Are you thinking about installing underfloor heating?
If so, keep reading as this page is for you, we’ve got an underfloor heating cost guide that we updated in 2019.
On this page you’ll discover:
- the difference between a wet and dry system and which is best for you
- how energy efficient underfloor heating really is
- what others are saying about underfloor heating
- a realistic fully installation price – per square metre
- a look at how much the product costs, excluding the installation fee
- pros and cons of this type of heating
- does the type of carpet/flooring affect the performance of the heating system?
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What is a Dry System?
A dry system is powered by electricity and consists of heated mats that are laid under the flooring. This is the cheapest system to purchase and the easiest to install. Some homeowners even fit these products DIY.
It does have one major issue – running costs.
Almost all types of electric heating are expensive to run in the long term and underfloor heating mats are no different.
This type of heating is up to three times more expensive to run than a wet system.
What is a Wet System?
A wet system consists of underfloor pipes that are connected to a boiler.
This system is costly and disruptive to install, you will need to remove doors and skirting boards. It’s one redeeming feature is the low running costs – much less than wall mounted radiators and considerably less than electric heating systems.
Which System is Best For You?
That depends on your budget and circumstances, but as a general guide:
Dry systems are best for smaller areas such as bathroom-only installations.
Wet systems are more desirable for larger areas such as in all rooms on the ground floor or even the upper floors.
Wall-mounted radiators are bulky, unsightly and perhaps more importantly – inefficient.
They are typically installed below cold windows and much of the heat is lost. What heat is retained is not distributed evenly and one part of the room can be chilly while another is warm.
Wet underfloor heating systems distribute the heat more evenly throughout the room and generally cost been 15% and 25% less to run than a traditional wall mounted radiator system.
Dry systems are costly and are the least energy-efficient system. Expect to pay up to three times the cost of running a wall-mounted radiator system.
If you’re thinking about using solar panels to heat an electric underfloor system, then remember that these panels generate power in the daytime and not during dark winter evenings when you’re most likely to switch the heating on.
What Do Others Say About Underfloor Heating?
As with any type of home improvement project, it’s always a good idea to scour the web and find forums and websites where others are discussing the pros and cons of the products.
In November 2016, ShortLass from Mumsnet forum wrote:
Everyone I’ve spoken to who has had electric underfloor heating doesn’t use it because it’s too expensive to run.
The consumer organisation Which? wrote:
Underfloor heating can take longer to heat up than radiators, which work quickly to high temperatures. In some cases, such as with smaller systems, they won’t be able to totally supplement radiators.
The blog at Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies claims that:
…it is only really beneficial if the insulation of your property is the best that you can get it. In many ways, the better insulated your home, the less money you will spend on heating it, regardless of which method you use.
Does the Floor Need to be Dug up?
Traditional underfloor heating systems are best suited to newly built homes where appropriate planning can incorporate the additional 50-70mm of depth required.
New modern systems found on the market today are much thinner and are designed specifically for retrofitting into existing homes without reducing the available headroom to a significant degree.
Some slimline products only can add as little as 15mm depth (excluding insulation), so existing concrete floors don’t always need to be dug up.
There are several products such as Nu-heat 10 and Nu-heat Max which are laid directly on top of the concrete.
Nu-heat 10 will raise the floor height by 15mm but it isn’t the most powerful system and should only be used on modern houses or homes where the insulation has recently been upgraded. If this system is used on an older property with poor insulation then it might not be enough to keep the house warm.
Nu-heat Max is also laid on top of the existing floor but has a higher capacity so raises the height by 22mm. This system is suitable for all types of property, both well insulated and poorly insulated homes. It also warms up quicker than the 15mm version.
Both systems can be used on an upper floor as well.
We are not affiliated with this company in any way and there are other manufacturers on the market but we feel this video is worth watching:
Pros and Cons of This Type of Heating
Wet underfloor heating is a great choice and once installed has many benefits:
- reduced heating bills, underfloor systems use between 15 and 25% less energy than wall mounted radiators
- frees up space where the wall radiators once were
- warm feet – no more cold floors
- consistent warmth, no cold spots
- modern systems are less than 25mm thick so won’t significantly reduce your headroom
- it’s desirable so may make selling your house easier
There are some negatives to consider:
- if like me, you often dry clothes on radiators in the winter then you won’t be able to with underfloor heating
- it takes time to warm up so planning via a programmable is essential, this isn’t ideal for those who want heat quickly
- pipes are difficult to locate if your installation develops an issue
- isn’t easy to install and the work can be disruptive (floor up, doors and skirting boards off etc)
- smaller installations such as bathroom-only installations may still require a wall radiator/towel rail
How Much Does Underfloor Heating Cost to Install?
As we are sure you can appreciate, it’s very difficult to provide a realistic underfloor heating price without seeing the property first. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.
However, to supply and fit a good quality bespoke system to a typical property in the south of the United Kingdom, expect to pay:
£110 per square metre for the first 30 metres and then around £65 per additional square metre.
This price includes insulation, all parts and fittings, floor screeding and all labour.
There are cheaper “entry level” systems on the market but it’s usually best to spend a little extra on the materials, the labour cost is the same, regardless of the quality of the parts.
Also, don’t forget that retrofitting a system is much more expensive than installing a product during construction. There’s no flooring to lift up and much of the labour costs will already be budgeted for.
How Much do the Parts Cost? (supply only prices)
£65-75 per square metre is a typical price for the supply of a bespoke wet underfloor heating system pack including all the parts required for a retrofit installation, including self-levelling screed, pre-routed panels, pipes etc.
£9 per square metre for insulation which is often needed between timber floor joists or placed directly above the concrete. These act to deflect the heat upwards and away from the ground. Without adequate insulation at ground level, the system won’t run as efficiently as it could.
Electric mat floor heating products usually cost around £35 per square metre however, as stated earlier, they are more expensive to run and aren’t always suitable for larger areas.
Does the Type of Carpet or Flooring Affect the Performance of Underfloor Heating?
In one word: Yes.
This can be overcome by installing a higher capacity system but that will cost more to run. You can also fit extra insulation under the system to deflect more heat upwards. This adds extra cost to the build and raises the floor too.
In a nutshell:
Tiles allow the most amount of heat to transfer through into the home.
Wooden flooring blocks some heat but allows an acceptable amount of heat through.
Carpets, especially thick carpets and thick underlay allow the least amount of heat through, this results in slow warm up times and a cooler house.
The worst case scenario and one you want to avoid, is having little or no insulation under the pipes, thick underlay and carpets on top and a system that doesn’t have much capacity to create heat. Do bear in mind that many slimline systems are designed to be fitted without the need for digging up the ground floor, but these installations sometimes compromise on insulation and/or capacity.
This only reinforces the importance of choosing an installer that will first carry out a complete survey of the home and will take into account things like:
- the insulation value of the rooms
- the type of carpet/tiles/flooring etc you want
- the type of existing floor base you have on the ground floor
- where you live in the UK as some parts are consistently colder during the winter than others
Related price guide – see how much floor screeding costs here.
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