should I install underfloor heating?

During my time as an energy consultant both domestic and commercial clients ask advice about underfloor heating. Specifically I have been asked by a client in Croydon about the health aspects, a client in Bromley about the money saving aspects whilst a client in Southeast London was interested in the visual aspects.

Under floor heating (UFH) is increasingly popular in homes throughout Europe due to the benefits for health, energy efficiency, visual appeal, space saving and cost effectiveness.
Under floor heating in domestic properties is most commonly used in bathrooms although it is also a popular choice for extensions and conservatories or anywhere wall space is limited or there is a desire to maintain a high standard of visual appeal without wall mounted radiators spoiling the look. In public and commercial buildings it is often installed where the ceiling height is higher than normal such as sports halls, churches etc.

How Under Floor Heating Works
Under floor heating has been used since Roman times as a central heating system and it is simply a set of pipes, generally specialised polypropylene piping, through which heated water passes (or air passing through ducts in the roman times). It effectively turns the floor into one big radiator
Whilst the UK tinkered unsuccessfully with electrical UFH in the second half of the last century electrical UFH is now out of favour. Current thinking suggests any type of water heater can be used to provide the heat for a UFH system. The method that is gaining popularity, of late, is a solar powered water heater with a gas boiler as backup.
The heating pipes are installed in one of 3 primary methods:

  • Hung between floor joists in specialised hangers
  • Embedded into a cement based screed
  • Laid into especially designed polystyrene insulation pads laid on top of solid floors

UFH works most effectively when there is a layer of insulation between the heating pipes and the external heat loss area.
A warm floor creates warm air convection and this in turn heats the surrounding living space. Under floor heating is an exceptionally straightforward but highly effective way of providing a comfortably warm indoor climate with an even distribution of heat.

Five Reasons to Choose an UFH System for your Home

  • Comfort
    Human beings tend to feel warmer if their feet are warm and the heat radiating from the floor upwards is far more evenly distributed than heat that emanates from wall mounted radiators. Heat from wall mounted radiators is confined
  • Cost effectiveness and energy efficiency
    Under floor heating systems can give you a 15-40% energy saving over traditional heating methods. Because the heat is kept in the used area, close to the floor, many people find no appreciable difference in comfort when the temperature is reduced by 2-4oC. In fact the lack of and obvious heating/cooling cycle create, for many, a far more stable environment
  • Ease of control
    One of the most efficient ways to heat a building is to provide individual room controls called zones. With an UFH system, the temperature of individual rooms may be programme controlled allowing far greater flexibility and comfort
  • Health
    Under floor heating helps to keep moisture content levels low which mean that house dust mites may be reduced. Also because the floor is no longer the coldest part of the room a far greater range of floor coverings can be used such as wood, marble, granite, leather tiles, polished screed and many more
  • Space and Aesthetics
    Under floor heating saves space and offers heightened visual appeal in a home by eliminating the need for wall mounted radiators. Additionally, wet floors dry more quickly and d├ęcor is maintained due to a lack of damp

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