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Is underfloor heating worth the money?

Underfloor heating is a fantastic way to keep the house warm, but does it pose as a reliable alternative to standard heating systems and is it worth the money?

Underfloor heating involves the use of either a water based or electrical system. In the ‘wet’ water system hot water is run through pipes to transfer heat, whereas in the ‘dry’ system electric coils are used to generate heat.

In this
guide:

Some pros and cons of underfloor heating

Pros:

  • Produces a radiant heat, meaning that the heat is evenly distributed across all parts of the room. Radiators heat a room by using the principles of convection where air around the radiator is heated up, causing it to rise. This hot air will eventually cool and will fall, just to be heated up again later. This causes hot and cool spots which can be more uncomfortable due to inconsistencies in the temperature.
  • Works at a lower temperature than a radiator. For a radiator to heat the opposite side of the room that it’s in, you must set it to very high temperatures, whereas underfloor heating can be set to a much lower temperature on a thermostat. This saves money as it is more energy efficient. It also prevents heat wastage - if radiators heat a room too much you may feel the need to open a window to cool the room down again. This is wasted heat energy and hence wasted money.
  • Aesthetic. You don’t have to worry about chunky radiators making your room look ugly anymore as the heating system is under the floor. You also get more design freedom as you won’t have radiators blocking spaces where you may have wanted to put a piece of furniture.

Cons:

  • The biggest drawback to underfloor heating is the installation cost. Although your bills will be cheaper, the cost to fit the heating in the first place will be very high, and it can take a very long time to make that money back on saved bills.
  • It can take a long time to heat up. It is therefore necessary to set up a timer system in rooms that you want to use the heating in.
  • Floor heating systems typically increase the height of the floor in a room by a few centimetres. This could increase even more depending if you also want to install insulation around the system (which we recommend). This could be an issue if you have fittings or built in furniture that would prevent the floor from being raised.

What’s the actual cost?

Costs will vary greatly and mainly depend on whether you opt for an electric or water-based system. Costs also depends on how many rooms you want to heat, the age of the house and the material of the flooring.

Electric systems typically cost around £75 per square meter for pre fitted underfloor heating mats. Loose electric cables will cost around £100 per meter. Water based systems cost a lot more, and prices can run into thousands of pounds for small areas of space.

If you decide to get it fitted using someone else, installation costs will incur. Electrician fees, heating controls and additional insulation will also increase the price.

What is better – water or electric based?

Electric systems are much easier to install and can actually be installed DIY, whereas water-based system require an expert to be called in. Electric systems are also much cheaper to install than water-based systems, so this needs to be strongly considered as well. However, water-based systems are more energy efficient and cheaper to run as they only need water at a fairly low temperature.

The type of heating that you opt for can also depend on the type of flooring you have.

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