Is underfloor heating efficient?
There’s a lot of conflicting information online about whether economical underfloor heating really exists. However, the question, ‘is underfloor heating efficient?’ is easier to answer. Due to its low maintenance, even distribution of heat, and numerous energy-efficient makes and models, underfloor heating is a good investment for the more environmentally conscious among us.
That said, in terms of the economical value and overall performance of underfloor heating, this depends on various factors. For example, the size and layout of the room you want to install it in, the efficiency credentials of the system you buy, and the cost of your electricity. It also goes without saying that the current energy crisis means heating in general is more expensive.
Does underfloor heating increase electricity bills?
Underfloor heating is known to increase electricity bills. This is because it typically uses electricity to power its heating elements. However, as previously stated, the exact impact on your monthly, quarterly or yearly bills will depend on factors such as the size of the room being heated, the efficiency of the system, and the cost of electricity in your area.
It may also depend on how you use underfloor heating and if you’re going to use it as a primary or supplementary source of heat. If you want to reduce your energy bills, consider using alternative energy sources such as geothermal or solar power, which will heat the underfloor elements instead.
Why not ask a professional to calculate the costs and benefits of underfloor heating for your specific home? This will allow you to make an informed decision before you rip up your floors!
Underfloor heating energy consumption
So, does underfloor heating use a lot of electricity? The energy consumption of an underfloor heating system can vary depending on several factors:
- The size and layout of your room: Rooms that are bigger, more open-plan, and have higher ceilings take longer to heat
- Your home’s insulation levels: Homes with poor insulation (e.g., single-glazed windows) lead to greater heat loss
- Heat loss rate: If your building fabric is poor or needs an upgrade, heating will cost you more as it ‘leaks’ out more easily
- Poor temperature control: The higher the temperature on your thermostat and the longer you have your heating on, the more it will cost you
- The cost of electricity in your area: The higher your rates, the more your bills will cost
As a rough estimate, an underfloor heating system in the UK can consume around 20-25 kWh per square meter of space per year. This is based on an average room temperature of 20-22 Celcius and an average cost of electricity of around £0.34/kWh (correct as of the October 2022 price cap).
It’s important to note that these numbers are only estimates and can vary greatly. A detailed energy consumption calculation would take into account factors such as room size, insulation levels, heat loss, and temperature control. A professional can do this calculation for you and give you an accurate estimate of the installation cost.
Energy consumption also depends on how well you maintain the system. A well-maintained and temperature-controlled underfloor heating system offers better energy efficiency.
Take a look at our guide to underfloor heating running costs for more information.
Advantages and disadvantages of underfloor heating
There are several advantages to installing underfloor heating, which include:
- Increased comfort: Underfloor heating provides a more consistent and evenly distributed heat throughout a room, which can make it more comfortable than traditional radiators
- Space-saving: Underfloor heating systems take up less space than traditional radiators, allowing for more flexibility in furniture placement and design
- Energy-efficient: Underfloor heating can be more energy-efficient than traditional radiators because the heat is distributed more evenly and at a lower temperature
- Low maintenance: Underfloor heating systems require less maintenance than traditional radiators
- Increased property value: Underfloor heating can be seen as an attractive feature in a property, which potentially increases its value
On the contrary, there are some disadvantages to installing underfloor heating, which include:
- High installation costs: Installing underfloor heating can be more expensive than traditional radiators
- Long installation time: Underfloor heating often takes longer to install than traditional radiators
- Not suitable for all types of flooring: Underfloor heating isn’t suitable for all types of flooring, such as solid wood or some types of carpets, which can limit design options
- Requires a heat source: Underfloor heating requires a separate heat source, such as a boiler or heat pump, which can add extra costs to the installation, maintenance and running of your systems
- Not suitable for all climates: Underfloor heating may not provide enough heat in extremely cold temperatures
We recommended you ask a professional to determine if underfloor heating is a good fit for your home. They can also offer you a cost-benefit analysis.
Most economical way to run underfloor heating
In our quest to answer whether underfloor heating is economical, here’s how energy-efficient underfloor heating systems can help reduce your energy consumption and lower your heating costs.
Use a thermostat or other temperature control system
Using a thermostat or other temperature control system, you can set the temperature at the lowest comfortable level and turn the heating on and off as needed. This will reduce your consumption and, consequently, your bills.
Zone control your rooms
Dividing your rooms into separate zones and controlling the temperature in each zone, so you only heat the areas in use, will help you reduce your energy consumption.
Use alternative energy sources
Underfloor heating can be powered by alternative energy sources. For example, geothermal or solar power. This can help reduce your electricity bills and decrease your carbon footprint.
Properly sizing the system
A system that’s properly sized for the space it’s heating will be more energy efficient than one that’s too small or large for the area.
Use low-temperature systems
Lower-temperature underfloor heating systems are more energy efficient as they require less energy to heat the space. They’re often used with heat pumps as a source of heat.
Insulating the subfloor and any adjacent spaces can help to reduce heat loss and increase the efficiency of the underfloor heating system.
Regular underfloor heating system maintenance can help ensure it’s running at its most efficient. Consider hiring a heating engineer once a year to make sure everything is working as it should.
Thinking of trying it yourself? Check out how to install underfloor heating.
Is it cheaper to leave underfloor heating on all the time?
No, it’s not generally cheaper to leave underfloor heating on all the time. This is because it can lead to unnecessary energy consumption and higher heating costs. Instead, it’s more cost-effective to use a thermostat or other temperature control system to turn the heating on and off as needed. You should also set the temperature to the lowest level you’re comfortable with.
Consider using a smart thermostat or other temperature control system to help you manage your usage. Doing this can reduce energy consumption and lower heating costs without sacrificing comfort. It’s important to keep in mind that the heating on/off status affects the energy consumption as much as the temperature set point. The lower the temperature, the lower your energy consumption.
Is underfloor heating better than radiators?
Whether underfloor heating or radiators are better depends on what you value. Here are some potential advantages of radiators compared to underfloor heating systems.
- Easier to install: Radiators are typically easier and less expensive to install than underfloor heating systems
- More versatile: Radiators can be used in any room, including bathrooms and kitchens, and can be placed in specific areas where more heat is needed
- Easily replaced: Radiators are easily replaceable, which means that if a radiator breaks down, it can be swapped out quickly and easily
Is underfloor heating cheaper to run than radiators?
Underfloor heating can be more energy efficient than traditional radiators because the heat is distributed more evenly and at a lower temperature. This means that less energy is needed to heat the space, which can lead to lower heating costs. However, underfloor heating can be more expensive to install than traditional radiators.
On the other hand, radiators are typically easier and less expensive to install than underfloor heating systems. They can also be placed in specific areas where more heat is needed, making them more versatile.
Is underfloor heating unhealthy?
Underfloor heating is generally considered to be safe and healthy. However, there are a few potential issues that should be considered:
Dust and allergens
If the underfloor heating system is not properly maintained, it can circulate dust and allergens throughout the room. This is particularly unhealthy for people with respiratory issues.
If the underfloor heating system is not properly installed or maintained, it can lead to excess moisture in the room. In turn, this can create an environment ripe for mould formation.
If the temperature is set too high or the system is not properly controlled, it can lead to overheating. This is uncomfortable and potentially unhealthy because of heat-related illnesses.
Underfloor heating systems can increase radon levels in certain soil conditions. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is radioactive and can cause lung cancer if inhaled in large amounts.
Did you find this blog on underfloor heating efficiency helpful? If so, check out our blog for more expert advice, how-tos and cost guides.