Many of us still think of underfloor heating in your home as a luxury item. However, there are practical reasons why you might consider installing it. As it offers a high-quality alternative heat source, without necessarily breaking the bank.
As well as the luxury, high-class element to underfloor heating, it’s also versatile and appeals to many homeowners. This is due to its effectiveness as a heat source that works beneath almost all floor types. Typically, this includes wood, laminate, tiles, stone or even carpet.
You have a system that not only warms your home but also increases your usable wall space.
The cost of underfloor heating system in the home varies, depending on
- Size of the property.
- The level of disruptive work required (if it’s an older, existing property).
- The extent to which it will be installed across the property.
- Type of system you choose.
Material and labour costs will vary depending on the area of the country that you live in. London and the Southeast will be more expensive.
All that being said, if you install a complete wet underfloor heating system throughout a standard-sized new build house, you’ll pay in the region of £5,000 – £7,000.
Retrofitting into an existing property will depend on how much additional work is involved.
For an electrical system, roll-out mesh mats start from around £75 per square metre or £100 per square metre for a loose-cable unit. You’ll also need to factor in insulation boards and other costs such as electrician’s fees.
This makes it considerably less expensive to install than a wet system. However, don’t be fooled by that. In the long-term, this is often not the most effective direction to take.
Running Costs to Consider
Wet systems cost a lot more to install, but are more energy-efficient and will typically offer up to 30% greater efficiency than traditional radiators. Resulting in considerably lower running costs than the electric models.
Dry/electric heating systems are excellent if you want to quickly heat the floor. But, aren’t effective at heating a room. This makes them more of a luxury addition to your central heating, and at a cost of around 10p per square metre, it’s common to see a small increase (£10 – £12) to your monthly electricity bill.
On the other hand, wet underfloor heating running costs can have a positive impact on your bills. A well-installed unit will run off the boiler and effectively heat your room to the correct temperature. You’ll also get rid of additional heat sources like radiators.
As mentioned before, given that the UFH can operate up to 30°C lower than radiators for the same heating power, you should see a long-term saving in your bills.
The Different Types of Underfloor Heating
There are essentially two kinds of heating systems to explore. These are:
Dry or electric underfloor systems are a practical, and generally less expensive, option for a DIY project.
They come as heating cables, often interwoven or loosely enmeshed into mats. Alternatively, you might find types that come as film, ribbon or flat cables.
The installer rolls out the mats or cables across the surface of the floor. They are then connected and hooked up to a thermostat and the electricity supply. After which, you lay your flooring over the top.
Where would you use different types of electric heating?
- Loose wire/cables. Ideal for stone or tiled floors, as well as irregularly shaped rooms.
- Mesh Mats. Use these for stone floors, larger rooms or more regular square and rectangular rooms.
- Foil Mats. Use this type of underfloor heating under laminate flooring.
Generally, dry systems such as these are cheaper and less disruptive to install. They also offer faster heating as they are a direct heat source.
How Dry Systems Generate Heat
The series of electric wires within the dry system generates the heat. As a direct heat source from the electricity supply, the floor quickly warms up. However, dry systems don’t efficiently heat the room itself, as you would expect a radiator to do. Therefore, they’re more commonly used for smaller rooms, or underfoot comfort in a bathroom.
This is a much more complex installation. It’s also disruptive if you retrospectively install it to an existing, older property. These systems are typically installed in new builds or if a property is having a complete top-to-bottom renovation.
A wet underfloor system comprises a series of pipes connected directly to the property’s boiler, supplying hot water from your central heating system. You can use any type of boiler with wet underfloor heating, so long as it has a good enough capacity. However, for the most efficient running costs, condensing boilers work best.
Lay plastic pipes on the subfloor before installing the main flooring surface. To minimise the risk of leaks, modern heating pipes have no joints and tend to be continuous.
While installation is complex and involves a high degree of disruption, the result is a heating system that’s considerably more cost-effective in comparison to the dry options. It typically provides an efficient heating source with lower water-heating costs when compared to a traditional radiator. They normally use lower temperature water (between 40 to 65°C for a floor temperature in the mid to high 20s).
How Hot Water Sytems Generate Heat
Wet systems dissipate the heat much more effectively than dry systems. Therefore, they’re better suited to installations on a larger scale across a property. Furthermore, they can offer effective heating of both flooring and the room from beneath a range of different floor types.
The systems generate heat from hot water running through the pipes in a similar manner to a standard radiator. And, like this more traditional form of room heating, wet UFH radiates the heat through the floor and into the room; more efficiently than standard central heating methods.
Where Would You Install UFH?
As a rule, you would install underfloor heating on the ground floor of the property as heat rises. Although, there’s no reason why you can’t install anywhere across the house.
With a wet system, you can install wherever you can lift or remove the floor. Or, of course, in a room space where you have a new floor; such as a new build, an extension, conservatory or following a change in layout in the property.
If you don’t want a major disruption in existing rooms, it’s better to install an electric heating system. The mesh mats can be more easily laid without serious alteration to the flooring or floor heights. This is generally a more realistic choice if you want to install into upper floor rooms.
The Installation Process
1. Take Advice
Installing underfloor heating can be a big job in the house, so don’t go into the work blindly. Ask a professional, who can provide advice on the essential criteria, such as:
- Calculating the temperatures required for the property.
- Ceiling heights and adjustments required.
- Best and most appropriate flooring type.
As always, do your homework when it comes to the suppliers you use; look at online reviews or word of mouth recommendations for reputable local professionals. And it’s always worth getting at least two, and preferably three quotes.
2. Renovation or Applying to Existing Rooms?
This is a big question and the solution will tell you the best way forward with your installation.
If you’re carrying out a major property renovation, you’re more likely to consider a full wet system. Normally, you’d install at an early stage before the new flooring.
You can still install it in an existing room, but be aware that you will lift the existing flooring and replace with new.
The best approach would be to use screed, with your system laid above. Alternatively, a ‘floating style floor’ could be used, with the pipework beneath.
Using this method, you’ll be increasing your workload by altering floor heights, with knock-on effects for the skirting boards, doors, and area of the room.
3. Considering Multiple Rooms?
If you are installing the system across more than one room, work with your supplier to ensure that the design takes into account the different room layouts and floor covering materials.
These considerations will affect the temperature calculations, and ensure each room is heated without additional heat sources.
4. Don’t Forget the Insulation
Installing underfloor heating might initially cost more, but in the long run, it will provide a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution. To achieve this, you need to keep heat loss to a minimum, which is where you use appropriate insulation.
Allow for space for installing the insulation beneath the system. Thus, reducing any heat loss and directing the warmth up and into your room.
5. How to Control the System
As is the case with traditional central heating systems, you must be able to easily control the heat output.
You can do this with thermostatic valves, located in convenient places within your home, typically a spare cupboard or similar.
You can also control modern floor heating systems via Hive units, wireless internet controls and your smartphone.
6. Can I Install Underfloor Heating Myself?
Having asked a professional at the outset, it’s likely you will want to use their expertise to carry out the installation.
That said, DIY installations are certainly possible. Especially if you’re installing the easier electric heating systems.
However, because of the disruption of the complex installation, you need to be very sure of your ability before attempting. In fact, seriously consider using a professional installer if you can.
Underfloor Heating Cost FAQ
Is Underfloor heating expensive to run?
Many people think it is, but surprisingly it’s a very economical form of heating. Many standard underfloor heating systems, will cost only 10p per square metre at full power for six hours.
Is underfloor heating more expensive than radiators?
Underfloor heating is more expensive to install than radiators but is much cheaper when considering running costs. This is because ‘underfloor’ gives the same heat output at a lower temperature.
Does underfloor heating increase property value
Definitely yes. Although it’s expensive to install, the running costs are very much less than traditional central heating. Anyone considering buying your home will benefit from the pre-installed system. Because, they won’t have to install it themselves, and they’ll have decreased running costs.
What is the best flooring for underfloor heating?
Any floor covering with high thermal conductivity, such as stone or ceramic floor tiles is the best material to use. Next, comes wood laminate. Probably, carpet is the worst floor material.
Can you put carpet over underfloor heating?
Yes, but the supplier needs to factor this into the calculations while designing your system. The carpet will insulate the heating system from the room above, so obstructing the flow of heat.
Underfloor heating may seem like a luxury item for a more opulent lifestyle. Of course, installing an electric system to the bathroom might be a luxuriant touch when walking barefoot in the winter. However, for many people, installing a wet underfloor system offers a more practical and energy-efficient solution for the home. A way of heating your home effectively and more efficiently than traditional radiator-based central heating units.
It can certainly be a complex, disruptive and costly thing to install. This is why it is typically introduced into new builds, either through DIY or via a reputable installer.
However, once installed, you have a long-term domestic heating solution. It’ll save you space, generate exceptional ambient comfort all year round, and go a long way towards reducing your energy output with reduced costs.
We check all our professionals’ backgrounds to ensure they are qualified and experienced. So, if you want a quote for underfloor heating, fill out the form on our site and we’ll ask up to three people to get in touch with you.