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Underfloor heating                 

                                     December 2010  

Underfloor heating

Underfloor heatingI visited a wonderful stately home the other day and was impressed by the huge fireplaces at each end of the banqueting hall. They looked stunning but it did bring home to me the fact that once you moved away from these sources of heat, things could turn cold very quickly. I all too well remember standing with my back to the fire in our lounge as a child, it was so much warmer there than at the other end of the room.

Now, with radiators, rooms have a more equal heat and I thought that was brilliant – until I experienced underfloor heating! Last winter was my first time in a home with underfloor heating and I was surprised at the difference, the even heat everywhere, a gentle warmth with no real hot spots. I simply didn’ t notice the temperature and that is not always the case with radiators.

Underfloor heating works as the name implies by installing a range of heating elements under the floor.These can be based on warm water, or a “wet” system, or on electricity, or a “dry” system.

In wet systems, a long snake of pipes is buried in the screed underneath the floor. The pattern of the pipes can be up and down, or circular, depending on the style you choose. For dry systems, the theory is the same but you use electrically heated elements instead of pipes with hot water. Once these pipes or elements are heated up, the heat transfers up through the concrete slab into the room.

Some people think that having to heat up the concrete slab of the floor before the heat actually comes up into the room must be very inefficient and slow; but this isn’t really the case. While it does take longer for the slab to heat up, once warm it will take a long time to cool down. You also buy special underlay, carpets and tiles which have been specifically designed for underfloor heating so maximum heat comes up into the room. Underfloor heating isn’t designed for quick instant heat; but for a main home in winter it works brilliantly. The concrete slab takes considerable time to cool down, and there are controls which can keep it at a minimum temperature, so when you want to really heat the room up again, it takes less time.

With underfloor heating, there are no hot spots, the heat coming up is evenly spread which warms a room more evenly. Because of the large area of heat, the underfloor systems do not have to be run at the high temperatures that are essential with radiators. The temperature of water in a typical underfloor heating system pipe can be around 45 – 65oC whereas radiators are often around 80oC. Because of this, underfloor heating often works out cheaper, some of the manufacturers claim it can result in up to a 30-40% energy reduction over traditional heating methods.

The biggest question we had when we installed our underfloor wet heating system was – what happens if it leaks! In fact, leaks are really unlikely. Most domestic installations have a continuous line of pipes in one long loop with no joins. This is then “concreted” into the ground, offering a double resistance to any change in status. Underfloor heating is now a very well established form of heating, and leaks haven’t featured as a problem at all.

One excellent aspect of underfloor heating is the extra space you suddenly find in a house – no more radiators taking up massive wall spaces. There is no noise or “bubbling” with underfloor heating either.

The main set back of course is that you are not going to dig up your lounge floor to install underfloor heating! However, if you are buying new or undertaking a major refurbishment, then it could well be worth considering. Underfloor heating doesn’t have to be the entire house; many people often combine it with radiators; maybe using underfloor heating for the ground floor and traditional radiators upstairs. Extensions such as a conservatory can be good areas for underfloor heating.

There are numerous companies around these days fitting underfloor heating, so if you are interested in the idea for your home, it is worthwhile doing a bit of investigating and maybe asking friends and colleagues as well. But from my own personal point of view, I am absolutely delighted and definitely think underfloor heating is the way forward.



 

Nutricentre Discount for laterlife visitors If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health and nutrition related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.

 

 



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