Most homes in the United States have some kind of heating system installed. Conventional heating systems have been known to not only consume a relatively large amount of energy but also to not always cover the entire width of the room. Underfloor heating solves this concern by offering an unobtrusive and energy-efficient system of heating a home.
In case you aren’t sure if underfloor heating is right for you. I’ve described the different reasons why underfloor heating is more efficient and why it would be great for your home.
Underfloor heating is energy efficient. Heat isn’t lost to the floor; the warm floor forms an extension of the heating unit. Hot air naturally rises, and heat evenly radiates up from the floor to the occupied space. Energy efficiency equates to cost efficiency, and underfloor units save space.
Underfloor Heating is Energy-Efficient
Underfloor heating is the process of warming a room from the ground up through electric- or water-based systems embedded into the floor. It’s usually placed beneath the finished floor and transmits heated air through the room from below.
This form of heating is sometimes referred to as radiant heating, and it utilizes a lower operating temperature than traditional heating systems. This is why it is recognized by professionals as an energy-efficient means of heating a room or even the entire house, including the basement (finished).
Even Distribution of Heat
Unlike regular heating systems, which are located at one point in the room, underfloor heating is installed underneath the entire floor of a room. So, while traditional heating systems would have to spread warmth to other parts of the room from the location at which the system is situated, underfloor heating already covers the circumference of the room.
In most cases, conventional heating systems would require you to increase the heat level in order for the warmth to reach the far corners of the rooms, and in some cases, the system might have to be supplemented by another radiator system that covers hard-to-reach areas.
By contrast, while installing an underfloor system, the pipe or cables are evenly distributed around the room so you would only have to increase or reduce the thermostat level whenever you require a change in the room’s general temperature. This is because the system produces the same heat level throughout the room and sufficiently provides a consistent temperature.
As an added bonus, the fact that you don’t have to have very high temperatures to heat up a room means that you can have flooring like vinyl, which is sensitive to high temperatures, and still have underfloor heating.
You can also increase the effectiveness of heat distribution with the addition of a ceiling fan set to winter/warming mode.
Reaches Comfortable Room Temperature Faster
Underfloor heating covers the length of the room, so you can get the room to your desired temperature a lot faster and the room would retain the heat for a longer period.
Factors that affect the heating speed include:
- The quality and effectiveness of your insulation system. Thicker insulation makes for a shorter heating time and vice versa.
- The quality of your underfloor heating system.
For optimal performance, it’s advised that you carry out an efficiency test to assess the effectiveness of the insulation system in your home.
As long as the room is controlled by the same underfloor heating system, the temperature change would occur at a uniform rate. This eliminates cold spots and makes the overall temperature in the room very comfortable.
According to Scientific American, The Residential Service Network (RESNET) reports that underfloor heating systems transmit heat 15% more effectively than regular radiators.
Hot Air Rises
As we all learned back in school, hot air is less dense than cold air. Thus, it rises while cold air sinks.
Since hot air rises, the heat produced by traditional heaters, which are not located at the lowest level of the room might flow to the ceiling before spreading to the other parts of the room, thereby bypassing the main area in which people sit, stand, sleep, and move around.
Furthermore, regular heating systems can lose heat to surrounding surfaces and the ceiling before it spreads to other parts of the room. This results in a comparatively longer running time to achieve a certain temperature.
Underfloor heating warms the room from the bottom up. The floor is warmed up first and then the heat convects to other sections of the room before finally reaching the ceiling. This process is efficient, taking heat where it is needed first, and generally requires less heat than traditional heaters to warm up a space to a comfortable temperature.
No Heat “Lost” to the Floor
RESNET records that conventional heating systems “draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts…” (quote from Scientific American). The heat that does reach the areas that are occupied is quickly absorbed by the cold floor.
This method of heating would obviously consume more energy to operate while you are trying to get heat to spread to every corner of the room.
Underfloor heating benefits from its position beneath the floor. The floor is heated first and therefore becomes an extension of the heating system itself, transferring warmth to the air and heating the room from the bottom up. So, the warmer air occupies the lower half of the room where it is most useful, and less energy is needed to maintain warmth in your home.
Also, because the floor in a room with an underfloor heating system is heated directly, it retains the temperature longer than those warmed by radiators, which cool off shortly after they are turned off, and the stored heat in the floor will slowly radiate upward into the room.
The absence of ducts in underfloor heating prevents the loss of heat that might arise due to unsealed cracks and openings in the duct. This adds to the efficiency of these heating systems.
In addition to the energy efficiency of the ductless design, there are health benefits of underfloor heating.
The ducts in conventional heating systems can be a resting place for dust. If they are not cleaned properly the dust might be blown into the room. Even if you clean the ducts regularly, it is almost impossible to rid the surfaces of every contaminant that might have rested above them.
Underfloor heating is great for people with severe allergies because it prevents irritating particles and allergens from flowing into and around your room.
If ducts are not properly maintained, they can house contaminants like mold and mildew, which would eventually be released into your living area. This can lead to a bunch of health-related issues that aren’t likely to occur in homes with underfloor heating.
Energy-Efficient Means Cost-Efficient
Though the initial cost of installing an underfloor heating system might be a lot more expensive than regular heating devices, it more than makes up for it in the long run with its minimal running cost. And it can be run with a variety of energy sources, like solar and gas, so energy costs will be reduced even more.
An underfloor heating system uses between 15-40% less energy than conventional radiators.
Underfloor heating is a sustainable way to add warmth to your space because it only requires minimal maintenance after it has been installed. Also, the pipes are designed from sturdy materials that stay strong for years.
Electric systems are cheaper to install, however, they consume more energy than water-based underfloor heating systems. But when compared to regular heating systems, it still saves a relatively high amount of energy.
You can also save more energy by running the heater at a low temperature or turning it off completely in vacant rooms or places where you don’t need heat.
Two factors that affect running cost are:
- Running time, which is how long the system is left on.
- The insulation in your room. This affects the necessary or habitual running time. A well-insulated room heats up faster than one that isn’t.
Underfloor Heating Is Space-Efficient
Underfloor heating isn’t installed around the living area but underneath it. So, apart from the thermostat and control, it’s practically out of sight. This is beneficial not only for small rooms, but it’s also a great solution for people who would rather not have their heating systems in plain view—not everyone is going for the industrial design look.
Thus, by installing an underfloor system, you get to save space that would have otherwise been occupied by a device that might not complement the decor of your home. This allows you to arrange and utilize your space in whatever way suits you best.
However, before going on to install underfloor heating in your home, you should first consult with a professional to know if it is ideal for your particular space.
You can also read my article on Is Bathroom Underfloor Heating Worth It? to get an unbiased opinion about underfloor heating systems in these rooms.