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Plumbing & Heating
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Underfloor heating systems
Water underfloor heating
Under floor heating orange content
Water underfloor heating systems best suit new-build constructions
A water underfloor heating system, like its dry electric underfloor counterpart, can also sit beneath stone, tile, wooden or even carpeted surfaces.
It offers a heating alternative to radiators in bathrooms, kitchens, an entire house - or simply a means to warm up a cold floor on an early morning in winter. You might want to check out the pros and cons of underfloor heating first to see if its right for you.
Water underfloor heating explained
With a water-based underfloor heating system, a series of pipes connected to your boiler circulate warm water throughout the floor to heat the space. Alternatively, you can connect the water underfloor pipes to a or solar water heating system. If you are looking for a replacement boiler, read our impartial boiler reviews to make sure you get a good deal.
Because the heat emitted from a underfloor system is more evenly distributed than a single radiator, the system can use water at a lower temperature, making it a more efficient way of heating your home. According to Standard Assessment Procedure 2009 (SAP), an underfloor system typically improves condensing boiler efficiency by 3% compared to radiators.
Underfloor heating is generally associated with stone or tiled floors, but you can even fit it in a carpeted room - you'll just need to ensure that the carpet and underlay isn't so dense that it stops the heat moving upwards (a tog of no more than 1.5 is a general rule of thumb).
How water underfloor heating works There needs to be enough space to fit the piping, meaning you might have to elevate the floor level - not always possible if you're retrospectively installing underfloor heating to an existing bathroom or kitchen.
For this reason, water-fed systems are best suited to new floor constructions, where the floor itself can be designed to hold the pipework, and be adequately insulated to ensure the heating doesn't escape downwards.
According to SAP 2009 standards, there are different rates of responsiveness and efficiency depending on what the pipes are laid in. It recommends using pipes in combination with an insulated timber floor for the best results, followed by pipes in screed.
Unlike using ready-to-roll electric mat - which confident DIYers could lay themselves - installing a water underfloor system should only be fitted by a professional. You can find heating engineers or underfloor heating specialists in your area using Which? Local, our unique trader recommendation service.
They'll be able to advise you on the best type of underfloor heating for your room size and shape. They will also need to test your boiler to check it can support the system.
The right boiler for you
Most old gas and oil boilers are regular boilers - they have a separate hot water cylinder to store hot water, rather than providing it directly from the boiler. When you replace your boiler you have a choice of buying a new regular boiler, and keeping your hot water cylinder, or buying a combi boiler that doesn't need a cylinder.
A regular boiler is more efficient than a combi at producing hot water in the first place, but then some heat is lost from the hot water cylinder, so a combi may be more efficient overall. The best option for you will depend on a number of factors:
How much hot water do you use? A large family using lots of hot water could be better off with a regular boiler – a smaller household using less may be better off with a combi. short of space? combi boilers dont need a hot water cylinder, and so need less space.
Are you thinking of installing solar water heating? Something to consider - Many combi boilers are not compatible with solar water heating or cannot use it so effectively.
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