What's the lowdown on underfloor heating?
"I'm thinking about underground heating for a three-storey town house - any advice? Does it go in every room, including bathrooms and hallways? What happens to my radiators? Do I need a new boiler?"
Chris Ingram, managing director of Continental Underfloor (0845 108 7001), advises the following: "For a whole house we would recommend a warm-water - rather than an electric - system. The latter is ideal for small areas but less efficient than warm-water systems or even radiators. A warm-water system is simply a network of pipes stretched out to fit a whole floor area, then covered with carpet, wood flooring or tiles. You'd put it into every room (especially the bathroom - warm floors are great after a bath), and most systems in the UK allow individual temperature control for each room. Warm water under floor heating replaces radiators, so you will free up 10% more space in your house, and in nine out of 10 cases you shouldn't need to replace your boiler. It would cost around £12/sq m."
"Installation is a bit disruptive because you need to lift all carpets/tiles/wood floors, fit insulation in the floor, then fit the pipework before re-laying the floor covering. The pipes need to sit in some form of heat-emitting mass - a screed, a dry sand/cement mix, or (more complicated and expensive) aluminium sheets. This all adds height to the floor - typically three to four inches if no insulation is already present. However, at Continental we have developed a system (known as Slim Fix™) which adds only one inch to the floor height and incorporates the required insulation. The heat is emitted from the pipes, into the heat emitter (the screed or aluminium), through the floor covering, and into the room."
To view the article online: The Guardian Unlimited - Space solves - What's the lowdown on underfloor heating?