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?

'Is an air source heat pump a good option for your home heating?' blog post banner

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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