Underfloor heating vs Radiators: which should you choose?

Posted in: Energy and Heating
A radiator and underfloor heating in a room

When deciding on installing a heating system, the most common option would traditionally have been adding radiators connected to a boiler. However, in recent years, underfloor heating (UFH) has become much easier to install and is considered to be a very versatile option.

In this article, we'll take a a look at the positives and negatives of both in order to help you make a decison on what type of heating system is right for you.

Installation costs

Underfloor heating

There are various factors that impact the cost of installing underfloor heating in a home, such as:

  • Is the house old or new?
  • Are the floors thick enough to accommodate underfloor heating?
  • Is electric or water underfloor heating being installed?
  • How large is the floorspace?
  • Will an existing heating system need to be removed?

The variables above should all be thought about before a decision should be made. Installation costs can be anywhere between £60 - £120 per square metre of underfloor heating, so it's important to bring in a professional who can accurately assess your individual requirements.

Radiators

The biggest expense when it comes to installing a hot water central heating system is the gas-fired boiler. If you already have a good one then the final cost of the install will be considerably cheaper than if it needs replacing.

For an average 2 bedroom home, you're likely to need around 6/7 radiators which will cost you in the region of £800, including labour. Add on a boiler and the cost is likely to increase to around £3000. To establish exactly what you need and how much it will cost, it's best to get a quote from a professional.

Running costs

Underfloor heating

The running costs of an electric heating system can be affected by a number of variables, including:

  • Quality of your floor insulation. The better it is, the more efficient your heating
  • Flooring materials. Tile or stone flooring will heat up more quickly than carpet
  • Room size. The bigger the room, the more energy it will take to heat up

A rough guide for running costs for an electric heating system can be calculated as 2.1p per hour per 1m², though the points made above can ultimately have an impact on how much your electricity ill will be.

Radiators

The cost of mains gas is approximately 2.4p per kilowatt-hour. If running a 24 kW boiler (the most common), and you have a reasonably well-insulated home, the central heating in a medium sized home central heating will cost around 57.5p per hour.

Assuming this house has an annual gas usage of 13,500 kilowatt hours per year, the yearly cost of the gas would be about £609.

Pros and Cons

Undefloor heating

One of the huge benefits of installing UFH is that you do not have to make any calculations or estimates regarding the heating system. The supplier of the UFH system will provide you with all the details you need to install it successfully. They will provide detailed layout drawings, which indicate where all the pipework and manifolds need to be positioned.

Other benefits include:

- Less supply pipes needed than a radiator system, which makes installation easier.
- UFH is less intrusive than radiators and you are not restricted to where you can put your furniture, as you are with radiators.

The main negative with UFH, is that most people will want to retrofit this system in a house that has likely had another heating system previously installed. While it’s a relatively simple installation in a new-build home, those wishing to convert their existing property will face considerable disruption and higher upfront installation costs.

Radiators

Most homes in the UK are heated by traditional hot water boiler and radiator systems. This means that there is a huge amount of experience, knowledge and design associated with this system, ultimately giving the homeowner great service, in terms of expertise and choice.

It is very easy to replace different components within the traditional boiler-radiator system. For example, if you need to replace a radiator, then you can isolate it, remove it and simply put in a new one, without having to rip up your floor and without paying the associated costs.

Another huge benefit is that every plumber or heating engineer knows exactly how a radiator central heating system works. They know how a radiator is fitted, how long it takes to install one, how much radiators cost and how big they need to big to heat the room they are installed in.

It’s very possible to have radiators and UFH working in tandem and heating your home very effectively. However, you would need to seek expert advice before proceeding and to check whether it’s the best solution, both technically and financially, for your home.

Radiators and currently the tried and tested, industry standard way of effectively and efficiently heating your home and show no signs of going anywhere. An additional positive of course, is that radiators can be a real focal point of your room and there are now a huge range of stylish and sophisticated rads available at very affordable prices.

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