At UK Screeds, we are often asked why we install water-based underfloor heating in conjunction with our liquid screed in Gloucestershire, and the answer is actually very simple. Overall, the running costs of water-based underfloor heating are going to be considerably lower than using electricity.
The problem is that electricity tariffs are only going one way, and it is not downwards. Now, electric underfloor heating certainly has advantages over and above a radiator system, and it also has the benefit of being less expensive to install than a water- based system. With electric underfloor heating you either have a heating wire which runs under the floor surface or a heating mat which has the wires built into it. All you need to do is to roll out the heating mat and connect it to the electricity.
A water-based system uses heating pipes and a pump. The water is heated by a heat source, which could be your boiler, a ground-source or air source heat pump, or perhaps solar panels. The hot water is then pumped through the system and around and then re-heated. Now this does take a little longer to install than an electric system, and as we said, it does cost a bit more. However, the system will very quickly pay for itself once it is up and running, and then the savings go on for as long as the building is in use.
Certainly, if you only want to heat a small area such as a bathroom, you might consider an electric system, but for larger rooms or even the whole house, the water-based system wins hands down.
You Will Need A Screed
Of course, you do need a screed to cover the heating pipes, and this is where our liquid screeds are also a vast improvement over the traditional sand and cement type of screed. One of the reasons is that a liquid screed can be laid considerably thinner than sand and cement, so there is a saving on the material itself. Liquid screeds work out at about 50% more than sand and cement, but the fact that you need less of it balances the difference out somewhat.
Another very important factor is that liquid screeds will totally envelop the heating pipes on a water-based system, which sand and cement usually will not do. It is very difficult to completely cover the heating pipes when you are using a trowel by hand to level out the surface at the same time. This means that there will be voids in certain areas, which in turn means that the heat transfer into the room will not be completely even.
Of course, the fact that the screed is laid thinner also means that when you turn the heating on, the screed, and therefore the room, will warm up faster, thus saving on heating bills. In addition, when you use a liquid screed, the actual heat conductivity of it is almost twice that of sand and cement, again resulting in less energy to heat the room, which in turn means further savings.
Those are just some of the reasons why a liquid screed is so superior to a sand and cement screed, which is really so “20th century”. The actual speed of laying a liquid screed saves a huge amount on labour costs, because we use a pump and hose to pump the screed into position. Compared with a worker on hands and knees levelling out a sand and cement screed, it works out at about 20 times as fast!