Underfloor heating does exactly as is states: heats a room/building via a heating system underneath the floor. Underfloor heating is generally thought of as a new innovation, but it has been used for centuries in different parts of the world. It is suitable for all types of property, whether residential or commercial, and can be easily linked to an existing heating system.
The advantages to using underfloor heating are:
• An even heat distribution can create a more comfortable living environment: the feet are kept warm, the head is cooler and there aren’t any cold or hot spots in the room, as often associated with other heating systems.
• Energy efficient: with good insulation, the room thermostat can be set 2 – 3°C lower than a room heated by radiators. Research has shown that when the feet are warm, the overall temperature of the room can be reduced. This can result in a saving of approximately 15 – 60% on fuel bills.
• Improved indoor air quality: reduction of dust circulation and an increase in the relative level of humidity by approximately 12%. Consequently this can reduce environmental triggers for asthma suffers.
• Freedom for innovative interior design: no ugly radiators and pipes give more space and freedom for the interior design of any building. This benefit of underfloor heating is of particular importance when an historical building needs to be heated, without modern utilities being visible.
• Easy to install and cost effective: underfloor heating can be fitted as a DIY project, or by professionals.
• Compatible with other green energy efficient heat sources e.g. heat pumps, solar, and condensing boilers.
Any type of floor finish or covering is suitable with underfloor heating, although there are few points to keep in mind. For a stone or tiled floor finish, ceramic, quarry or flagstone, such as Athena Stone Tiles, will ensure optimum heat output. With a wood finish, such as laminate, hardwood or chipboard, a maximum depth of 22mm should be used. If a carpet covering is used with underfloor heating, the total carpet thickness, which includes the underlay, must not exceed 12mm.
There are two types of underfloor heating to chose from: wet (water) or dry (electric). Wet systems circulate warm water through a series of pipe loops under the floor. They can be integrated easily into a property’s existing hot water system, and mixed and matched with radiators if underfloor heating is not required in every room. However, wet systems can be very expensive to install within an existing property, because the floors have to be taken up before the system can be put in.
Electrical underfloor heating is ideal for existing properties, due to the heating system being laid on top of the existing floor, and then covered with the floor covering of choice. Electric underfloor heating can be bought in the form of cable systems: a basic heating cable, flat cables, or woven mats. The temperature is controlled with a built in thermostat and/or timer. Automatic thermostats, rather than a manual one, have been shown to further increase energy savings because they can regulate themselves; particularly useful when the building is empty for any length of time. An electric underfloor heating system can be fitted as a DIY project, which will save money on labour costs, but a qualified electrician must connect the cables or mats to the main electrical system.