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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Floor Heating

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Floor Heating
4 min. read

Image: REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock.com

There’s nothing like a good hot shower in winter to warm the bones, but you could do without the shock of your feet hitting the hard, cold tiles. So what can you do?

If you’ve ever spent the night in a nice hotel, you’ve probably experienced the warmth and comfort of underfloor heating. And if you dream of installing floor heating in your home, but aren’t quite sure if it’s worth it, read on. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons of underfloor heating, so you can make a more informed choice.

The advantages of floor heating

Warm and soothing, there’s a lot to love about floor heating beyond how nice it feels when you come out of the shower or get out of the bed first thing in the morning.

More energy-efficient

Anything that reduces your carbon footprint is a major boon in this day and age, and underfloor heating ticks all the right boxes. Both electric and water systems can slash your heating bills by around 20-25% on average, though coupled with proper insulation, and in the right circumstances, this figure can be far higher. Traditional radiators heat water up to around 160°F, whereas the water in wet underfloor heating only needs to be heated to around 84°F.

Electric systems generally heat up quicker than wet ones, saving even more energy, and can normally be controlled via smart thermostats so that different areas can be heated to different temperatures at different times.

Cheaper to run

Better energy efficiency translates to lower energy bills, saving you money each month. With electric systems, you might find your electricity bills are slightly higher, but your heating bills will be vastly reduced.

Low maintenance

Underfloor heating is extremely low maintenance, and once fitted, you generally don’t need to worry about it. Most floor heating systems in the U.S. come with at least a 25-year warranty.

More comfortable

Floor heating heats your home evenly, removing the cold spots that are common with radiators. The heat is transferred to your body directly, so even if the air temperature is lower, you’ll still feel warmer than with traditional systems. Since heat rises, the surrounding air will also be a consistently comfortable temperature.

Better air quality

Traditional heating systems rely on air circulation to warm your home. This movement of air disrupts dust and allergens, which can be a real problem for those with asthma or allergies. With underfloor heating, allergens are no longer a problem, as the heat radiates naturally upwards. Moreover, humidity and mold are less likely to appear.

Easy to fit

Modern electric floor heating systems are extremely easy to install, and confident DIY-ers shouldn’t have a problem fitting them. Wet systems are more difficult, however, and typically require professional installation.

More space

With floor heating, there’s no need for radiators anymore, so you’ll find that you have much more space in your rooms. It’s surprising how much space even the most modern radiators take up. Without them, you can fit furniture against any wall, rather than placing things around the radiators. Also, by removing radiators, you remove the risk of your kids injuring themselves on them.

The disadvantages of floor heating

There are no perfect systems, and floor heating does have some disadvantages to be aware of.

Expensive to install

While running costs are generally much lower than traditional systems, the installation of underfloor heating can be expensive. Electric systems typically cost around $10-$20 per square foot, and if the price of electricity is high in your area, the running costs might be too much. Wet systems need to be installed by professionals, which can cost hundreds of dollars, plus the cost of the system.

Floors need to be replaced

If you want to retrofit underfloor heating, you’ll need to entirely replace the previous flooring. For this reason, such systems are normally built into new builds or fitted during large scale renovations. Just installing underfloor heating means a lot of mess and time spent waiting. The installation will also raise the height of your flooring by around an inch or so, though with wet systems it can be more.

Can’t always operate as the main heating source

While it is possible to use floor heating as your main heating source, this isn’t possible in all homes. Any heating system is only as good as the insulation in the home, and if yours isn’t up to scratch, it may not be enough to keep you warm through winter. It’s difficult to retrofit floor heating as the main heating source, as the home should be designed with this in mind.

Doesn’t work well with all floor finishes

Underfloor heating works best with solid floor finishes, such as tile, marble, or hardwood. There are systems designed to work with laminate flooring and carpet, though these are not always as efficient.

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