Your complete guide to electric underfloor heating

Is electric underfloor heating the right choice for your home?

Electric underfloor heating is an alternative way to warm the rooms in your home. Most conventional heating systems, like radiators, attach to the walls. As hot air rises, this can result in the lower parts of your home feeling cold and uncomfortable.

Basically... Electric underfloor heating warms your home from the ground up. This type of heating system can make your rooms feel more comfortable and allow you to heat all parts of your property.

However, electric underfloor heating systems can be less efficient than water-based heating options. This means it’s important to examine the pros and cons of electric underfloor heating before you install the system.

Here, we take a closer look at how electric underfloor heating works, how much it costs and if it’s the right choice for your home.

Heat your floors with underfloor heating

How does electric underfloor heating work?

Electric underfloor heating is a little like an electric blanket for your floor. A mat or network of wires is placed under the floor. When the system is on, an electric current runs through the mat or wire network, instantly heating them up. These then heat up the tile, stone, laminate or carpet above and provide you with a warm surface to walk on.

When the system is turned off, the wires begin to cool. As electric underfloor heating systems warm up the entire surface of the floor, residual heat can last for hours. This provides an affordable and efficient way to heat your home.
In general, loose wires are used in small or awkwardly shaped rooms while mats are used in larger spaces. Electric underfloor heating systems provide even, consistent heat. This allows homeowners to accurately control the warmth of a room and optimise the temperature in the space.

Both mats and wires need to be connected to mains electricity. This means you’ll need to ensure there’s a plug or connection point nearby.

Most electric underfloor heating systems use a timer or programmer to optimise usability. This allows you to set the system to come on when you need to heat the space.

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What are the pros and cons of an electric underfloor heating system?

Electric underfloor heating systems are just one of a number of heating options homeowners have. Understanding the benefits of the system will help you decide if this is the option that’s right for you.

Pros

  • Affordability
    Electric underfloor heating is an affordable option for homeowners who want to warm specific parts of their property. Electric underfloor heating kits can be bought online and in specialist shops. The systems can be installed without the help of professional trades people and, once in place, these systems have low maintenance costs.
  • Easy installation
    Unlike radiators and water-based underfloor systems, electric underfloor heating is very easy to install. In most cases, all you need to do is unroll the mat or lay the wires out on your concrete or wood floor. Once the system is in place, you can install your tiles, laminate or stone flooring on top.
    The installation process is so straightforward, most people can fit the system themselves. This can help to minimise the cost of installing electric underfloor heating in your home.
  • Comfortable living space
    An electric underfloor heating system can help you create a comfortable living space. Underfloor heating creates even, consistent warmth. This is ideal for homeowners who want to carefully control the temperature in certain spaces.
  • Maintenance free
    Once in place, electric underfloor heating systems are virtually maintenance free. As the system is buried beneath the final layer of flooring, it’s protected from potential hazards and shouldn’t be damaged by heavy footfall or regular use.

Cons

  • Slow to warm up
    As electric underfloor heating systems can be slow to warm up. Homeowners will need to set the system to come on around 30 minutes before they want to use a room. This can be inconvenient in cold weather and when you’re in a hurry.
  • Furnishings
    When using underfloor heating systems of any type, you need to be aware of how you furnish your room. Large, heavy pieces of furniture can block the heat and make the system less efficient. This is one reason electric underfloor heating is more suitable for bathrooms and kitchens than other living spaces.

Electric Underfloor Heating

Electric underfloor heating costs

There are a number of factors that will impact the running costs of your electric underfloor heating. These include:

  • Room size.
  • The type of flooring installed beneath the underfloor heating.
  • The type of flooring above the heating system.
  • The insulation of the room.
  • The furniture you have in the space.

Electric underfloor heating installed in a 14 square metre, well insulated space with appropriate flooring and furnishings will cost around £6 per week to run. This is slightly more than a standard radiator which should cost just under £5 to heat the same space.

Installing electric underfloor heating in a small, well-insulated space will help the system to work as efficiently as possible. Read more about optimising your underfloor heating system.

Underfloor heating systems compared

There are two main types of underfloor heating available, electric, or dry, systems and water-based heating. Here we compare the two to help you select the heating that’s right for you.

Type of heating Electric Water-based
How it works Use a network of loose wires or an electric mat to heat the floor. Heat the floor using hot water fed through a network of pipes.
Connectivity Connected to mains electricity. Connected to your boiler. This means they are part of your central heating network.
Cost On average, you can expect to pay around £50 per square metre. Cost around £40 per square metre (not including installation costs).
Installation Installation Can be installed by the homeowner.Must be installed by a professional. The cost of installation will depend on the size of the room and the type of system selected.

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Electric underfloor heating FAQs

🌱 Is electric underfloor heating energy efficient?

Underfloor systems can be more efficient than other forms of heating. A good quality electric underfloor heating system should cost around 10p per square metre for six hours use. Insulating your home, and keeping windows and doors closed, will help to improve the efficiency of your heating system.

🏠 What types of flooring can be used with electric underfloor heating?

The best types of flooring to use with an electric underfloor heating system are tile and stone. Both tile and stone have high thermal conductivity. This means they’ll transfer heat efficiently from the wires or mat to the surface.

Other types of flooring like polished concrete, wood and carpet can also be used with underfloor heating. You may need to adapt the flooring in order to make it suitable for use with your chosen system.

🛠️ Where can you install electric underfloor heating?

Electric underfloor heating can be installed anywhere that has a mains power supply. However, this type of flooring is less energy efficient than water-based underfloor heating or central heating. As a result, it’s mostly used in small, contained spaces like bathrooms and kitchens.

🤷‍♂️ Can electric underfloor heating be retrofitted?

It is possible to retrofit electric underfloor heating. However, this may involve taking up the floor and relaying it over the heating system. In most cases, it’s easier to install the underfloor heating before laying the finished floor.

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Written by eleanor

Updated on 23 Sep, 2020