When relying upon underfloor heating (UFH) as opposed to radiators to warm your home, you are likely to notice a number of key differences, however it is important that the system is correctly set up to run efficiently.
The practical differences include reduced running costs, a long life span with little or no maintenance required (pipes are guaranteed for fifty years in some cases), and the ability to furnish a room as you would like to without having to work around unsightly wall-hung radiators. The underfloor heating will provide a more comfortable, ambient heat throughout your home and its various underfloor-heated rooms than would radiators, which produce ‘hot spots’ of warmth in the areas nearest the radiator and often towards the ceiling, where the warmth is wasted.
How to run Underfloor Heating Efficiently
The cost of installing an underfloor heating system can seem high, but the overall lower running costs more than make up for the up-front costs. Installing a wet (water) system is often more expensive than installing a dry (electric) system, but the running costs of a wet system are much lower than those of a dry system. Although using underfloor heating is in itself going to save you money, there is a variety of methods by which you are able to keep costs down even further whilst still enjoying the comforts of an underfloor-heated home.
The heat output of an underfloor heating system is usually set by individual controls for each room, rather than one thermostat to control the entire home, which is perfect for efficient, economic heating. Rooms are only heated when they are needed, and unused rooms (such as the living room at night, or bedrooms during the day) can be left to rest at a temperature neither too warm nor too cool.
Using a Setback Thermostat
Typically, underfloor heating (UFH) will take longer to heat a room from cold than an old-fashioned radiator. Therefore, it is worth considering using a setback thermostat (or setback stat) to keep the temperature at a minimum level of 4°C below the normal operating temperature of around 18°C – 21°C whenever a room is not in use. This reduces heat-up times, keeps rooms comfortable at all times, and prevents pipes from freezing and condensation or damp from building up. This can be especially helpful when the rooms are out of use for extended periods of time, such as during holidays away from home, or just during the nights and working days when nobody is around to benefit from a fully heated room and energy use and costs can be significantly reduced. Whereas other thermostats adjust according to the temperature of the entire house, a setback thermostat is aided by an electric clock which is able to adjust the heating according to the time of day, ensuring your home is comfortably warm in time for your arrival home from work, or for when you wake up in the morning. The use of a setback thermostat, maintain at room at a minimum temperature 24 hours a day rather than heating it from cold, is likely to save from 5% to 15% on top of the savings of using underfloor heating systems alone.
Ensuring your home is Efficiency-Friendly
Aside from the savings of using an energy efficient system, and the low cost that installing underfloor heating (UFH) can provide, it is important to ensure that your home is as energy efficient as it can be in order that you gain as much from your heating system as possible. Making sure that your home is sufficiently insulated and that windows are double-glazed will ensure that you are getting the most efficient use of your system.
Using a Heat Pump with Underfloor Heating
For maximised efficiency, a heating source such as a heat pump is ideal in conjunction with your underfloor heating (UFH) system. However, the energy efficiency of the building itself could impact upon the decision to use a heat pump. Most heat pumps are shown to provide cost and energy savings based upon their CoP (coefficient of performance) rating, but the CoP can alter depending upon the flow temperature of the water from the unit. Lower flow temperatures provide a better CoP (coefficient of performance). Therefore, to reach optimum efficiency the flow temperature must be as low as possible whilst meeting the building heat loss. Inefficient buildings require higher flow temperatures to counteract higher rates of heat loss, which will increase the running costs.