Underfloor heating – How it works – Efficient, space saving and silent

Underfloor HeatingAn underfloor heating system allows the floor itself to become the heat emitter and the heating of the room occurs from the floor up, unlike radiators which tend to heat from the ceiling down.

As a method of heating it is frequently utilised in cooler parts of Europe, and in the UK more and more people are installing underfloor heating and turning to its invisible benefits. It’s not just popular with homeowners; underfloor heating can service all sorts of buildings, from schools and offices to hospitals and even stately homes and castles. In new builds it will have to meet Building Regulations.

Due to the nature of the work involved, underfloor heating tends to be installed during a property’s construction. It is favoured for many benefits, not least because using underfloor heating eliminates the need for radiators and heating from the ground upwards is much more efficient because it uses less energy.

Both electric and water based underfloor heating systems are available. The heating installations are carried out by heating and plumbing companies who specialise in the installation of underfloor heating. Builder Guide has a list of reputable firms and installers and by completing the quote form we’ll be able to relay your request to up to three suitable underfloor heating specialists.

Types of underfloor heating and how it works

Underfloor heating utilises two different systems – hot water, also known as wet and electric. Wet heating uses warm water from the central heating system that has been heated to a lower temperature than conventional water central heating, making it ideal for use with a high efficiency condensing boilers. The water temperature to the heating pipe is controlled by mixing the water in the pipe with hot water from the boiler to achieve the required temperature. The water is then pumped through polyethylene pipes that have been laid underneath the floor prior to the final surface being laid.

Electric underfloor heating uses electric heating cables that are attached to open-weave mesh mats. Electric systems tend to be cheaper to install compared to wet underfloor heating systems, however the later type of underfloor heating is more energy efficient and cost effective.

A treat for your feet – where to install and what are the benefits

Your feet simply won’t know what’s hit them if you’ve got underfloor heating installed. Instead of waking up to a cold wooden floor on a cold winter morning, your feet will be in for a real treat.

Underfloor heating is particularly popular in conservatories and is a popular feature in new bathroom installations. It’s the perfect choice for rooms with floor tiles or rooms that feature laminate flooring. Even carpeted rooms can utilise underfloor heating systems, as long as the combined tog rating for the carpet and underlay doesn’t exceed 1.5. However, not all materials are compatible with underfloor heating so it’s important to check. And the length of time the heating takes to kick in will also be dependent on the materials used to construct the floor.

In situations where new floors are in the process of being constructed, or if it’s accessible and practical to take up floors in existing rooms, then wet heating can be installed quite easily. The benefits and advantages of underfloor heating are numerous, but include:

  • It’s an energy efficient way to provide heat for your home.
  • Very little heat is wasted and you won’t have to endure unpleasant cold spots.
  • Space-saving it removes the need for radiators. It frees up the walls where radiators would normally be.
  • Once installed the systems are pretty much maintenance free.
  • It’s silent, unlike noisy pipes and radiators which can often gurgle and creak.
  • Radiators dry out the air but underfloor heating doesn’t.
  • Underfloor heating works well with modern condensing boilers and heat pumps.

Don’t overlook the importance of insulation

For underfloor heating to work to its full potential – to not just be cost efficient but energy efficient as well – then insulation will be a big factor. These systems do not kick into life quickly – they take time to both heat up and cool down. Room sizes and a home’s overall energy efficiency can all influence heating performance.

Whether your system is electric or wet it will still require insulation in order to minimise the amount of heat lost through the ground and walls. Insulation will help to optimise the system’s performance and reduce emissions and running costs.

If your home isn’t properly insulated then an underfloor heating system will be incapable of acting as a sole source of heat, given that it will struggle to heat the room.

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