it super easy (and affordable) for homeowners to retrofit underfloor heating into their property. They are particularly well suited to small areas such as bathrooms and conservatories.
- Water underfloor heating systems (wet systems)
Wet systems are made up of a series of pipes that are laid underneath your floor and connected to your boiler. They work similar to that of your central heating system, although the temperatures needed are far lower than when relying on a radiator. While it is possible to retrofit a home with a wet system, it is much easier to install into a new-build.
Dry systems are cheaper to fit but costly to run, while water-fed systems cost more to fit but are cheaper to run, with possible long-term savings on bills to be had too.
Running costs for a dry, electric system are generally higher than wet systems, mainly because they use grid electricity (unless you have them connected up to solar panels of course). Wet underfloor heating systems cost as little as £4,000 to install for 25m² in a terraced property, £,6000 for 45m² in a semi-detached property or £8,500 for 65m² in a detached property, but price varies by project. Water underfloor heating systems are an affordable heating solution that is around 25% more efficient than radiators, so savings can also be made on heating bills. It is particularly cost effective when carried out as part of a new build or complete property refurbishment as it can be carried out together with the other building work to reduce disruption and associated costs. Wet systems are preferable for larger areas or complete installations.
Underfloor heating is suitable for almost all types of flooring. However, floor coverings such as ceramic tiles or natural stone are very responsive floor finishes and are particularly conducive to underfloor heating.
Underfloor heating is a worthwhile investment and if you are thinking of having it installed in your property, we recommend getting two or three quotes for the work required from different installers. They should provide free quotations and will be able to advise on the most appropriate solution and make you aware of any other considerations. As always, the team here at Maintracts are here for you if you need us. 020 8131 5245.