Is Underfloor Heating an Unaffordable Luxury?

Are you looking to update your current heating system and thinking of underfloor heating? If you're looking for further information such as, is underfloor heating affordable for you, keep reading to find out exactly what underfloor heating is and its costs.

What is underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating is a clever way of heating your home without standard radiators. As its name states this type of heating system is installed underneath the floor, either through an electric or wet underfloor heating system.

Keep reading to find out about electric underfloor heating and wet or water underfloor heating.

Underfloor heating types - electric or water?


There are two basic types of underfloor heating and the first decision has to be about which one to opt for – a water-filled system or electric underfloor heating mats.

Water filled systems

A water-filled system would be connected to your central heating combi boiler and can be timed to come on and switch off as you please, like a normal radiator.

This option is the more expensive of the two to install initially though, especially if you are retrofitting it in an existing space, rather than installing it in a new build or extension.

The higher cost is because pipes are thicker than electrical wiring and you may need your floor raised to accommodate the new heating system. You will also need to take into account the cost of the plumber to install it.

Electric underfloor heating mats

Electric underfloor heating mats can be supplied in many different sizes and are more cost-effective when installed than water underfloor heating. However, there are two sides to every coin and whilst this option might be cheaper to install it can be more expensive to run. You will also need to remember you'll require a qualified electrician to install it.

Both heating systems can be brilliant options though, and the choice will come down to you, your needs, and preferences. However, for guidance, it is suggested that for smaller bathrooms, where you are retrofitting the heating, electric heating mats might be the best option. For larger bathrooms or in a new build, a water-filled system may be preferable.

One thing to remember is that you don’t need to 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 expenses by not putting pipe or mats under those areas.

Working out the cost - materials and installation

As we have discussed; you have to account for the initial cost of the materials and for installation with a tradesperson too, then you will then have ongoing running costs to consider. It might appear relatively simple to go online, check out the different products you will need, 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 tradesperson). 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.

How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

You have installed your heating, now how much will it cost to run? There are many variables to take into account, including the size of your bathroom, how many hours a day you intend to use the heating, 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 this rough figure 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, and your insulation. It is generally accepted though, that water-based systems are more efficient and will save you money in larger areas.

Reducing the costs further

If possible, the best time to install underfloor heating is when you are having other work to your bathroom done at the same time, so you won’t be paying twice for tiles or plaster etc.

If you are going for an electrical system, consider installing it yourself (for those who are feeling confident or DIY-savvy) and then have 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.

All in all, underfloor heating doesn’t have to be a distant, warming dream, it could be a reality with some planning, research, and a talented installer.

Consider your flooring


While compatible with most types of flooring such as tiles, laminate, vinyl, and carpets, there are some exceptions, and this can depend on the type of underfloor heating you choose and the location in your home.

If you choose flooring that isn't compatible with underfloor heating you may find your heating doesn't work efficiently and can even damage the flooring. Therefore, it's essential to make sure any flooring you choose is compatible with underfloor heating before purchase.

Underfloor heating vs radiators


If you're still on the fence about underfloor heating keep reading to find out the differences between underfloor heating and radiators and which option is best for your needs.

If your current radiators require an update, you may be wondering whether to stick with radiators or move to an underfloor heating system. While radiators can be unreliable at heating a room evenly and efficiently, leaving your home with potential cold spots, they are cheaper and, in most cases, quicker to install when simply replacing like for like.

However, while underfloor heating might be more time-consuming and costly to install initially when fitted correctly, it can be a huge money saver over time. Underfloor heating can heat a room evenly and efficiently without leaving any cold spots.

Radiators can be unsightly to look at and even take up valuable wall space, while underfloor heating can be installed completely hidden away, without using any wall space.

Can you use radiators and underfloor heating together?

If you're adding an extension to your home or simply renovating your kitchen and living room for example, you may be wondering if you can install underfloor heating in these areas while keeping radiators in the rest of your house. Keep reading to find out if this is possible.

In most cases, installing underfloor heating alongside existing radiators should be no issue, as some underfloor heating systems can even work off your current heating system. However, before installing underfloor heating it's essential to ensure the space is sufficiently insulated for the new underfloor heating system to work efficiently.

In conclusion, the choice between underfloor heating and radiators comes down to a few main factors, cost and installation time being the main issues. If you have any concerns about either option, we suggest contacting a qualified heating professional to discuss the specific heating needs of your home.

If you're looking for more information on underfloor heating, take a look at the following posts - Underfloor Heating Tips & Checks - Underfloor Heating Complete Guide - Choosing the Best Radiator for Your Home.

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