As the summer slowly approaches its end, many homeowners are taking the opportunity to get their homes ready for the winter. Although on the whole British winters are becoming milder, last winter was notorious for the number of citizens (mostly pensioners) who died as a consequence of the extreme temperatures, the 50 per cent increase in fuel prices, and the government’s recently implemented austerity measures.
Given the increasing costs of gas and electricity, homeowners are turning to more economical and fuel-efficient heating solutions. Due to this reason, underfloor heating is becoming more popular among householders and business owners alike.
A brief history
Contrary to popular belief, underfloor heating is by no means a recent invention. In fact, its invention can be traced back to the prehistoric era. Communities who had to live in extreme winter weather conditions, like the inhabitants of modern day Alaska and Northern Asia, used to run smoke through underfloor cavities. The smoke heated the floors and then extended into other parts of the house.
This idea was further developed by the Romans, who based their heating system on hypocausts (which literally translate as heat from below). Instead of smoke, the Romans used hot air and steam to heat the walls and floors.
The benefits at home
Modern systems have many advantages over other forms of heating. To start with, underfloor heating is more economical than traditional heating systems. In fact, heating your home can be between 15 and 40 per cent cheaper than using radiator-based systems. Installation costs on newly-built homes are also lower.
In the second place, the heating provided by underfloor systems reaches virtually every corner of a room, as opposed to what happens with radiators, which tend to concentrate the heat around them while other areas of the room remain cold.
Underfloor heating also eliminates all the hassles associated with radiators, including maintenance, excessive moisture levels, and wasted space.
There are two types of underfloor heating systems: water-based and electricity-based. Both types can be easily installed in both newly-built homes and older properties, as the majority of boilers can be used as part of the installation. However, and since not all homes have the same heating requirements, it is important to choose the right combination of underlay, underfloor type, and installation system. It is also wise to consider whether a carpet would be required or not. As a general rule of thumb, carpeted rooms with underfloor heating take longer to heat up, although they also stay warm for longer.
Lastly, keep in mind that while electric-based underfloor heating is cheaper to install, it also tends to be more expensive to run.
As underfloor heating systems become more popular, suppliers and installers are making available DIY home kits, which typically include cables, mats, accessories, and a quick and easy to follow installation guide. This approach might be a good option for skilled DIY aficionados, and it may reduce even further the installation costs. In any case, underfloor heating remains a good investment for virtually every property type.