Pros and Cons of Underfloor Heating

Are you considering installing underfloor heating? Or looking into the costs, benefits and disadvantages of underfloor heating? This article will give you all the information you need.

Underfloor heating is becoming a lot more popular in households, especially in the UK. The UK underfloor heating market is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK heating industry. In 2019, it accounted for around 7.7% share by value. But why is it becoming a trend to have underfloor heating installed?

What Is Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating is a method of warming your home via a system that is installed beneath the flooring of your home. Most radiators we see in homes are installed onto a wall and can be bulky, however, with underfloor heating, you are saving space and creating a minimalistic feel. Underfloor heating is distributed evenly throughout your home, rather than in spots where radiators are located.

A Which? study found out the most popular rooms that people have underfloor heating. Of the homes they studied, the following percentages show which rooms are most common for underfloor heating

RoomPercentage
Bathroom55%
Kitchen46%
Living Room26%
Hallway24%

Pros Of Having Underfloor Heating Installed

Even distribution – Compared to a radiator, underfloor heating is distributed evenly throughout a home.

Heats a bigger area than a radiator – As the underfloor heating can heat a whole floor, they can heat a larger area than standard radiators.

Safer and more hygienic – Having a warmer floor makes it inhospitable to dust mites and bugs. Also, you can avoid sharp edges and high heats from radiators when having children around.

Easy to run – Almost no maintenance is required once the underfloor heating is installed. Most underfloor heating systems can be controlled by a thermostat and can be programmed for heat schedules.

Can be installed under different floors – Underfloor heating allows you to design your home without thinking about specific flooring needed. Most floor types can be chosen, whether that’s wood, laminate, stone, carpet, tiles and more.

Warm feet – The feeling of stepping out of a shower onto warm flooring never gets old! You can walk barefoot around your home all year long with warm feet.

Energy-efficient – Traditional radiators have to use higher temperatures to heat up, however, underfloor heating only needs a temperature of 29 degrees or less, dependant on the floor type.

Takes up less space – Enjoy the whole room without having bulky radiators on the walls. Walls can be decorated without limits and gives you more room for freedom of design.

Less waste – Even if you leave windows open, the floor will keep consistent heat. If this was the same for radiators, you would lose heat, costing you more and using more energy.

Easy to install – Usually, underfloor heating can be installed in a room in between 1 and 2 days. This depends on the size of the flooring and room, but most companies offer rapid fitting.

Cons Of Underfloor Heating

Cost of installation – The big disadvantage of underfloor heating is the installation costs. It can be pretty expensive to install underfloor heating, even though in the long run your heating bills will be lower. Sometimes you’ll be unlikely to be compensated for the initial installation costs.

Issues with the heating – If there is a problem with the underfloor heating, for example, it stops functioning, then the repair can be expensive and disruptive. You’d have to get the floor checked out and re-laid. It is important to use a trusted, experienced and qualified installer when purchasing underfloor heating to limit these risks.

Floor height – Some typical issues are the impact that the underfloor heating systems can have on floor heights. Some people may not want an increase in floor height, even though it is usually minimal.

Not suitable under various furniture – Some larger items that lay flat on the floor can’t work with underfloor heating. It can restrict the constant flow of heat and create a blockage. You may have precious furniture that would have to be relocated.

Older buildings can be more difficult – With old buildings, putting down underfloor heating may take a lot longer than newer homes. It can also be a lot trickier, adding costs and delays, especially homes with thick brick floors and walls.

May take time to warm up – Some underfloor heating takes time to warm up, sometimes slower than a radiator. Making sure to set your heating on a timer, or putting it on well in advance is the way around this issue.

Smaller systems aren’t as efficient – Some smaller systems aren’t as powerful as a traditional radiator, so may not power enough heat for a room. You could have a warm floor, but a cold room. Some homes have both radiators and underfloor heating in this case.

What Types Of Underfloor Heating Are There?

There are two main types of underfloor heating, they are electric underfloor heating and water/wet underfloor heating.

Electric Underfloor Heating System

This type of underfloor heating uses electricity as the power source to warm your floors. This is through heating cables that are fitted underneath your flooring.

Three Choices Of Electric Underfloor HeatingBest For Type Of Flooring
Foil MatLaminate
MattingStone / tile regular shaped rooms
Loose WireStone / tile awkward shaped rooms

Water / Wet Underfloor Heating System

Wet systems are connected to the central heating system in your home. This is through a network of pipes that run hot water under your feet.

Three Things To Know
Hot water is pumped via pipes underneath, with a new surface laid on top.
No joints as it uses continuous pipes, meaning no leaks.
Most boilers are compatible if they have the available capacity .

Underfloor Heating Costs

Costs will vary depending on numerous factors, such as property size, how new the building is and the type of system you’re installing.

Underfloor Heating Costs In New Builds

Wet systems usually cost between £5,000 and £7,000 for new builds.

Electric System Costs

You’ll normally see that it is a lot cheaper to install an electric system over a water system. Roll out mats for underfloor heating costs around £170 for 10 square meters. For pre-fitted underfloor heating mats, you’ll be looking at £75 per square metre and for loose cables £100 per square metre.

Remember there will be added costs for the insulation board, heating controls and screed. Of course, there are costs for a qualified electrician too.

Water-Based Systems Costs

Again, prices will vary depends on factors. There are more factors for water-based systems, such as what floor you’re wanting for underfloor heating, how close it is to the boiler and what company you use. You will usually see it costing more for a wet system compared to electric systems.

What Is The Best Temperature For Underfloor Heating?

This is down to personal preference; some people would want their heating higher than others. The most common temperate used is 21°C for living rooms and bedrooms, a lower temperature of 18°C is the most popular. It is best to test different temperatures and find which one suits you the most, you may find a lower temperature is better, saying some money on energy bills.

Can I Install Underfloor Heating Under Carpet?

Most floors can have underfloor heating installed and carpet is no exception. However, there are some points to consider, such as the carpet having a thermal resistance lower than 2.5 tog. However, most carpets have a thermal resistance lower than 1 tog, but it always good to check beforehand.

What Is The Cost For Running Underfloor Heating?

You may see a difference in running costs for the two main types of underfloor heating. This may be a deciding factor in what system you choose.

Water / Wet Underfloor Heating Running Costs

With higher installation costs, wet underfloor heating is normally the cheaper option when it comes to running costs. They are usually more efficient making it cost less to run, plus it uses gas, which is a cheaper fuel than electricity.

Electric Underfloor Heating Running Costs

Electric underfloor heating can be 3 or 4 times more expensive to run than wet systems. This is due to electricity costing more than gas. Dry systems are usually used in single rooms, such as a kitchen or bathroom. It may be a good idea to look into renewable electricity contracts as they are sometimes cheaper and better for the environment.

Do I Need Planning Permission For Underfloor Heating?

In most cases, no, you won’t need planning permission. If you live in a significant historic building or a listed property, then you may need to ask for planning permission. It is always good to speak with neighbours beforehand and if the underfloor heating is going into a new room, it may need to meet certain building regulations.

How Long Does Underfloor Heating Take To Warm Up?

This depends on the type of underfloor heating you have and also the type of flooring you have. Normally, you’ll expect to wait around 2 to 3 hours for underfloor heating to warm up.

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