We’re really sorry, but we can’t compare energy deals at the moment. We know the cost of living is expensive right now, so as soon as savings become available again we’ll be able to compare energy quotes for you. Until then, you could still save on your other household bills when you compare quotes with us.

Underfloor heating guide

You might think that underfloor heating is more of a luxury than a necessity. But it’s an incredibly efficient way of heating your home. So, how much does underfloor heating cost? Is it worth it? And is it right for your home?

Find out everything you need to know in our underfloor heating guide.

You might think that underfloor heating is more of a luxury than a necessity. But it’s an incredibly efficient way of heating your home. So, how much does underfloor heating cost? Is it worth it? And is it right for your home?

Find out everything you need to know in our underfloor heating guide.

Sofia Hutson
Utilities expert
8
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 10 JUNE 2022

What is underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating (UFH) heats your home from the ground up, basically turning your whole floor into a giant radiator.

It delivers heat either through a series of water pipes or by electric cables installed under the floor.

Nothing beats the luxury of a lovely warm floor in the cold winter months, especially first thing in the morning. Plus, it’s also a cost-effective, energy-efficient way of heating your home.

What are the different types of underfloor heating?


There are two types of UFH:

  • Hot water (wet systems)
  • Electric (dry systems)

Warm water – wet systems

Wet UFH systems use warm water to heat your home, in the same way that radiators do. A series of pipes are installed under the floor, embedded in a type of cement-sand mixture called screed, which is used to even out the surface. Screed is ideal for UFH because it’s really good at absorbing and radiating the heat from the pipes. The pipes circulate warm water across your floor space, heating the room from the ground up.

Wet systems can be connected to any type of boiler. They also work well with renewable energy technologies and can be connected to a solar water-heating system or heat pumps. The system is fitted with a thermostat so you can control the temperature, just like a traditional central heating system.

A wet system is typically more expensive to install than a dry system. It’s a big job and can be complicated. However, it’s also the most cost-effective type of UFH and is much cheaper to run than dry systems.

A wet system is a good choice for a new-build or if you’re planning to install UFH throughout the house.

Electric – dry systems

Dry system UFH consists of a series of electrical wires or heating mats, installed under your flooring on top of a layer of floor insulation.

The wires are then connected to a thermostat and your mains electricity supply.

Dry system UFH can be laid anywhere you have an electrical power supply.

  • Loose wired cables are flexible and can be laid however you want them. They’re a good choice for oddly shaped rooms with awkward corners.
  • Mats are good for large areas and regular-shaped rooms.

Dry systems are much cheaper and less disruptive to install than wet systems. They also heat up more quickly. But the running costs could be higher, so they’re better suited to smaller single rooms such as a bathroom or en-suite.

Top tip

If you’re planning to install UFH in a conservatory, choose a warm water wet system. Conservatories typically need a lot more energy to heat. A wet system may be more expensive to install but it could cost you far less in running costs than an electrical UFH system.

What’s the best type of flooring for underfloor heating?

Natural stone and ceramic tiles

These are considered the best types of flooring for UFH. Like the screed used to embed your wet system pipes, stone flooring absorbs and radiates heat well. Stone might take longer to heat up, depending on its thickness, but it also remains warmer for longer when the heating goes off. As we all know, cold stone and tiles can be really chilly to walk on, so you’ll quickly feel the benefits of a warmer floor.

Vinyl and laminate flooring

Not all vinyl and laminates can be used with UFH, so check before you commit. Some flooring companies have their own UFH systems. You could also get foil mat electric systems specifically designed for laminate flooring.

Wooden floors

Solid wooden floors aren’t generally recommended for UFH. As a natural material they can shrink and warp in reaction to temperature changes.

If you’re dead set on wooden floors and UFH, then engineered timber boards are a more suitable choice. They’re made up of layers of wood and are less likely to be affected by the heat of UFH.

Carpets

Although not the best choice, some carpets can be used with UFH as long as they have a tog value of less than 2.5. The tog value measures how much thermal insulation they provide. With carpets, it takes a while for the heat to come through, so they’re not the most efficient option.

Can underfloor heating be used to heat an entire house?

If your house is well-insulated then yes, warm water underfloor heating could be used as your main heating source. You’ll need get a heat-loss calculation done by a heating engineer to work out how much heating is needed and if UFH would be suitable for your whole house.

What are the benefits of underfloor heating?

There are many benefits to UFH compared to traditional radiators:

Cheaper running costs

If used with a condenser boiler, wet systems are around 25% more energy efficient than radiators. The water in the pipes typically runs at a lower temperature. Your boiler won’t need to work as hard and it could help save money on your heating bills.

Even heating over large areas

UFH is great for heating large areas. It distributes an even heat around the room and could help eliminate cold spots and draughts.

Eco-friendlier

UFH systems work well with renewable energy sources. Warm water UFH is around 40% more efficient than radiators if used with ground-source or air-source heat pumps.

More space

As there’s no need for bulky radiators, you’ll have more wall and floor space, giving you the flexibility to design your home the way you want.

Safer

Radiators can get really hot. With UFH there are no hot surfaces or sharp corners to worry about if you have kids running around the house.

Healthier

UFH radiates warmth, which means there’s less air movement and dust particles floating around, making it a healthier choice for allergy sufferers. It’s also more hygienic than radiators, which gather dust and can be difficult to clean.

Comfortable

Who wouldn’t love a warm floor underfoot in the middle of winter? UFH radiates a gentle and natural heat giving your home a wonderfully warm and luxurious feel.

A bonus if you’re selling

If you’re selling your home, UFH can be a definite plus-point as it appeals to many buyers.

What are the downsides to underfloor heating?

  • Installation can be expensive and messy
  • UFH could take longer to heat up than radiators
  • If your house isn’t well-insulated it might not be enough to keep it comfortably warm.

How much does it cost to install underfloor heating?

As you’ve probably guessed with the work involved, warm water UFH is typically more expensive than an electric system.

Price can also depend on the size of your rooms, the age of your property and whether it’s a new-build, renovation or retrofit. Retrofit means the underfloor heating is installed directly on top of your existing floor, then a new floor is put on top of that.

Time to complete is also a factor – while an electric system could take between one and three days to install, a water system could take one to two weeks. The longer it takes, the more you’re likely to pay in labour charges.

You’ll also need to consider the cost of materials per square metre, insulation, thermostat and, of course, labour costs.

Costs could range anywhere from £800 for a single room to around £8,000 for a three-bed house.

Can I install electric underfloor heating myself?

If you’re a competent DIYer, you may want to install electric underfloor mats or cables yourself. But, to comply with building regulations, a qualified electrician must fit the thermostat and do the wiring.

Can I have underfloor heating and radiators?

Yes. You can run UFH alongside your existing central heating system, especially if you’ve only installed it in a couple of rooms.

Most UFH systems have programmable thermostats, so you can control the heat settings in different areas of your house or even ‘zone’ different parts of a room if it’s open-plan.

Some systems also have smart thermostats so you can control your UFH from outside the home.

Wet vs Dry – which one is right for my home?

If you’re building from scratch, doing a major renovation or adding an extension, warm water UFH could be well worth the initial expense.

If you’re adding UFH to an existing floor, an electrical system might be easier to install. The cables are flatter than a wet system so there’s no need to adjust the height of your floor. It’s also easier to install electric dry systems upstairs.

Underfloor heating is a great way of heating your home efficiently. Used correctly, it could help you save on your heating bills.