Pros and cons of underfloor heating

Looking to heat your home better? Find out the pros and cons of underfloor heating and if this is suitable for your home.

If you’re looking to heat your home more efficiently, then you may be considering getting underfloor heating installed.

Energy bills have been a big concern for all of us over the last couple of years. Energy prices have started to fall, with the energy price cap dropping, but energy bills remain incredibly high.

As a result, finding ways to save money on your energy, beyond finding a new tariff through an energy comparison, is a good idea.

While some may look to energy efficient alternatives to boilers such as heat pumps, others may be interested in knowing whether underfloor heating is better than radiators.

Or you may just want to know how much installing underfloor heating would cost. We’ve full info below.

What is underfloor heating?

There are two main forms of underfloor heating: electric and water. 

  • Electric underfloor heating is also referred to as dry underfloor heating. It involves installing a series of electric heating mats, sheets and wires beneath your flooring. You can then control the temperatures coming from these wires and mats through your thermostat.
  • Water underfloor heating involves introducing a network of pipes below your flooring, through which heated water runs. There is a direct connection to your central heating system with the water heated by your boiler or heat pump. This is then sent through the pipes.

How much does underfloor heating cost?

The cost of installing underfloor heating will vary depending on which option you go for.

Electric underfloor heating is generally cheaper to install in terms of upfront costs, since the installation itself is more straightforward.

The fact that ready-made mats can be put in place makes that installation easier. If you have smaller rooms then wiring may be required. 

The size of the area being covered by the new heating system will also impact the cost, as will the age of the property. If you’re having underfloor heating installed in a new build, it’s likely to cost less than in an older property.

According to Checkatrade, these are the figures you can expect to pay for the installation of underfloor heating:

Electric underfloor heating

New build install ‒ £50-£75 per

Renovation property ‒ £60-£85 per m²

Water underfloor heating

New build install ‒ £120-£135 per

Renovation property ‒ £135-£185 per m²

Can I install underfloor heating myself?

Installing underfloor heating yourself is not a great idea unless you know what you’re doing.

Given those installation costs, it can be tempting to convince yourself that you can save money by DIY instead of professional help. 

There are some downsides though. If you’re going for a water underfloor heating system, then getting it wrong could flood your home, leading to far more extensive costs.

You will need to get a professional to ensure that an electric system has been wired properly. If the mats haven’t been arranged correctly, your home might not heat up as expected. 

So while in theory, you can install underfloor heating yourself, it could end up costing you far more in the long run. It’s advisable to get it done properly in the first place.

Will underfloor heating increase my energy bills?

Underfloor heating tends to cost more to run than traditional radiators but is more efficient.  This can help boost your overall savings. 

Let’s take the example of a 100-watt underfloor heat mat system. The experts at The Underfloor Heating Store reckon this will use around 75 watts per m², so if a room is 12m² you’re looking at around 900 watts per hour.

From 1 October the energy price cap has set the unit cost for electricity at an average of 27p per kilowatt hour. So if you have the heating on for three hours a day, that works out at around 73p per day for that room. For a single 800-watt radiator, it’s about 65p per day for three hours.

However, it’s worth pointing out that underfloor heating systems are generally considered to be more efficient. This means that they are able to heat your rooms without having to work too hard. You don’t need to have them on for too long or turn them up too high.

If your property is well insulated, the rooms will be able to retain this heat for longer. So while the actual cost of the system itself is higher, your energy bills turn out to be lower. 

Radiators versus underfloor heating

Underfloor heating has some important advantages over radiators.

Underfloor heating does a better job of heating the entire room rather than just the areas closest to the radiators. This is particularly noticeable in larger rooms where you might not feel warm even after the radiators have been on for long.

Radiators also have to work harder to heat rooms, typically having to get to higher temperatures compared with underfloor heating. 

There is also the question of space. With underfloor heating you can get rid of the radiators, freeing up extra space in your property.

That doesn’t mean underfloor heating is definitely the right option though. The installation costs are pretty high. Your bills could also be higher if you run the underfloor heating system for the same time period as a radiator.

The pros and cons of underfloor heating

The pros of underfloor heating are as follows:

  • More efficient, meaning you don’t need to have the heating on for as long.
  • Does a better job at heating entire rooms rather than just the areas around radiators.
  • Frees up space in rooms, since no need for radiators
  • Could potentially add value to your property.
  • No maintenance fee or regular servicing is needed.
  • Very user-friendly and is paired with a smart thermostat to control the room temperature.
  • Can be installed with various floor coverings.
  • Safe to use and is tucked away neatly from any contact.

The cons of underfloor heating are as follows:

  • Higher installation costs than radiators.
  • Takes a lot of time to install.
  • Can be difficult to install in older properties.
  • Can create hot spots on the floor.
Small model home next to coins, denoting council tax on a rental property

Will underfloor heating increase the value of my home?

The last few years have seen energy bills rise significantly, putting household finances under greater pressure. As a result, having a home with an energy-efficient heating system is a big selling point. Especially the potential for lower energy bills.

A recent study by the Mortgage Advice Bureau found that three-quarters of those looking to buy a house in the next two years find properties with an A or B rating on their energy performance certificate more desirable.

Given this increased focus on energy efficiency, it’s possible that having an underfloor heating system will boost interest in the property when you sell it, and with it the asking price.

However, there is no guarantee so this should not be a driving factor when determining whether to have an underfloor heating system installed in your home.

Ultimately it’s your decision to make, so you should consider all the pros and cons of underfloor heating before moving forward. 

Have a look at our energy-saving tips to save money on your energy bills. Get help with energy bills if you’re struggling to pay for gas and electricity.