Richard Harvey, Category Director for Heating, Parts, Pumps and Controls at Wolseley, examines growing consumer interest in underfloor heating.

According to recent findings from AMA Research, the underfloor heating (UFH) market will experience a 7% rise this year. This is a great opportunity for installers looking to expand their knowledge of UFH, and to capitalise on customers looking for an alternative to radiators.

Underfloor heating is now seen as a mainstream heating option by more homeowners and businesses than ever before. This perception is favoured greatly by developers and contractors who are looking to convert commercial office spaces into multi-residential flats and apartments.

The confinements of newbuild apartments mean that space is at a premium. UFH allows floor space to be maximised, unlike radiators which require specific floor and wall space to be installed.

Improved environmental comfortability is also a benefit of UFH. With heat radiating from the floor to the roof, there is an ambient temperature around the body. This allows pleasant warmth at a lower temperature than conventional heaters.

Radiators, on the other hand, transfer energy using convection. This heats the air above and around the radiator at a much higher temperature, causing the warm air to rise. This gives an uneven distribution of heat and makes the floor the coolest place in the room.

With the increase of eco-conscious building developers, sustainable homes will look to use UFH as the preferred choice of heating outputs.

It has been estimated that water-filled UFH is 25% more efficient than water-filled radiators. With solar panels, heat pumps and electric cars now part of the wider ‘greener’ consideration for homeowners and businesses alike, it should be no surprise that UFH has been added into the mix.

UFH can also be used to heat specific rooms at any given time, using a heating control with zones. This is great for homeowners and businesses who use a room at a particular time of the day – i.e. using the home office to work from home in the day, but not needing to heat it at night.

Installers can also tap into the growing smart control sector, which has seen enormous growth across both the commercial and domestic sectors. The latest statistics show that there could be additional energy savings of between 20-30% when UFH is used in conjunction with smart control technology.

The advantage for installers is that there is minimal set up and, as smart technology is wireless, it can be controlled almost instantaneously by the user.

The advancement of smart technology has culminated in a ‘smart hub’ – which can connect UFH with other functions in the home. Lighting, music, security, and heating can all be controlled by an app. There is a geolocation feature on most smart hub apps that can even automatically lower the temperature of the building when the last person has left.

Cheaper energy bills are another big sell for installers to pass on to customers. As UFH systems distribute radiant heat, the boiler needs to heat the water to a much lower temperature compared to radiators. Heat is also retained within the floor and this, in turn, makes the boiler much more efficient.

UFH is a credible alternative to radiators and, as a result, one that more and more of our customers are looking to promote to homeowners and businesses.

With the growing popularity for sustainable and greener products for the home and the office, UFH is certainly a trend that installers should be looking to promote.