Is Underfloor Bathroom Heating an Unaffordable Luxury?

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It’s never pleasant to step out of  baths or shower enclosures onto a stone cold tiled floor. Rugs and mats can be used to warm things up a little bit, but nothing beats the luxury of underfloor bathroom heating which keeps tiles and other hard floors pleasantly warm. It’s something that hotels and top-end house builders have embraced, but is underfloor heating really something the average householder can afford to install in their own bathroom?

Electric or Water?

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There are two basic types of bathroom underfloor heating and the first decision has to be about which one to opt for. A water filled system is connected into your central heating combi boiler, and can be timed to come on and switch off just like any other radiator. It is, however, more expensive to fit initially, especially when you are retro-fitting it in an existing bathroom rather than putting it into a new build or new extension. This is mainly because pipes are thicker than electrical wiring, and you may need your floor raised to accommodate your new heating system.

Electric underfloor heating mats can be supplied in many different sizes and are cheaper to buy and install initially than a water based system. You will need a properly qualified electrician to install it in your bathroom, and it can be more expensive to run than water underfloor heating. It’s quite a complicated decision to work out what is best for you; if you have a small bathroom where you are retro-fitting underfloor heating then electric is probably the best choice, for a larger bathroom in a new build, water may be more appropriate

One thing to remember is that you don’t heat the floor that you won’t stand on, so if you have large quadrant shower enclosures or free-standing baths in the room then you will save a lot of expense by not putting pipe or mats under those areas.

Working out the costs

The next stumbling block for most people when thinking about underfloor heating is that there are two lots of costs to consider; the initial costs for installing the system, and the ongoing running costs. It might appear relatively simple to go online, check out the different products which you will need for underfloor heating and then calculate what it’s likely to cost based on the size of your bathroom. This is certainly a starting point, but it doesn’t take into account the differences between electric and “plumbed-in” underfloor heating, costs for pulling the floor up and then relaying it after the heating has been installed, and costs for plumbers or electricians to do the work in the first place.

Working out costs for underfloor heating is something you’re going to need professional help with, so ask around friends and relatives or check out some of the tradespeople review websites online to get in touch with local plumbing firms or electricians to ask for quotes (make sure you follow these tips so that you get a decent tradesman). As a very rough guide, you can expect to pay around £800 for electric underfloor heating in an average bathroom, and £1250 or more for a water system.

Running Costs

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Once you have your new underfloor heating installed, how much is it going to cost to run? Again there are many different variables which come into play, including the size of your bathroom, how many hours a day you are intending using it for, and how good your insulation is. Figures provided by one of the main manufacturers of electric underfloor heating state that this type of heating costs 0.6p per square metre per hour to run, so using these figures you should be able to calculate your monthly or annual costs. It is far harder to work out a price per square metre for water-based systems as it will depend on what type of boiler you have, whether you have your heating set on a timer, your insulation, and so many other factors. It is generally accepted though that water based systems are more efficient, and will save you money in larger areas.

Reducing the Costs Further

The best way to reduce the cost of installing underfloor heating is to schedule the work for a time when you are having other work done in the bathroom as you won’t be paying twice for new tiles or plastering. If you are going for an electrical system, consider installing it yourself and having the work signed off by an electrician rather than getting them in for the whole job. Finally, always make sure you take the opportunity to insulate your property as much as you can, and install thermostats and timers to have your underfloor heating running as efficiently as possible.