Underfloor heating: The benefits
Do as the Romans did
Underfloor heating, also known as radiant heating, uses a lower temperature than standard radiators, hence heating costs are reduced and approx 15% savings on heating bills can be achieved, thanks to the efficient way it warms a home.
Our underfloor heating systems require little or no maintenance, making the ongoing and long term costs lower still.
The systems are invisible and depending on the heat loss of your room, frees up wall space as bulky radiators are not needed. This gives you more space to be used and enjoyed.
Of course underfloor heating is by no means a new idea. The closest thing to the type of central heating we are familiar with today was used during the Roman Empire, only in their interpretation the heat was distributed from an underground fire throughout a space beneath the floor… and powered by slave labour! That idea might be somewhat harder to sell in this day and age.
Underfloor heating: The options
There are basically two types of radiant underfloor heating, electric and water-based systems. Both provide heating in a room from the floor up for consistent, efficient warmth.
Warm water systems run hot water through pipes to create heat, whereas electric underfloor heating heats wiring beneath the floor to generate heat.
Make the most of your living spaces
Underfloor heating gives you the freedom to design your home as you wish, making the most of all the wall and floor space. And you’re still free to choose the floor type that you want as floor heating works well with laminate, wood, tile, stone, carpet and more.
When you have underfloor heating, you no longer need to worry about sharp edges or hot surfaces of radiators when younger family members are in the house. The heating system is safely tucked out of the way and won’t get too hot to the touch.
Effortless to run… and smart!
Once installed, underfloor heating needs virtually no maintenance and comes with a lifetime guarantee for total peace of mind.
Heating controllers are available which will ensure that your heating runs in the most efficient manner either automatically with a Smart WiFi Thermostat, or, if you wish, with a programmable thermostat that can be programmed to ensure the heating comes on at certain times, giving you the option to switch it off at night time.
The benefits for air quality
Radiant heat is also much better for the air quality in a room since it keeps the air fresh and oxygen-rich. On the other hand, high temperatures caused by radiators increase discomfort and reduce oxygen levels.
The thermal circulation from air rising to the ceiling and then back gets all the dust going in circles which will not happen with a floor heating system.
Do as the Romans did!
The Romans are credited with the invention of the first underfloor heating system.
The ever-innovative ancient Romans are credited with the invention of the first underfloor heating system. It was known as the hypocaust system which distributed the heat from an underground fire throughout a space beneath the floor.
Hypocausts were vital to the ancient Roman system of central heating, and according to some historians, it was the first underfloor heating technology in human history.
The floor was raised above the ground by pillars, called pilae, made of brick, mortar or concrete, usually about two feet high so that hot air could circulate under it.
A furnace composed of a continuously burning fire would be built under one corner of the room, so the hot air would circulate under the floor and inside flues built into the walls and warm the room. This hot air also succeeded in warming the upper floors of the building.
However energy efficient it may have been it might not be deemed quite so politically correct in this day and age as it required slave labour to fuel, monitor, and clean the furnace during the day.
Of course, it was not sophisticated as today’s modern underfloor heating systems but, technologically, it was very advanced in that period.
This system was usually used for heating public bath houses and only the wealthier Romans could afford to have such a system in their residences. With the decline of the Roman Empire, most public baths fell into disrepair, and the hypocaust was disused.
However, the heating system continued to be built and used in the Early Middles Ages and was adopted for the heating of the hammams, an Islamic variant of the Roman baths.
Above: Hypocaust from a luxury residence, the floor was supported by pillars of round terracotta blocks, Gallo-Roman Museum of Tongeren, Belgium. Photo by Carole Raddato
Traditional radiators need to be heated to a high temperature (between 65-75 degrees Celsius) in order to heat up a room effectively, whereas floor heating only needs to run at a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius or less, depending on the floor finish, in order to warm the room – thereby consuming less energy, and keeping your energy bills far lower.
Radiators heat the air nearest them first, which is why rooms heated by radiators are prone to “cold spots”, meaning that the air feels cold in the middle of the room and very hot next to the radiators. This usually results in opening a window above the radiator to bring some fresh air in, and there we go again, letting all that energy paid to warm up the house escape out of the window. Radiant heat provides warmth from the floor up throughout the room without any cold spots or stuffiness in the area being heated.
In 2015 the Energy Efficiency Regulations for England and Wales established a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented properties. The changes meant that as of April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic properties were required to ensure that their properties reached at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.
As of this year, from 1st April, these requirements will change again. All such rented properties will now be expected to reach an EPC E rating even where there has been no change in your tenancy arrangements. The regulations will also eventually apply to non-domestic properties but not until 1st April 2023.
Initially the intention will be for it to only apply to new tenancies so there will likely be an extended transition period while other tenancies are renewed, at which point the entire rental sector will fall under the same regulation.
To further complicate the issue, the enforcement will handed down to local authorities and there will almost certainly be civil penalties involved as with other landlord regulations, such as the new Energy Efficiency Regulations.