The Essential Guide to Underfloor Heating

BIG-warm-houseIn the midst of one of the coldest winters in recent memory, it’s understandable that the general public are looking to alternative methods to keep themselves warm. Running the radiators at mark 5 all winter is far from cost-effective and while it’s true that there are few things in life more pleasant than sitting around a roaring fireplace, many modern homes are simply not equipped to handle them. Underfloor heating on the other hand is an ingenious solution that actually heats the floor beneath your feet, which takes advantage of the scientific principal of ‘heat rising’ and keeps your feet toasty warm, wherever you happen to be in the house.

How It Works

Underfloor heating works either through water pipes or electric coils, which are installed beneath your homes floorboards. In the case of the water pipes, hot water is pumped through them, warming the floors. The heat will then rise upwards slowly until the room is at a perfectly comfortable temperature. The concept of underfloor heating is actually older than conventional central heating. The Romans experimented with devices known as ‘hypocausts’, that were placed underneath buildings and baths and underfloor heating has been common in certain parts of Northern Europe for decades.

Pros

  • There will be no cold spots or droughts as the large surface area of the floor means that the heat is spread more evenly around your home. It also means that the rise in temperature will never be ‘too much’.
  • No ugly radiators spoiling your home. Also besides saving yourself the eye-sores, no radiators means more space.
  • Underfloor heating has been known to supply a more ‘pleasant’ heat than radiators as the heat is far more gentle and less constrictive.
  • Very little heat is wasted as the heat is concentrated towards the lower sections of the room.
  • Well insulated homes using underfloor heating will save a significant amount of energy and money over radiators, especially if the homes have a heat pump installed.
  • Underfloor heating is far safer than radiator, which could pose a risk of serious burns or asphyxiation, especially in homes with small children and animals.
  • Underfloor heating is also more hygienic than conventional central heating as it is odorless and doesn’t create any fumes. It’s especially beneficial for those that suffer with asthma.

Cons

  • The effects of underfloor heating are far from instantaneous. In fact, it can take as much as a few hours for the effects to really be felt. Most systems can of course be programmed to remain on 24/7, but this is hardly cost-effective.
  • Underfloor heating is more expensive than a radiator system and in most cases, a radiator system will already be installed anyway. Radiators cool down faster too though.
  • Considerations will need to be taken with your flooring as while most types of flooring can be used with underfloor heating, there are exceptions. It also won’t work at its optimum level (though it will work) through wooden flooring, which is unfortunate as wooden flooring is incredibly common.

Different Types

Your choice in underfloor heating system effectively comes down to either ‘wet’ or ‘wire’. As the name suggests, a wet system using hot water from your central heating system to pump into plastic pipes that are laid beneath the floorboards. Wire systems on the other hand are electrical mesh-mats that are wired up to your thermostat and mains. Wire systems are easier to install and control but wet systems are generally more effective and cost less to run. Whichever you choose will depend very much on your situation as installing a wet system can be a costly and laborious task.

Installing

Electrical underfloor heating systems are relatively simple to install as the mats are quite flat, meaning the floor doesn’t need to be altered in any way to accommodate it. There are even some cheaper systems than can be placed underneath rugs and carpets on top of your hardwood floors. Installing a wet system on the other hand will require having the floorboards taken up, meaning that it’s not really recommended as a DIY job unless you have a fair amount of experience and are confident with quite complicated plumbing work.

This article was written by Amy from Juice Electrical Supplies. Amy has a passion for green living and works with Juice because of their energy efficient approach to heating and powering the home.

Image Credit: beforeitsnews.com

1 Response

  1. July 28, 2015

    […] The Essential Guide to Underfloor Heating […]

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