Winter is fast approaching in the UK. Whilst there are genuine concerns about the rising cost of electricity, many people are also worried about the effects that being exposed to colder weather in their homes will have on their health and overall well-being.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to keep the warmth in, and coldness out of your residence. These include installing a door sweep, putting down rugs and sealing up drafts.
But with temperatures sometimes dipping into the negatives during December and January, an increasing number of people are now looking to install underfloor heating.
In this article, we will answer questions like, what options for underfloor heating systems are there? How much does underfloor heating cost? And what are the pros and cons of installing underfloor heating?
So, if this is something you are interested in doing, hopefully, you will find this information helpful.
What options are there for underfloor heating systems?
For those who want to include an underfloor heating system in their home, there are two options available.
Wet underfloor heating systems take the form of a network of polyethene barrier pipes which are laid underneath the flooring and connected to your boiler.
Supplying the system with warm water, the temperature is controlled by an underfloor heating thermostat. As the water pipes are distributed evenly across the floorboards, it makes it a much more energy-efficient and economical mechanism than the traditional type of radiators that are attached to walls.
However, installation costs tend to be high as these pipes and an underfloor heating manifold need to be installed by an expert, as leaks and other damage could occur if they are not fitted properly.
The alternative to this wet system is electric underfloor heating. A more modern solution to staving off the cold, it takes the form of ready-made mats like these with thin heating wires that lay underneath the floor and warm it up when the system is turned on.
Overall, it is easier to install these types of mats, so should involve cheaper labour costs, especially as they are a better option for unconventional-shaped rooms.
How much does underfloor heating cost?
The cost of installing underfloor heating depends on several factors. These include the type of floor cover you have and the general state of your property.
It also includes the specific underfloor heating system you are after, the number of rooms you want to have it put in and the labour costs of your installer.
According to Checkatrade, you can expect to pay between £60 - £85 per m2 for an electric system during a home renovation. For a new build, the cost should be nearer to £50 - £75.
By contrast, a wet system might set you back £135 - £185 per m2 if installed during a renovation, and around £120 - £135 in a new build.
As you can see, a wet underfloor heating system is typically more expensive to install. However, they cost less to maintain in comparison to an electric system, as electricity costs more than natural gas.
In terms of the costs of running underfloor heating, Checkatrade estimates that this could be between £26.60 - £30 per month to warm up a 10m2 floor area for 4 hours.
However, this figure does depend on the size of your home, how big the floor space is that accommodates the underfloor heating, the rates imposed by your energy provider and how well-insulated the floor is, amongst other factors.
Pros and Cons
Like with any major home renovation project, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons before committing to and funding the work.
When it comes to underfloor heating there are several benefits to installing it, as well as a handful of drawbacks that you should be aware of. They include the following:
Pros of underfloor heating:
- Very energy efficient
- Requires little effort to run
- Works with all types of floor coverings
- Provides you with room greater space and design flexibility
- Easy to install (by a professional)
- Provides more safety and comfort than radiators
- Has health benefits
Cons of underfloor heating:
- Can be costly to install
- Can take a bit of time to installation
- Not everyone will appreciate the increase in floor height and reduction in ceiling height.
What you need to know
If you are thinking of getting underfloor heating installed within your property you should be mindful that in the UK, underfloor installations are included in Part L of the building regulations.
This regulation addresses energy efficiency. In other words, increasing solar energy use in both renovation projects and new builds, and a reduction of the number of fossil fuels used.
While you do not require planning permission to put in an underfloor heating system, you are obliged to ensure the system is up to code, as per the U-value requirements outlined in Part L.
A U-value is a unit of measurement that details how effective sections of a building are in terms of insulation.
According to Part L, all floors should hold a U-value of 0.25w/m2k or less. In terms of floors where underfloor systems are being put in, the U-value needs to be no higher than 0.15w/m2K.
To ensure these conditions are met, underfloor insulation boards should be installed below the heating system to minimise heat loss.
As well as keeping you warm, you may be surprised to learn that underfloor heating has some health benefits too. Most notably that it is allergen friendly.
As it sits under the floor surface it has a positive effect on the overall quality of the air in your home.
It does this in a couple of ways. Firstly, underfloor heating does not serve to circulate air. Therefore, the air in your room remains oxygen-rich and very fresh. This means that it does not circulate dust either.
Secondly, another significant health benefit of underfloor heating is that it maintains a comfortable environment, temperature-wise, that does not support viruses, bacteria, moulds, or dust mites.
In conclusion, there definitely appears to be some major benefits in adding underfloor heating to your home.
However, you should still be mindful of the costs included in the installation and running of these heating systems.