More and more people today are becoming aware of the benefits of underfloor heating when compared with old-fashioned radiator systems. Apart from any other considerations, they will cost you less to run than radiators do, and if you use a water-based system with heating pipes that will cost you a lot less than an electric system too.
Many new homes today are being built with underfloor heating as part of the design, but you can also install it in any home. One thing to consider is that when you install it in an existing home, you will lose a certain amount of height in the room but in most cases that is not a serious issue. You have to take up the existing floor, obviously, and then you really need to install a layer of insulation.
On top of this is placed a tanking membrane of fairly heavy polythene and then the underfloor heating pipes or electric cables are installed on top of it. This is then covered in a layer of screed. The thickness of the screed will depend on whether you are using a liquid screed in Bristol or a traditional sand and cement mix, the liquid screed being able to be laid a lot thinner. Of course, if you are building a new home the depth of the insulation and screed can be incorporated into the design in the first place.
Using underfloor heating has many benefits over and above a radiator system. Just to begin with, you don’t have any radiators in the room, so you have more space. Radiators work by convection, so they heat up the air around and above them and, as hot air rises, this goes up to the ceiling (where you don’t really need a lot of heat) and then gets distributed around the room. What this means is that there will be some areas of the room which are colder than others, and that can mean turning up the temperature more and thus using more energy, which in turn means higher energy bills.
Radiators also propel dust and dust mites around the room which is not good for people with asthma or who have allergies. Dust mites will live happily on the floor, especially if you have carpet. However, when you have underfloor heating, it becomes too warm for them to live and breed. Studies have shown that installing underfloor heating reduces dust mites by 80%.
Furthermore, underfloor heating works by radiant heat which warms the whole of the floor. Depending upon the material of which the flooring is made, it can absorb and retain the heat and let it slowly into the room. This is particularly the case with floors such as stone and tile. It uses far less energy to heat the room than radiators do, so there is a really good saving to be made on utility bills. In fact, you can use underfloor heating with almost any type of flooring that you wish, including carpet, wood, vinyl, concrete, laminate, and so on. Because the floor itself is heated, it will retain that heat far more than radiators do, which cool down rapidly when turned off.
Another advantage of underfloor heating is that each room can have its’ own thermostat, so you can turn the heat down, or even off, in rooms that you do not use so much such as a spare bedroom or study. At the same time, you can have the main living areas as warm as you wish.
Another big advantage of underfloor heating systems is that they need virtually no maintenance. Once installed, they shouldn’t need any attention. However, if you are using a water-based system you need to ensure that it is certified to BS EN 1264 standards, which most of them are. These standards are so reliable that companies who install them will usually offer at least a 25-year guarantee.
One thing that you should note is that electric systems are quicker and cheaper to install than water-based systems, but in the long run they are far more expensive to operate. So, for the best all-round performance, choose a water-based system and save money for as long as you live in the home.