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Would you replace your radiators with underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating

Autumn is upon us and it’s hard to avoid looking towards the colder months and thinking about staying warm. Is underfloor heating the key to a cosy winter? Is it worth the cost and upheaval?

I’m a bit of a gloomy guts when it gets to this time of the year. Even the occasional sunny day can’t distract me from the fact that it’s getting dark earlier and the countdown to winter has begun. I can’t help my mind from being drawn to thoughts of chilly evenings and the annual realisation that I don’t have enough jumpers.

Yes, I’m already thinking about winter and wondering how cold it will get this year. Last year I managed to avoid switching my heating on until well into November, and I wonder if I can push it to December this year. I’m lucky though, my home is well-insulated and easy to warm up.

The building I live in is only a few years old and seems to have been built with energy efficiency in mind. Underfloor heating is standard in each of the well-insulated, double-glazed flats. I only recently realised that I have an Economy 7 electricity meter too, but I’m not sure how practical that is for me. I usually only have my heating on in the morning and evening. And it’s a small flat, so using my washing machine at night wouldn’t be ideal.

Is underfloor heating for you?

My rented flat is rather poky. If it wasn’t for the underfloor heating, I would have struggled to find a home for my modest amount of furniture. With no radiators to get in my way, I was able to squeeze in my bookshelves and drawers with the minimum of fuss.

My heating system is electric and seems fairly energy efficient. The most efficient underfloor heating systems benefit from heat pumps to draw warmth from the ground or the air. Unfortunately, a heat pump doesn’t appear to have been a practical option for my block of flats.

Are you tempted by the idea of underfloor heating for your home? If so, now is the best time to get it installed.

Water heating systems are complex to install, so you’ll need a professional engineer to fit them. Electric underfloor heating is less expensive to fit and there are some kits that a keen DIY enthusiast could tackle. You’ll still need a qualified electrician to connect your system to the mains, however. I was lucky to move into a home where the hard work had already been done.

Heart-warming radiators

I must confess, occasionally there are moments when I miss radiators. When I had the heating on in my previous flat, it was handy to be able to dry clothes on my nice, warm radiators. I also miss being able to stand next to a warm radiator after a walk in the cold. Lying face down on my hardwood floor just isn’t as cosy.

Which heating system warms the cockles of your heart? Do you already have underfloor heating? Do you think it’s better for your energy bills?


Given a choice between underfloor-heating and radiator
emissions, it is the former every time as it provides better
and more effective heating all-round.

Long ago when I came here to study, I was put up in a hall
of residence for a winter term that had both forms of heating that
was very warm and comfortable. The bathrooms had both these
forms of heating too.

In London SW1 nr Harrods, it was much too valuable a piece
of real estate for student residential use… last heard of
it was converted to Crown Court use that presumably is still

jordan doheny says:
14 May 2015

i love this idea it really brings out your eyes, i also love these nuts`


My understanding of the electric kit underfloor heating is that it has a limited life span around a decade but mileage may vary with use. When we revamped a small bathroom we did have it fitted under vinyl as for a very small space it was very cheap and easy to fit. An electrician connected up the controls etc.

For light use fine. Installing it in a conservatory under tile I think could be expensive in usage, and expensive when it goes wrong to put right. Electric is an expensive form of heating normally so I would not rush to install it.

The main heating here is a gas fired air system. I replaced the 40 year old Lennox burner with a modern Lennox which is claimed 98% efficient. It is also a sealed system unlike its predecessor so the air for burning and the exhaust gas is all outside. Additionally you can add aircon and charged filter system. In our climate the aircon is unnecessary particularly as the air system will blow air around in the summer if required.

The house is a 1960’s with huge amounts of window so the solar gain in the morning and during the day is vast so a wet system would have trouble adjusting to the rapid rise. The flipside is even double glazing cannot stop quite a lot of heat loss during the heating season. : (

I did have an wet underfloor system installed in a new extension at a previous house which I put under tile over concrete as that is the most efficient transfer system. Roughly 40 square meters was sufficient to keep most of the house warm – effectively it was a giant storage heater but gas-fired.

I have considered air source and ground source heat pumps and I do think there is some benefits – huge benefits if you do not have mains gas or your own private woodland. I think it is a technology that needs to be more known as though it will not suit everyone it is an option that ought to be in the frame. Beware of cowboys as new technology can sometimes mean someone is using you as a training chance!


I too have a 1960’s house with huge amounts of window. But it has a wet radiator system. I’m guessing converting to an air system would be prohibitively expense – we have concrete floors downstairs. Any thoughts?


Very unlikely that you could reasonably retro-fit a hot air system to a property. Having said that all calculations really should be based on how long do you intend to stay at the property and how much are you willing to spend.

There are a couple of things to consider. The forthcoming generation of CHP boilers where you can create your own electricity whilst burning gas that heats water/house. There are three systems that I know of all undergoing trials in houses. There may be more companies and they all have slightly differnt technologies and strengths. Some rate electricity generation higher than heating etc.

Heat-pumps are a technology i like and have been improving quite quickly in performance. As I am not currently buying I only keep half-an-eye on the market but you can get blown air, heated water, heat boosted water ………

An interesting technology much adopted in countries other than the most of the English speaking world. A big hit in Japan where the Government put some serious muscle into making it a very common system. Also used on the continent,

I also only have a hazy idea on the various solar offerings whether electrical generating or water heating. Here again apart from buying an immersion heater already fitted with additional pipe-work if I Invest I only take a passing interest,

There are more uncommon ways to heat property such as painting walls black to harvest the heat from the sun etc, but this only make sense if you intend to stay at a location for a long time – 10 years plus.

Anyway a lot of information is here:

Whilst on technologies ignored by the


Katie – As you have Economy 7 this might be a useful read. Its quite exhaustive and runs to nearly
6,000 words.


I am a little bemused though that if the flats are purpose built with electric underfloor heating then the assumption must be that the meter is for the underfloor heating. Perhaps the residents company can explain it,

Incidentally there is a fair bit of research on how the position of a flat within a block has a marked effect on heating costs. Ideally you want a middle, possibly top floor non-end flat. As you can appreciate if you are surrounded by other flats then you should be benefitting from their heating.


Thank you for that link, Dieseltaylor. I’ll certainly be adjusting my thermostat to only use heating during the night when the time comes to switch it on.

I definitely benefit from the position of my flat. Although the building is quite exposed to winds from the north, my flat is on the fourth floor with one further floor above and flats on either side. It makes it harder to cool the flat in the summer, but I can live with a bit of discomfort if I’m saving on my bills in the winter.


No doubt underfloor heating does provide more evenly heat distribution in a room and it will allow more flexible positioning of furniture.

But installation cost is much higher than radiators because of the extra floor insulation and kit needed and if anyone thinks it’s more economical on a day to day bill paying basis they’ve either found a way to defy the laws of physics or they’re deluding themselves.

Underfloor heating using a mains gas boiler wet system will result in your bills remaining much the same given you heat to the same temperature. Although some saving might be possible with zone control, but you could fit that with a radiator system, it’s a factor of the control system rather than the heating emitter type. Electric underfloor heating, like all electric heating costs much more.

Underfloor heating can be very nice, very comfortable, very desirable, but a cost reducing measure it won’t be.

john says:
4 October 2013

they are not deluding themselves, and no breach of the laws of physics is needed.

A radiator system set to keep your feeling warm when sat in front of the tele will have the ceiling temperature up around 30 Celsius or more. Underfloor heating inserts the heat where you want it.

Phillee says:
4 October 2013

I am just about to buy a water based system, is there any early feedback or reports on which manufacturers and control gear are best buys?

Andrew says:
17 March 2014

Hi, How did u get on, we are about to buy a wet under floor system love to know how u did it?

Andy & Lesley


My last flat was a new build, with a wet underfloor heating system. No wall space taken up with radiators was good, but I really didnt like the big delays in heating up or cooling down. Also, underfloor heating in the bedrooms just wasnt practical. You want a bedroom to cool down overnight, but then heat up a bit in the morning when you get up. An underfloor system just doesnt react fast enough for this.

New house has radiators, which I much prefer.


I agree with IanW regarding the heating up time delay with wet underfloor heating. During Spring and Autumn, when the mornings are a little chilly and the days are still relatively warm, the room thermostat cuts-in early morning to trigger the underfloor heating. This then takes four or five hours for the heat to come through into the room, by which time it is not required: Result – gas used for no reason! One way around this would be to set the room thermostat to a lower temperature,

Upstairs in the bedrooms, we have a wet radiator system with room thermostat, which gives almost instantaneous heat-up and cool-down properties such that the problems IanW relates do not occur.

Mark says:
4 October 2013

We have just renovated a house and put in wate