Underfloor heating costs – installation and operation of a system
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Keep underfloor heating costs under control and you’ll have an easy-to-maintain, user-friendly heating system that will keep your home comfortable throughout the winter months. A properly installed setup can also offer excellent efficiency and even potentially save money on energy bills.
Once limited to the realm of big budget self-builds and renovations, underfloor heating (UFH) is now considered a must-have feature for many home improvement projects. A plethora of products and systems are available to suit a range of scenarios, whether you want to install UFH throughout the property or just install it as part of a bathroom remodel. With so many diverse solutions available, you can choose a more personalized setup that perfectly matches your needs – without having to spend your entire project budget.
Of course, the amount you spend on installation, operating costs and maintenance will be affected by various factors. For example, are you planning to install electric or water-based underfloor heating? Is the system installed in a new airtight house or in a period property that does not have the same level of insulation?
âUnderfloor heating costs vary depending on the type of installation and also the size of the property. Allow something of Â£ 20-60 per m2 for procurement only, with a similar figure again for installation, âsays Matt Densham of Robbens. âTypically, UFH is very profitable in a new build and becomes more expensive in a renovation scenario. “
Underfloor heating installation costs
Here are the things to consider:
Calculation of heat losses When designing your underfloor heating system and developing a detailed specification, your installer should perform a heat loss calculation room by room. This will ensure that you are getting the right product that reflects the unique requirements of your home.
Supply and labor costs You will need to consider procurement costs and labor costs for installing your UFH system. While some electrical products are not beyond the installation possibilities of a skilled handyman, especially if you are only installing the system in one room, bringing in a professional will always give the best results.
âYou can expect to pay between Â£ 200 and Â£ 300 per day in labor costs,â says Luciana Kola, Marketing Manager at Uponor UK. âYou will also need to hire a qualified electrician to connect the system to your power supply, which takes a few hours and costs vary here as well. “
System design “For the supply of a system design / layout plan, as well as the complete future-proof system and its components, costs start at around Â£ 36 per m2”, explains Tom Edmunds, Managing Director by Wunda Group. “Unfortunately, if a quote sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The type of system When it comes to installation costs, electrical systems have the advantage over water-based installations because they are quick and easy to install. However, while a hot water system means spending more up front, this has to be weighed against the fact that it results in lower running costs in the long run.
Electrical systems can be particularly profitable for small areas. For example, when installed in a 4m2 bathroom, the price for Warmup’s bulk cable setup is around Â£ 470 + VAT (warmup.co.uk). This sum also includes insulation and a thermostat. For a larger space, a sticky mat (including electrically heated cables) may be the smarter solution. For a room measuring 10m2, Warmup’s StickyMat underfloor heating would be priced at around Â£ 511.66 + VAT, with an additional Â£ 264.24 for insulation and Â£ 189.16 + VAT for the thermostat intelligent 4iE from Warmup.
The type of property Laying the piping for the UFH in a new home is usually easier than in a renovation scenario. The extra work will, of course, add to your overall labor costs.
Registered adjusters When it comes to finding the best craftsman for the job, find out if your UFH supplier has their own registered installer program. This can be a good place to start, as it will provide a national database of trained professionals who have experience in fitting the products you use.
Asking a few key questions will help you determine if you have chosen a competent professional for the job. For example, will your installer program the system controls including the thermostat, manifold, and boiler? For a water-based system, will they test the pressure of the piping before laying your screed and flooring?
There are also a few key red flags to watch out for during the installation process. A poorly installed system will often lead to poor performance, higher operating costs, and potentially even maintenance issues down the road. Make sure that the pipes are laid at even and neat intervals – ducts laid out with irregular spacing will not create the same even distribution of heat over your floor surface.
Underfloor heating operating costs
When it comes to taking stock of usage, you’ll need to think about:
Efficient installation The key factor to keep in mind with operating costs is that a poorly equipped system can result in uneven heat output. In turn, this may require you to raise your thermostat temperature or turn on the heating for longer. This will lead to higher overall operating costs, so it is important for your installation from the start.
Sub-floor vs conventional Efficient underfloor heating can offer significantly lower operating costs than a conventional central heating system. âThis is because the UFH operates at a lower temperature than the radiators, while producing the same level of heat in the room,â explains Luciana of Uponor. “Radiators need to be heated to a higher temperature (between 65 Â° C and 75 Â° C) to heat a room efficiently, while UFH only needs to operate at a temperature of 29 Â° C or less, thus consuming less energy and keeping your energy bills much lower.
Electric or water systems Electric UFH can cost up to three to four times more than a hot water-powered system, simply because the cost of electricity is higher than natural gas per kWh. That being said, if you are only installing the electric UFH in a bathroom, this might be the best option as the associated running costs (since you don’t use it to heat the whole house) are not so. prohibitive.
According to data provided by Nu-Heat, a 10m2 room heated by electric UFH will cost Â£ 224 per year compared to Â£ 45 per year for electricity. For a 30m2 room, an electrical system will cost Â£ 672 to operate, compared to Â£ 134. These running costs are based on a standard electricity price of Â£ 0.14 per kWh and a domestic gas price of Â£ 0.028 per kWh.
Smart thermostats Using an efficient system to control your UFH will help keep running costs to a minimum. Smart thermostats, for example, can help avoid wasted energy by making sure your heating only works when it’s needed. In addition, this setup also gives you access to remote management of your system, so if you decide to go to a restaurant rather than coming home for dinner, you can adjust the heating settings via smartphone. Some devices, like Warmup’s 4iE smart thermostat, offer a user-friendly energy monitoring feature that can also pave the way for energy savings.
Insulation Minimizing heat loss through your floors is another way to keep running costs to a minimum. âIntegrating insulation boards can increase the warm-up time of your system and reduce operating costs by up to 50%,â says Sarah Wazir, Marketing Manager at Warmup.
Maintenance costs for underfloor heating
Are you wondering about the maintenance in progress? Here’s what to consider:
- Regular check – Underfloor heating requires very little maintenance, as there are few moving parts contained in the system. âIt is recommended that your heating contractor inspects the manifold annually, as well as your boiler,â says Matt of Robbens. âYou may need to replace the pump every five to ten years (at Robbens, currently priced at Â£ 106.06) and the actuator heads (at Robbens, currently priced at Â£ 14.73) every 10 at 15. Over 10 years I estimate you will need to spend around Â£ 250 on spare parts to fully maintain your UFH system. ‘
- Guarantee – Check if the installation is covered by any warranty. This can cover the costs in the event of a component failure within a specified timeframe, provided your system was installed by one of the manufacturer’s authorized installers. If you want to know exactly how much you are going to spend on maintenance. Typically, this type of contractual arrangement includes annual maintenance of your heating system, as well as emergency response coverage. Prices vary, starting at around Â£ 20 per month.