At Home

Is underfloor heating as effective as radiators?

Lucy Cromwell
|
2nd July 2021
Lucy Cromwell 550

Radiators may have been a mainstay in properties for decades, but many are now switching to underfloor heating as an alternative. Underfloor heating is invisible to the eye, opens up rooms and provides more wall space for furniture and storage.

For contemporary homes or those seeking a modern upgrade, it’s a great solution to heating needs that is sleeker than traditional wall radiators.

What’s more, radiators can be inefficient at heating larger rooms, creating cold spots which require you to turn up the room temperature to accommodate. This can waste energy over time and studies suggest that overheating your home by even 1% could increase your heating costs by as much as 8%. But is underfloor heating really a good alternative to the classic radiator and should you replace your wall heaters with an underfloor system?

Radiators and underfloor heating are quite different

While both radiators and underfloor heating are great heating options, there are some key differences that are causing people to make a switch. Radiators provide convection heat while underfloor solutions deliver radiant heat – this means that radiators heat the air around them, with hot air rising and falling to the ground when it’s cooled, beginning the cycle again.

This inevitably causes hot and cold spots in the room. Underfloor heating, however, creates an even heat supply that maintains the natural humidity of the room, so it doesn’t become stuffy and uncomfortable. Underfloor heating can also be beneficial for those with allergies, as they don’t circulate dust particles and allergens in the same way as radiators can be prone to doing.

How underfloor heating works

Underfloor heating operates through a series of pipes beneath your flooring. It distributes a lower temperature of warm water which is controlled by a thermostat, so the temperature stays consistent throughout the property, or in one specific room.

This system can work with any heat source, such as a standard boiler, combination boilers or heat pumps and stoves. There are also electric underfloor systems that work through ultra-thin heating wires which are installed under the floor and heat up when the system is on to warm the floor surface.

Radiators can become inefficient over time

There’s no denying that radiators are highly efficient – after all, we’ve been relying on them for decades to heat our homes and business properties. But radiators can cause a problem when they stop working correctly and this can often be a result of compressed air in the system or a build-up of sludge in the pipes.

The good news is that these problems are often easy to fix, either by yourself or by a trained professional, to get them up and running once again. More often than not, a radiator’s inefficiency is due to air pockets which will require you to bleed your radiators regularly to ensure the water flows through properly.

A combination works best

Underfloor heating is incredibly efficient at heating your home and it’s effortless to run. One of the main benefits of underfloor heating is that it frees up your walls and offers more flexibility in terms of your room layout and where you place furniture.

But there are benefits to having radiators in your home – for example, underfloor heating can be expensive and time-consuming to install so you may want to reserve it for certain rooms in your home and utilise radiators for other areas of the property. A combination of these two heating methods works best to ensure you strike a balance between affordability, convenience and functionality.

Final thoughts

It’s entirely possible to use underfloor heating as a replacement for your radiators and depending on how much heat loss you’re experiencing with radiators, you could get rid of them completely. If you’re considering using an underfloor heating system as your only source of heat, it’s well worth carrying out a heat loss calculation beforehand to see whether the heating output matches the requirements of the room.

It’s also worth considering the cost of replacing your existing radiators and whether it’s more cost-effective to upgrade what you have or installing a new heating system. Over time, underfloor heating can provide cost-saving benefits, so these savings may outweigh the initial investment for some people.

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