Richard Harvey, Category Director for Heating at Wolseley, examines why underfloor heating has never been as popular as it is this heating season.
Underfloor heating was once considered the preserve of the rich who needed to heat large rooms in large houses. However, in keeping with the current trend in home décor, more customers today are looking to combine rooms to create a spacious and fresher look.
This means that a larger surface area needs to be heated to ensure a constant and sustained ambient temperature, the perfect opportunity for installers looking to expand their knowledge of underfloor heating, and to capitalise on customers looking for an alternative to radiators.
For many years, the perception has been that underfloor heating is best suited to newbuild properties, or leisure businesses, such as spas and hotels.
While there has definitely been an increase in the use of underfloor heating in newbuild properties – mainly because of the need for a screed floor to be laid, improved aesthetics, and the increase in tiles and laminate floor coverings – underfloor heating is no longer the preserve of modern homes.
These days, it is possible to install underfloor heating in older properties, and even in apartment blocks. Here are some options for achieving the best underfloor installation:
Aluminium diffuser plates are the best option for joisted floors. These are sheets of aluminium with preformed grooves, which carry the hydronic pipework. These are usually installed on wooden joists, making it ideal for installation either on ground or upper levels of a house or apartment block.
Due to the current trend of combining rooms together in a house, the need for underfloor heating to fit around the customer’s needs has meant there is a solution to older period houses. A low-profile sheet material, such as Microboard from Myson, offers the retrofit solution needed.
Manufactured with preformed grooves, Microboard is installed straight over the top of existing floors, even solid ones. As it is only 18mm deep, it barely changes the height of the floor, making it a great solution for established properties.
Bathrooms and cloakrooms are already restricted in terms of space. Radiators offer a great heat source, but also take up valuable room. Electric underfloor heating is an alternative option to the hydronic system, consisting of a woven mat which carries electrical wires that emit the heat required.
Installers can carefully place the ‘mat’ into shape, lay it over the existing floor, and easily fix it into place. Working alongside the installers, electricians can help ensure the sensors and controls are correctly fitted and working correctly. This needs to happen before the new laminate or hardwood flooring is laid on the top.
Electric underfloor heating is particularly beneficial when the rest of the heating is turned off and the house is colder, especially during the winter months.
Some homeowners like the idea of having a combination of standing radiators and underfloor heating together. This is perfect within a multi-generational home where there are lots of differing heating needs within bedrooms. In the case of the bathroom, towel warmers are still very much a popular choice as they are in keeping with current trends.
There are environmental advantages in pairing smart controls with underfloor heating. Underfloor heating offers some strong green credentials, as it is considered 25% more efficient than water-filled radiators.
Combined with smart controls, underfloor heating could offer greater efficiency savings, with the latest stats showing an improvement of between 20–30%. Installers can be reassured that there is minimal set up required for smart controls, since the technology is wireless and can be controlled almost immediately by the user.
With the growing popularity for sustainable and greener products for the home, underfloor heating is certainly a trend that installers should be looking to promote.