Is Underfloor Heating Worth It? Pros, Cons & Costs
More homeowners are moving towards ‘hidden’ heating systems as they look to remove radiators in favour of increased space around the home. Underfloor heating is one of the most popular options as it offers a modern, cosy and even luxurious way to heat the home, but is it actually worth installing?
We’ve taken a look at the pros, cons and costs of installing underfloor heating to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your home.
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How Does Underfloor Heating Work?
An underfloor heating system is fitted, as you might suspect, under the floor. By heating every inch of the floor at a low temperature (that’s comfortable to walk on) the heat is spread evenly around the room. There are two different types of underfloor heating available: electric and water. Here’s what both have to offer:
- Electric, or ‘dry’ underfloor heating uses a series of electric wires or electric heating sheets to heat the room from either below or within the flooring.
- Water, or ‘wet’ underfloor heating systems circulate hot water under the floor via pipes from the boiler which will then heat the room. If you have a solar water heating system or air source heat pump then you can use them to power the system.
The underfloor heating system will be placed on top of a layer of insulation which ensures that all of the heat travels up into the room and isn’t wasted through the floor.
What are the Benefits of Underfloor Heating?
Underfloor heating can bring many benefits over other heating systems, let’s take a look at what it can offer your home.
Evenly heat the whole room
Underfloor heating doesn’t just mean your feet will be kept nice and warm so you don’t have to wear slippers, they’ll evenly distribute heat from floor to ceiling. Units of a certain size can even heat a larger area than radiators.
More space around the home
You might be surprised by how much more space you can benefit from by just removing radiators. Choosing underfloor heating over radiators will give you the freedom to push sofas, drawers or bookshelves right up against any wall you desire.
A wet system could potentially reduce your heating bills
By operating at a lower temperature than more traditional heating systems, radiators need to be at a high temperature to heat a room, you could soon see a saving in your energy bills if you install a water system. Due to needing electricity to operate, dry systems are more expensive to run.
Works with different types of flooring
Underfloor heating can be fitted under many different types of flooring, including:
- Carpet and rug flooring
While it can be fitted under all of these different floorings, there will be differences in terms of how quickly and efficiently the heat transfers to the surface. You’ll get the best results from a surface that has good conductivity such as tile or stone but there will be a compatible system for just about any type of flooring.
Prevents dust circulating
Not only can dust gather behind radiators, making them hard to clean, they also circulate dust around the room when they’re on. Underfloor heating on the other hand doesn’t do this, which is great news for anyone that suffers with asthma or dust allergies.
Increase the value of your home
Underfloor heating is often seen as a modern and highly advanced way of heating a home, which can give a sense of luxury to potential buyers if you’re looking to sell your home.
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What are the Cons of Underfloor Heating?
While there are several pros to underfloor heating, it’s also worth making a note of the cons before making your final decision.
Cost of installation
The system itself comes with a reasonable price tag but the cost of installation could soon add up. Unless you’re having work done on your floors at the time of installation, or are moving into a new build where you can have the system fitted immediately, it could prove costly.
Longer time to heat a room
As underfloor heating operates at a low temperature, it will inevitably take longer to heat the room from the bottom to the top.
Restrictions on where some furniture can go
With electric systems, furniture that’s flat across the bottom can’t be placed on an area of the floor where the heating mat or cable is installed, doing so can restrict airflow and cause thermal blocking. The same goes for items that have a tog value over 2.5 such as rugs or bean bags.
Electric systems can be expensive to run
Not only will you need to pay for an electrician to hook the system up to your electricity supply, the overall running costs of electricity are much higher than water.
How Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps can Benefit your Underfloor Heating System
While air source and ground source heat pumps function differently, with air source heat pumps absorbing heat from the air outside while ground source heat pumps extract heat from the ground via pipes, they can bring the same benefits to your underfloor heating system.
Due to the low temperatures required for underfloor heating, air source and ground source heat pumps are an ideal way to heat the system at a lower running cost.
If you want to find out more about ground source heat pumps we have some guides to help you understand how they work, as well as the big benefits and potential disadvantages.
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Which Rooms Can I Install Underfloor Heating into?
Underfloor heating can be installed on both ground and upper floors with the most popular room for installation being the bathroom. You’re not limited to just the bathroom though, as you can have underfloor heating installed all around the home from the kitchen to the living room as well as bedrooms and, as we mentioned earlier, it can be fitted underneath many types of flooring. If you don’t want to completely part with radiators then you can have underfloor heating in some rooms and radiators in others.
How Much Does Underfloor Heating Cost to Install?
Electric systems can cost roughly £75 per square metre for underfloor heating mats, while cable could amount to £100 a metre. The material and installation costs of a water-based system will be higher but electricity costs more to run in the long term.
As well as the type of system you have fitted, there are also many other factors that can have an impact on the cost of underfloor heating installation:
- Whether you’re installing a water or electric system
- Number of rooms and their size
- Removal of any radiators
- If you’re having work done on the floors at the time of installation
Due to all of the different factors that could have an effect on the cost, we highly recommend getting quotes from at least 3 installers to give you the best chance of getting the perfect deal. You can get free quotes from trusted engineers in your area by using Boiler Guide and there’s no obligation whatsoever.
Are any other ‘Hidden’ Heating Systems Available?
If you like the idea of a heating system that doesn’t take up much space but don’t want the heat directly under your feet there are some alternatives:
- Skirting board heating
- Wall panel heating
How Does Skirting Board Heating Work?
The idea of skirting board heating was met with a cold response when pitched by the inventor on Dragons’ Den, but has since become a hot investment. Like underfloor heating, the heat comes from a low point in the room but as it’s not heating an entire floor it will achieve an even heat distribution around the room in less time, which means less energy required and lower energy bills.
To give you an idea of cost, installing skirting board heating all around a 2 bedroom semi-detached home could cost up to £6,000.
How does wall panel heating work?
Installing wall panels around your home gives you the opportunity to heat just a small area of wall or an entire room depending on the needs of your home. They can be fitted into walls, sloping ceilings and many more walls of a complex nature. One great benefit is that they help to prevent mould as they leave your walls warm and dry. Prices tend to start from around £70 per square metre.
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