Is underfloor heating better than radiators?

If you are fed up of trying to keep warm in a freezing house, it could be time to try something new. Maybe it’s the cost of heating, or the fact it seems to disappear as soon as it enters the room. Deciding how best to heat your home can be frustrating. We’ve been weighing up the effectiveness of water-based and electric underfloor heating with traditional radiators.

Underfloor heating is normally efficient because it effectively turns the whole floor into a radiator. The large surface area means it doesn’t have to be a high temperature to warm the room – only a couple of degrees warmer than normal room temperature. It can be expensive to install (especially if retrofitted) but can lead to energy savings in the long run. It uses 15-40% less energy than traditional radiators.

Underfloor heating pros

    • Efficient.
    • It can be laid in new and old homes.
    • It doesn’t take up wall space or dictate where you can put furniture – and it doesn’t show, unlike radiators!
    • Even distribution of heat – radiators concentrate heat in one spot, and the heat rises to the top of the room, where it’s not helping anyone! Non-standard room shapes can also have cold spots where the heating does not extend to.
    • Warm feet! There is definitely a certain luxury in the radiant heat of underfloor heating.
    • Does not circulate dust/allergens, unlike traditional central heating systems.
    • Some systems can be installed yourself if you are a competent DIYer! A single-zone wet underfloor heating kit can cost as little as £300.
    • Operates silently.

Underfloor heating cons

    • Installation is expensive if not done yourself.
    • The effects are not instantaneous; it can take up to two hours to heat a room.
    • Only works with certain types of flooring; heat may struggle to transfer through carpet.
    • It may restrict what furniture you can use.
    • Maintenance can be tricky if something goes wrong.
    • Won’t help you dry clothes – you can’t put a towel rail on the floor!

Radiator pros

    • Quick to heat up.
    • Easy to use.
    • Low-maintenance.

Radiator cons

    • Takes up space.
    • Heat rises, so some heat is lost through the ceiling rather than circulating into the room, whereas underfloor heating heats from below.
    • Can look ugly.
    • Can be noisy.

Conclusion

So is underfloor heating worth the cost? Or is it only good for warm feet? Underfloor heating can be a bonus, but more often than not the room will still rely on a humble radiator or alternative heat source in addition.