Underfloor heating is establishing itself as an excellent alternative to traditional radiator systems, although there are pros and cons that it’s worth being aware of. For example, depending on where you get your underfloor heating trade supplies from, you may find yourself paying more than you need to for materials. Arming yourself with knowledge is the way forward.
The first thing to know is that underfloor heating can either be a “wet” or a “dry” system. In a wet system, warm water is pumped through pipes that pass under the floor, while a dry system consists of electric coils instead. Both systems operate on the principle that heat rises through the building. In terms of initial cost, the outlay for electric underfloor heating is less, but they are more expensive to run than water-based systems and so you should consider carefully what system suits your property. However, there are some key benefits of underfloor heating that you should be aware of.
Traditional radiators generally operate on a central basis. That means there’s one thermostat that controls the entire system and that works on an all-or-nothing approach. While there is the ability to turn many radiators off individually, it’s impossible to do this on a case-by-case basis every time you turn the heating on. Only heating the room you’re in is a tangible way to save money on your energy bills and underfloor heating allows you to effectively segment your home into zones. By only heating the zones you need, you save money on your energy costs.
Another issue with radiators is that they don’t heat rooms evenly. Often, then, the heating is put on high and yet there are still cold spots around the room while some areas are intensely warm and in need of ventilation. Once that ventilation is supplied in the form of an open window, for example, the heat essentially escapes from the building. In this case, you’re heating the radiator to let the heat escape out of the window – that’s far from energy efficient and no doubt adds to your heating bills. You don’t get this problem with underfloor heating, as the space heats evenly thanks to the coils or pipes beneath the flooring.
Improved Energy Efficiency
Overall, what you’re looking at with underfloor heating is improved energy efficiency which has a corresponding impact on your heating bills. While traditional radiators may need to be heated and maintained at around 70 degrees Celsius to heat an entire room, the system of underfloor heating operates at a much lower temperature. This can be 29 degrees Celsius or less, with the true figure depending on the flooring you choose. Less heat required, lower energy costs.
What About Initial Costs?
An underfloor heating sounds like a luxury that only the rich can afford, you’d be forgiven for believing it was out of your price range. It’s true that there are initial financial outlays for installation that may act as a deterrent, although the costs will often be recouped over the longer term by the energy savings. There are also options to install the system yourself which will considerably lower the initial costs. Even if you elect to hire a professional to install the underfloor system for you, buying a kit independent of them may also help to keep costs down.
If you’re building a new property or renovating one, that’s an excellent time to install underfloor heating and will help to keep the costs down. Combining it with other energy efficiency measures such as quality insulation and windows will ensure that the whole of your property is working in tandem to keep your energy bills lower. There are also eco-friendly considerations that anyone interested in sustainability should think about – more control of the heat levels and energy loss within your home will go a little way towards helping the planet. For many people, this is a greater motivator than cost.
Ultimately, how effective underfloor heating would be in comparison to radiators depends on the specifics of your property, whether you’re only installing the underfloor heating, and which type of heating system you’re likely to opt for. Dry underfloor kits can cost anything from £75 per square metre, while wet systems require much more intensive labour and installation. Remember, too, to factor labour costs into the equation, although it’s worth noting that you’d have plumbing costs whether you install a new radiator system or underfloor heating. Which means, really, that the choice is yours to make.