5 things you should know BEFORE installing underfloor heating

Aerial view of a sofa on a wooden floor

Wave goodbye to radiators and hello to more space and a warm home for less! Underfloor heating is a great choice and if you’re thinking of taking the leap to luxurious warm floors, these are the five things you need to know…

#1 It provides a constant temperature across the home or in individual rooms

Feet in orange & blue spotted socks on a wooden floor

The great thing about underfloor heating is its flexibility. Therefore, it sometimes pays to spend the extra money to get a professional supplier and installation company to not only fit the system but design it for you in the first place.

With central heating, the boiler fires up and sends heat through to all the radiators on the system, unless you switch the radiators off in certain rooms (if you can) or lower the temperature of the radiator with its thermostatic valve.

This gives you some flexibility, but not a lot. Underfloor heating is completely different. You can create single zone underfloor heating areas so that the important rooms in the house are heated when you need them to be but other rooms can enjoy a lower level of heat.

The ability to control your heating at every point of day and night means you save money as well as having a more comfortably heated home.

#2 It’s best fitted with high thermal conductivity flooring

Child playing with a toy digger on a wooden floor

Sounds a mouthful, doesn’t it?! But what does it mean?

It means to get the best from your underfloor heating system, you need a top layer of flooring that’s incredibly efficient in grabbing hold of the heat and keeping hold of it.

This means the system doesn’t need to work as hard. There are many flooring options – wood, laminate, ceramic tile, polished concrete and carpet – that work well with underfloor heating.

It’s true to say that some options work better than others. Polished concrete floors are a great conductor and retainer of heat. Ceramic tiles also work well and some wood flooring solutions are also a great fit.

It’s possible to use carpet but it must be of a low TOG rating to allow heat through it and into the room. However, even then, it’s not so great at hanging on to the heat.

#3 A smart thermostat adds more flexibility & sophistication

Nest smart thermostat

Although we think of underfloor heating as a modern invention, it’s been around for some time. The Romans used ‘fire under the floor’ to heat their bath houses.

Modern day underfloor heating is more sophisticated and flexible but to get even more out of the system, a smart thermostat is a must.

If you have a multi-zone system, you can set different temperatures in different rooms with a few taps of your smart phone – and alter it throughout the day.

Underfloor heating response time is slower than the boiler and radiator approach but that doesn’t mean it’s at a disadvantage. It just means that you plan your heating to fit with your activities from day to day. For that, you need the tools to set the heat of the system as and when.

#4 Correct installation is key

High-gloss kitchen floor
That’s why getting a professional and expert in all thing underfloor heating should install your system, even if they don’t design it.

Wet or water underfloor heating works by a series of pipe loops being laid in the sub floor and hot water circulating through them to heat the floor.

It’s an incredibly simple, yet effective system. But, this doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong when it’s being installed. Discovering that you have a leaking pipe when you’ve already laid the floor isn’t the opportune time to try and repair it.

All wet underfloor heating systems should be pressure tested BEFORE you start pouring high conductivity screed or laying insulation boards to protect the pipes. Once laid, the system will function without a hitch for years to come.

#5 Underfloor heating is a system that you’ll love!

Kitchen diner with wooden floorboard floor

Underfloor heating isn’t for everyone. If you like dry, hot heat that leaves your house stuffy, then underfloor heating isn’t for you.

If you prefer an ambient, constant temperature, as well as a luxuriously warm floor underfoot, then underfloor heating is for you.

However, you’ll need to have some patience. With some installation processes, the screed must dry thoroughly before the heat can be switched on because if you dry out liquid concrete too quickly it cracks. That means the floor isn’t as structurally sound as it should be, leading to problems further down the line. In other words, you may have to wait a week or two before the big switch on.

Underfloor heating suits any property and isn’t as expensive to fit as you’d think either. A proven technology, more and more people are realising the benefits of underfloor heating – why not you?

Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies understands the simplicity of underfloor heating but the amazing benefits it brings to any space, from a single room in a home to multi-zone systems in commercial premises.

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Is an air source heat pump a good option for your home heating?

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Air source heat pump diagramcredit

An air source heat pump (ASHP) works by absorbing heat from the air outside your home. This heat can then be used to heat water, radiators, under-floor heating systems or warm air convectors.

The pump works in the same way as a fridge removes heat from the air inside it and it can extract heat at temperatures as low as minus 15ºC! These pumps do use electricity, so they do have a carbon footprint, but the heat they collect is being constantly renewed.

air source heat pump installed on outdoor deckingcredit

The upsides of air source heat pumps

• Lower fuel bills, particularly if you are replacing electric heating

• You can earn some income though the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

• Smaller carbon footprint

• No fuel deliveries and storage

• Low maintenance

• You can heat your water, or your home, or both

Heat pumps work at lower temperatures over longer periods of time, so you’ll need to keep them on all the time over winter. Your radiators won’t feel hot, like they do with a gas boiler.

How do these pumps work?

Heat from the air is absorbed into a fluid, which is then compressed, raising its temperature. This increased heat is transferred to the house’s hot water or heating circuits.

Semi-detached house heated by an air source heat pumpcredit

I’m interested, but is an ASHP for me?

Ask yourself:

Is there space for it? It needs to be placed outside your house with plenty of clearance for air to circulate around it. A sunny wall is the best place.

Are you well-insulated? ASHPs work best when producing less heat than traditional boilers, so any heat you get needs to be retained.

What’s your current fuel? If it’s gas central heating, your ASHP won’t pay for itself as quickly as if you’re replacing coal central heating or electrical heating.

What heating system will you use? ASHPs work best with under-floor heating systems and warm air systems rather than radiators because of the lower temperatures.

Are you buying a new build or having extensive work done? If so, the pump and new system can be installed alongside the other work, saving money.

House heated by an air source heat pumpcredit

What does it cost to install?

ASHPs cost between £7,000 and £11,000, while running costs vary with house size, how warm you want to be and how well-insulated your home is.

How much will I save?

This depends on what you’re replacing and what you’re replacing it with.

If possible, under-floor heating is better than radiators as it needs lower temperatures. If you can’t do this, then large radiators work well.

You’ll pay for the electricity used to run the pump, but you won’t pay for fuel any longer.

If your old heating system is inefficient, then a new pump will make a difference.

If you’re heating water too, then your heating system will be less efficient and you may need a solar water heating system.

This annual savings table is for a four-bedroomed detached house in England, Scotland or Wales with an average-sized air source heat pump.

•Gas older (non-condensing) – £295-£425

• Electric (old storage heaters) – £715-£1,295

• Oil older (non-condensing) – £360-£555

• LPG older (non-condensing) – £1,200-£1,805

• Coal – £525-£875

You could receive £905-£1,365 in payments from the Renewable Heat Initiative.

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Gimme Five! Radiators

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Selection of 5 radiators

Sometimes product design really bugs me. There are certain things that you just think not enough effort has been put into designing them. Most camper vans fall into this category; we’ve been researching what’s on offer over the last couple of years whilst we’ve been saving for one – and there are certainly a lot of great big, ugly, white boxes on wheels to be found!

For many years, computers were the same – until the gloriously fun, boiled sweet-coloured Apple iMac G3.

There’s a similar problem with the vast majority of modern radiators; great big, ugly, white boxes that you attach to the wall. They occupy so much space in every room of the house – they should be made to be more attractive.

I’d love to replace all the ones in our house with original, reconditioned Victorian or Edwardian cast iron ones. We have 11 radiators in our house, so we’d have to upgrade them one by one… cash flow dependant!

You can, if you scour the ‘net, find brand new ones that are better looking and more stylish than the norm. Here are a few that we found – both new and true vintage – that we’d love to put to work keeping us warm in the chilly months ahead.

  1. Various cast iron radiators: from £11, eBay
  2. iBathUK | 600 x 1200 mm anthracite column designer radiator horizontal double oval panel: £169.99, Amazon
  3. Duett vertical tube horizontal designer radiator (anthracite): from £287.99, Agadon Designer Radiators
  4. Victorian ‘Slim’ cast iron radiators: from £130, Trade Radiators
  5. Sterling Edessa – traditional black 2-column horizontal designer radiator 400mm x 1055mm: £179.99 BestHeating

How to choose the perfect fire for your Connecticut home

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Traditional Connecticut salt housecredit

A good fire should do much more than simply provide warmth for you and your family. It can bring a room to life with its cosy glow or flickering flames. It instantly adds a unique character to the space in which it sits. When choosing the best fire to install in your Connecticut home, it’s important to be aware of all the various options. We’ve put together a list of the different types of fires available in order to help you choose.

Long narrow gas fire in an open-plan sitting roomcredit

Gas fires

If you’re thinking of saving money on your energy bills, gas fireplaces can be excellent choice. You can warm the room you’re sitting in without having to heat the whole house. Gas fireplaces need ventilation, but don’t require a masonry built chimney, so if your property in Connecticut doesn’t have a chimney this may be the best option to go for. There are many different sizes and styles to choose from, and gas fires tend to have the best energy efficiency ratings.

Wall-mounted electric fire with blue backlightingcredit

Electric fires

One of the most convenient factors of an electric fire is that they come ready assembled and simply need plugging in and switching on. They’re very flexible in terms of positioning within the home and because the manufacturer has already selected materials and dimensions, there’s one less thing to worry about. However, if your home in Connecticut is quite large, an electric fire may not be the best option as they only tend to work well in smaller rooms, meaning that using one in a large space usually results in unsatisfactory results and energy inefficiency.

Pair of wooden rocking chairs in front of a traditional open fireplacecredit

Wood fires & stoves

Open fireplaces & wood-burning stoves are traditional and have been used for many years. As well as saving hundreds of dollars on your energy bill, they’re particularly good for adding some character and authenticity to your Connecticut home. You’ll need firewood of course. You could chop your own if you have suitable resources – or firewood can be bought from suppliers and delivered to your door for ease and convenience.

Open fireplace with wood mantelpiece in a kitchen-loungecredit

Themes & styles

When selecting a fire for your Connecticut home, you’ll find that no matter what type you go for, there are a vast array of different styles available – materials too of course. Brick, stone, tile, marble and wood are just some of the different choices available. Select a combination that suits the feel & décor of the room. Many people want a fire that will last a lifetime or many years at least. Therefore, it’s not unusual for homeowners to select a fireplace that has a neutral theme in order to keep it in line with any interior decoration changes or adjustments that may be made in the future. Mantles are also an excellent addition that can add to the character and styling of the room.

Do you live in Connecticut? What kind of fireplace do you have, and why did you make that choice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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10 common underfloor heating questions answered

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lounge area with poured resin floor with underfloor heating

Image credit: Resin Floors North East

Underfloor heating can leave many people puzzled when it comes to ascertaining how they work and how they can benefit those who have them installed. Here we’ve taken the 10 most common questions concerning underfloor heating and provided the answers:

'How Underfloor Heating Works' diagram

  1. What are my options when it comes to underfloor heating?

There are two types of underfloor heating available, electric and wet. Electric underfloor heating consists of heat mats, packed with electric wires that warm up once connected to the mains electric supply and thermostat.

barn conversion loft bedroom with wood floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: William Beard Flooring

Wet underfloor heating utilises plastic pipes under the floor that heat up using warm water from the central heating system.

L-shaped sofa in front of a fire with Indian stone tiles with underfloor heatingImage credit: Llama Developments

  1. Where can I buy underfloor heating?

Your local DIY store probably stocks underfloor heating kits that you can pick up off the shelf, but we recommend that you speak to an expert, such as The Underfloor Heating Store and visit their showroom to witness the benefits of such a system for yourself.

kitchen underfloor heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to install?

Prices vary depending on whether you opt for an electric or a wet system, but you can buy electric heat mat kits from £74.99 or a wet underfloor kit from £239.99. Then there’s the cost of installation, tools and labour for electricians and plumbers: put aside £400 as a starting point.

Tiled floor with underfloor heating in a bathroomImage credit: VIP Plumbing & Heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

This varies on the size of the room and the system used, but you are looking at an average cost of £248 per year, based on 25m underfloor heating running for four hours everyday for a year.

Bedrom with grey walls, tall feature window and wooden floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Architecture Live

  1. Which underfloor heating system is best?

Both systems can heat the room to the same temperature. However, bear in mind that a wet system is cheaper to run than an electric even though it requires more work to install.

Wet systems are also more energy efficient, a traditional central heating system requires the water it uses to be heated to 80°C, whereas an underfloor heating system requires just 45°-60°C and will still heat a room to a comfortable 21°C, with no cold spots. This will save you money in the long run and reduce your carbon footprint.

Grey and yellow kitchen-diner with underfloor heating Image credit: Avocado Sweets

  1. How long does underfloor heating take to warm up?

This all depends on the thickness of the floor, the insulation you lay down and how well insulated the room itself is. The general consensus estimates that it takes around 30 minutes to heat a wooden floor but can take a few hours with an un-insulated, concrete floor.

kitchen with vintage industrial stools on a grey rubber floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Chris Dyson

  1. Can I install underfloor heating myself?

Anyone can install underfloor heating and treat it much like any DIY project. You will, however, require a qualified electrician or plumber to connect your system to the mains electricity or central heating system.

open plan, white-washed, light-filled lounge with wooden floorImage credit: The Bazeley Partnership

  1. What size of kit do I need for my room?

The Underfloor Heating Store recommends that you buy an underfloor heating kit that covers between 80-85% of the free floor space in the room to reduce the occurrence of cold spots. It is also important that you do not order too much if you are using rolled heating mats because you cannot simply cut the cables.

large kitchen with central island and polished tiled floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: DDWH Architects

  1. What floors can underfloor heating be used with?

You can install underfloor heating beneath most flooring solutions, tiles, vinyl, laminate and even carpet can all be laid over underfloor heating, just bear in mind that better insulation is required for thicker floors.

Cream fitted kitchen with tiled floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: P & P Maintenance Services

  1. Can I put furniture on top of underfloor heating?

Most free-standing furniture is fine to place on top of an underfloor heating system. Just be careful when placing items such as thick rugs or dog beds in the room because they can trap heat and cause issues.

Now you know the answers to the most commonly asked questions, it’s time to get your very own kit laid in the conservatory, in the kitchen or even the bedroom and enjoy toasty floors underfoot!

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