Five tips for choosing and using underfloor heating

Enjoy the benefits of underfloor heating
Enjoy the benefits of underfloor heating
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1. Wet underfloor heating works by circulating warm water through a series of pipes under the floor, connected to a boiler or other heat source - usually a heat pump.

The pipes don’t have to be laid in concrete - with some wet underfloor heating systems, the installer can lift up the existing floor covering, fit the heating panels, lay plywood on top and replace the floor covering. Most types of floor covering are suitable for underfloor heating, including carpet, tiles, vinyl, laminate and engineered wood (check with the manufacturer if in doubt).

2. Lots of homes have underfloor heating in some rooms and radiators in others, but underfloor heating is more energy efficient. It works at a lower temperature to radiators, yet delivers the same level of comfort, saving you money because the boiler doesn’t have to work as hard and so uses less energy. A radiator heats the air immediately above it, with the heat rising and then falling in a circular motion as it cools, whereas an underfloor system heats the entire room from the floor up. This reduces the constant air circulation caused by radiators, which creates draughts and distributes dust.

3. If your home has a ground, air or water source heat pump, or you’re considering installing one, this is the perfect partner for underfloor heating. Heat pumps work at their most efficient at low-water-output temperatures, so having a low-temperature heat emitter, such as underfloor heating, is ideal. Both heat pumps and boilers can heat water to the lowest temperature required for underfloor heating, but heat pumps do it more efficiently than boilers.

4. As wet underfloor heating systems are connected to your home’s boiler or heat pump, they can be cheaper to run than electric versions. They also come with room (or zone) controls, so you can have some rooms (or zones, such as the ground floor) hotter than others, again, potentially saving you money. Another advantage of underfloor heating is that it’s space saving. Some rooms have little free wall space for radiators, but this clearly isn’t a problem if the heating’s under the floor.

5. It is, of course, important to get your underfloor heating from a reputable supplier - some manufacturers guarantee their heating pipes for up to 50 years - and to use a plumber or heating engineer with experience of fitting systems like yours. While prices vary from system to system and home to home, wet underfloor heating for a three-bedroom house costs around £2,100 to £2,600, according to Ask for Underfloor. See www.askforunderfloor.org.uk for more information.