Benefits of underfloor heating: which system is the right one for you?

During the colder season, underfloor heating offers an alternative way of keeping your home toasty warm. There are two types of underfloor heating – learn more about their benefits and decide which right one for you.

Underfloor heating systems – which sit beneath stone, tile, wooden or carpeted surfaces – can work as a substitute to radiators for delivering central heating in the home.


Electric or water?

There are two main types of underfloor heating systems: electric underfloor heating, also known as a dry system and water, pump-driven, underfloor heating, also known as wet system.

Electric underfloor heating

A series of electric wires are fitted beneath the flooring, usually on top of a layer of screed to ensure the surface is completely flat and a layer of floor insulation that keeps the heat travelling upwards rather than down. Electric floors are compatible with nearly all-flooring types and easier, cheaper and quicker to install than the wet heating system. You will need a qualified electrician to connect the system to a main supply, and fit a sensor to connect to the thermostat. This enables you to control the temperature as you please and turn the system on or off.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) does not recommend this form of underfloor heating for large areas, as it is expensive to run – particularly as it is not beneficial to use in conjunction with an off-peak electricity tariff. 

Overall electric underfloor heating is cheaper to install than the wet system, with heating mats starting from around £75 per square metre. You will then need to include the cost of insulation board, screed and heating controls as well as a labour charge for the work of an electrician. However if you are a confident DIY-er, you should be able to lay a ready-to-roll electric mat yourself, making a saving on this particular cost. 

Get more tips on how to improve your home on a low budget

Water underfloor heating

A water-based underfloor heating system can also be installed beneath stone, tile, wooden or carpeted surfaces. With this option, a series of pipes connected to your boiler circulate hot water throughout the floor, heating the entire surface area.

Although suitable for use beneath most floors, you must remember to leave enough space to fit the piping. This may mean that a floor will need to be elevated, and is the reason why most water-based underfloor heating systems are installed with new floor constructions, where the floor can be built with enough room to support the pipework.

According to Energy Saving Trust, water-based underfloor heating is more energy efficient than radiators and costs less to run. With this system, heat is more evenly distributed and water is used at a lower temperature. However it can be an expensive option, and you will need a heating engineer or underfloor heating  specialist to complete the installation. 

Costs could run into thousands of pounds depending on the system , and with efficiency savings relatively low (around 3% of £20 a year on energy bills), water-based underfloor heating is ultimately the costlier option of the two.

Learn how to save energy and money in the cold season

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