Heating from the ground up


Craig Edwards of WMS, explains how to incorporate affordable warmth into the very fabric of a home with underfloor heating

Rising energy bills in the UK are set to push even more households into fuel poverty this winter. The stakes are high and creating energy efficient homes is no longer just a regulatory need, but one that can make it more affordable for people to stay warm and healthy at home.

A recent report from National Energy Action predicts that 6.7 million UK households could be in fuel poverty – an increase of 2.2 million from 2021 and set to rise. Those people will be unable to afford to heat their homes to the temperature needed to keep warm and healthy, which then has a knock-on effect on other vital services.

While there are many measures which can be implemented to increase efficiency of the UK’s existing housing stock and newly built dwellings, the heating system itself will always be a key component to ensure homeowner bills are kept as low as possible. Hydronic (water based) underfloor heating, by its very nature, is designed to use less energy, while delivering many additional benefits to residents and the environment alike.

Minimal maintenance

As well as offering energy saving benefits and affordable warmth for households, underfloor heating also minimises maintenance costs.

Typically, radiators require an annual check for air in the system/bleeding and sometimes more invasive inhibitor dosing is needed, plus they may need to be fully replaced every 10-15 years. In contrast, underfloor heating requires very little maintenance, with many systems offering a 75-year pipework warranty, making it possible for the system to outlive the life of the building itself. So underfloor heating truly demonstrates a solution to achieve affordable warmth for today and years to come.

Efficient and healthy by design

As underfloor heating covers a much greater surface area than radiators and will run at a lower temperature 24 hours a day, the system uses less energy while creating a comfortable environment. As there is less heat being used, it also makes underfloor heating up to 15-40% more efficient than an equivalent radiator system. Once in place, a well-designed system will be able to run at the coolest possible settings, which in turn reduces bills and environmental impact. Radiant heat also reduces the movement of dust and eliminates cold spots from a room where mould could develop, making it one of the healthiest ways to heat a building.

Ready for renewables

With the low water temperature update to the Building Regulations and Part L now in force, every newly built home must now prove a 31% reduction in CO2, compared to previous standards, and demonstrate a maximum flow temperature of 55°C. The Government expects heat pumps will become the primary heating technology for new homes, however for these renewable heat sources to work at their most efficient (COP) level, they need to run between 35-45°C. By design, underfloor heating can easily achieve the low temperatures required and, when the system is correctly designed the energy source doesn’t need to work as hard.

While heat pumps and underfloor heating are the perfect zero-carbon pairing, precision system design and installation is vital to ensure the system reaches the required efficiency – as such, it’s crucial to seek suppliers who are willing to work together and view the entire new build heating system design from a holistic point of view.

Keeping the system under control

Whether retrofitting or installing into a new build, controls are a must due to the behaviour of underfloor heating as it requires more careful management than a traditional radiator system to ensure consumers can heat specific rooms as required.

The ability to zone underfloor heating not only ticks a crucial regulatory box to meet the demands of the new Building Regulations and Part L update, but it also ensures no energy is wasted as each zone can be controlled individually from a central thermostat, or even via a smartphone app.

Craig Edwards is sales manager at WMS