From retrofits to new builds, why underfloor heating is a must-have for the home

Paul Simmonds, Digital Marketing Manager at Wunda Group, discusses why specifiers should be looking at underfloor heating to help meet climate change goals.

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With the UK starting on the road to zero carbon emissions, between now and 2050, 20,000 homes a week must meet new standards. This task is set to provide work for thousands of tradesmen for the foreseeable future.

One of the key solutions to these goals is hydronic underfloor heating, as it’s the only system that efficiently runs with new low energy heat sources. It’s already the first choice for many other countries, and has been shown to be 25% more efficient than radiators and is specifically designed for the UK retrofit market.

So how does underfloor heating work compared to other heating systems? Essentially, underfloor heating is like having a radiator in the floor. The heat rises evenly, using the energy to warm the room’s occupants before reaching the ceiling. Other heating systems like radiators work in convection cycles where warm air rises in one section of the room and cools as it reaches the ceiling.

Another appealing benefit for homeowners is that by using a wet system that runs at low temperatures has helped many find relief to arthritis and asthma. Installation of underfloor heating will also add to a home’s value and will be compatible with all energy efficiency legislations.

Homeowners are also able to enjoy extra furniture space and lower heating bills and obtain the peace of mind that their system is future-proof and requires little to no maintenance, making it perfect as a home add-on or in new-build properties. Smart systems can also work with UFH, which further adds to its efficiency.

Despite all its good points, there are some common misconceptions and myths around retrofitting underfloor heating. Underfloor heating used to require digging up floors and relaying concrete, meaning it took a long time to heat up and there was a fear of leaks. With a rapid response overlay system, this is not the case, as it uses leak-proof pipes and can heat up in as little as 20 minutes. With rapid response aluminium, users are able to turn the heat on, off, up or down whenever they please and don’t have to compromise on warmth, all while running at the same energy-saving low temperatures.

For the design-conscious, the need to consider radiator placements is eliminated and allows homeowners to go as open-plan as they want with their house layout. Because of this, underfloor heating provides around 15% more furnishing space in a room and can comfortably warm stone, ceramic and marble tiles, so choosing the right floor finish isn’t an issue. Designers are also offered much greater freedom in settings where appearance is key, and the problem of visible pipes and radiators is removed.

Before retrofitting underfloor heating begins, specifiers should consider things like build-up height, strength of the over floorboard (as this will determine the choice of floor finish), as well as heat up time (determined by pipe spacing, size of pipe and aluminium covering), and speed of install (dependent on the adhesive used to bond the over floor to the existing floor).

All properties are suitable for underfloor heating whether they’re a retrofit, an extension or a new build. Underfloor heating provides comfortable heat through carpets up to two togs, and is also perfect for use under vinyl, laminate, ceramic or stone tiles and are designed to run at temperatures as low as 35-45°C to create a very comfortable atmosphere and to protect floor finishes.

When it comes to combining underfloor heating with other heating systems, underfloor heating is an ideal option as it runs off a central manifold (water distribution centre) that is connected to an existing hot water source. Whether homeowners are keeping radiators upstairs or enjoy the idea of a log fire, underfloor heating is the perfect partner for heat pumps, biomass boilers, solar and all current and future heating technologies.

With climate change targets causing uncertainty for current heating methods, choosing a solution that works with any heat source will give customers peace of mind knowing that they only have to buy once. Wet underfloor heating is a good first step to reducing a household’s carbon footprint, and while the country is still deciding on the most cost-effective way to update millions of homes, it is reassuring to know that products like Wundatherm will work with both current and future resources.

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