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Underfloor Heating: A Popular Alternative to Radiators

Underfloor heating (UFH) systems do such an effective and energy-efficient job of warming cold rooms that they are now a popular alternative to radiators, especially in smaller spaces.

Heat is gently emitted through wood, tile, stone, and even carpeted surfaces, eliminating early-morning ‘cold spots’ and improving indoor air quality.

Features and Benefits of Underfloor Heating

Room temperatures are easily controlled to meet a homeowner’s specific requirements, which translates into cost-effective power usage and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Unlike traditional heating systems, which tend to be controlled by a single thermostat, UFH systems offer the flexibility of individual room control, preventing energy waste.

Because all UFH systems are below level: there are no vents or ducts to interfere with a room’s layout, and decreased circulation of airborne allergens reduces the risk of allergy and asthma complications.

Underfloor Heating Types

There are two principal system types: hot-water (otherwise known as ‘wet’) and electric mat (or wired) systems.

Wet systems heat a room by utilising pipes connected to the home’s boiler, which circulate warm water beneath the floor. This type of UFH can also lower energy costs because it uses water at a lower temperature than radiators require. The pipes can even be connected to a solar heating system, adding to its sustainability.

Wired systems consist of cables attached to mesh mats or rolls, which are spread out, connected, and then linked to the house’s thermostat and power supply. They are cheaper to install than wet systems and easier to install, but can be more expensive to run than wet systems.

 

Installation Considerations

For maximum efficiency, the surface beneath the underfloor heating system must be properly insulated, to prevent heat loss and direct all generated warmth upward. With wet systems, there needs to be a space to store the controls, like a dedicated cupboard. Other considerations include desired temperature, type of flooring required, ceiling height, and potential heat loss.

Underfloor heating can be used with practically all floor types. If a carpet is in place, both it and the underlay must have a thermal resistance under 2.5 tog. Timber flooring, along with vinyls and laminates, should be made from base materials specifically recommended for UFH use. Flooring materials such as stone or tiles are all UFH-compatible, but may have different heat-up times depending on the thickness of the material.

Where to Install Underfloor Heating

Although it is typically employed in ground-floor rooms, UFH can work with any type of floor construction provided the base materials and site conditions are correct. Wet systems are easier to install under newly constructed floors or floors that are easy to take up, making it a good choice for conservatories and new extensions. Wired systems are more suitable for existing rooms, as the mesh system layout is flatter and floor heights don’t need to be changed to accommodate it. Some wired systems can even be placed under rugs on existing floors, making them simple to add to upper-floor rooms.

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