It’s not very often that you need to upgrade the central heating system in a house. However, if you’re moving property, or simply need to update your system, it might be worth considering some alternatives to the standard radiator system. While these still work fine, there are better ways of heating certain rooms in the house. One of those is underfloor heating.
What is underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating is reasonably self-explanatory – it replaces a radiator that’s mounted on a wall with one under the floor. The method of heating will be dependent on which type of system you choose to install, but they both follow the same principle. The radiator heats the floor, which then radiates heat into the room, thereby warming it. It’s a much more efficient system for heating large spaces and will heat them much quicker than several radiators.
Underfloor heating has been around in some shape or form for thousands of years, so the technology isn’t that new. However, it fell out of popularity with the invention of central heating systems, and before this time it would have only be used in the richest households. The heating systems are surprisingly easy to install, but because it will involve ripping up the floor, it’s best to do when you’re renovating your house. Find out more.
Types of underfloor heating
Electric underfloor heating works by placing a series of electric coils or heating mats under the floor, which then heats up when turned on. An electric system means it doesn’t have to be connected to your normal central heating system, meaning it can run independently.
The electric mats are placed on a layer of screed, which ensures the surface is completely flat, and then a layer of floor insulation. This is to help project the heat upwards rather than it getting absorbed into the ground.
Electric systems are more versatile because the heating equipment comes in different forms, and the wire is flexible enough to coil into small spaces. This means it’s more suitable for heating just a portion of the room. There are different types of electric underfloor heating for different floor materials too, so there are a lot more options available.
Water-based underfloor heating works in basically the same way as a conventional radiator. You put a series of pipes under the floor, which is connected to a water supply and a heater. Once the heater is turned on, the water is pumped around the pipes and then radiates through the floor.
Water systems can be connected to your normal central heating, but can also be run off their own heaters. These can be solar powered or linked to air or ground heat sources. This means that it has the potential to be a more energy efficient system than electric heating, particularly if you use a renewable energy source.
Unlike electric heating, there is only one type of water-based underfloor heating. This is because there’s only one way that water can be pumped around under the floor. However, a water system’s versatility comes through in its heat source. Water systems are less popular than electric, mainly because there aren’t as many options available.
Water systems are also significantly more complicated to install. This is because they involve a plumbing system rather than just an electric mat connected to a power source. If you choose electric heating, you’ll likely be able to install it yourself. However, if you choose a water system, it will be best to hire a professional.
Why would I choose underfloor heating?
There are many different reasons for installing underfloor heating in your home, including:
- It’s a much tidier system than radiators, and it means you don’t have to have them installed on your walls. It gives rooms a less cluttered feel, and so would be ideal for those going for a minimalist approach to their decor.
- Because the pipes are installed under the entire floor it leads to even heat distribution. Conventional radiators radiate heat from a single space, which is then meant to be carried around the room by convection. However, this doesn’t always happen, and so underfloor heating is a better option.
- Underfloor heating functions at a lower temperature because there’s less heat wastage, and its greater area means you feel the effects much easier than with a conventional radiator.
- Stone or hardwood floors are a problem area when it comes to heat loss, especially in the winter. Installing a heating system under a tile or stone floor makes the room feel warmer almost immediately, and this makes them a great choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
- It is a more energy efficient system than conventional radiators because it works at a lower heat. This means over time you can look to save money on your heating bill.
However, there are also some cons to underfloor heating, including:
- Even though the system is relatively easy to install, it’s not particularly cheap. The best time to install an underfloor heating system is when you’re planning on having work done on your property, or if you’re moving into a new build.
- It’s also worth considering which rooms will benefit from it most because there are certain types of furniture or materials that can’t be left on a heated floor.
- The system also takes longer to heat up than a conventional radiator because it works at a lower temperature. This also means that it’s usually necessary to put it on a timer to avoid excess spending.
Underfloor heating is a great alternative to conventional heating systems, and if set up correctly can be much more energy efficient. They’re ideal for bathrooms and kitchens, or large spaces with hard floors.