What’s on this page?
- The cost of underfloor heating
- What is underfloor heating?
- What types of underfloor heating are there?
- Which is the best type of underfloor heating?
- How much does underfloor heating cost to run?
- Central heating and radiators vs. underfloor heating
- How much does underfloor heating cost?
- Pros and cons of underfloor heating
- Can you install underfloor heating in old offices?
- What type of flooring works best for underfloor heating?
- How can I cut my office energy costs?
The cost of underfloor heating
Many offices these days are looking to cut down on costs and/or become more sustainable organisations. This process may include the implementation of an energy management strategy and an assessment of the energy consumption and resulting costs of office energy-users such as underfloor heating.
If your business is wondering how much underfloor heating costs to run (and how much energy it uses), read on…
To give you a better understanding of how much underfloor heating costs to run, we’ll explain a little more about how an underfloor heating system works.
What is underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating is an alternative to conventional radiators that can be installed under almost any type of flooring: wood, stone, tiles or even carpets.
Underfloor heating uses the basic principle of waves of heat rising through the air. Underfloor heating can be either a ‘wet’ system that pumps warm water through pipes under the floor, or ‘dry’ system of electric coils placed under the floor which heat up when the system is turned on.
Electric underfloor heating systems rely on a network of wires under the floor that heats up. Depending on the shape of the room, you can opt for heating mats which cover large areas, or individual wires which can get in every nook and cranny. Heating mats are generally a bit cheaper as they are a uniform size.
What types of underfloor heating are there?
The type of system you install will depend on the nature of your existing infrastructure, the type of floor you have, and cost.
Electric underfloor heating (dry systems)
Electric underfloor heating is:
- Cheaper to buy
- Cheaper and easier to install
- Suitable for DIY (you can install some of it yourself, but you’ll need it to be connected by a qualified electrician). The preferred choice for retrofits
- Commonly installed in smaller areas or rooms (such as bathrooms)
- Costly to run
How does electric underfloor heating work?
Electric underfloor heating systems work with a network of electrical wires running under the floor surface, warming the floor, but not heating the room efficiently. The wires can be installed as flexible (ideal for tight spaces), cable systems (covering larger areas more easily) or heating mats, which are the easiest to install.
When installing electric underfloor heating, you’ll need to place insulation down before the heating sheets or cables are laid to enhance the system’s efficiency.
Heat levels are controlled using a sensor, thermostat and control panel.
Water underfloor heating (wet system)
Water underfloor heating is:
- More complicated to install with higher installation costs
- Can be difficult to retrofit
- Ideally suited to new-build offices
- Usually reserved for new-builds
- Must be done by a professional
- More efficient than electric underfloor systems
- Best suited to larger areas.
- Works well at low temperatures.
- Cheaper to run since it uses the existing boiler system.
- Water pipes are thicker than wires, so you need to have enough room in your floor for the system to be installed (if not, the ground may need to be slightly raised).
How does water underfloor heating work?
Water (wet) underfloor heating uses a network of pipes to run hot water from a boiler or other heating device such as a solar heater ground source heat pump. The extensive water pipes radiate heat through the floor and into the room.
What type of boiler do I need for underfloor heating?
Water underfloor heating systems work with any boiler type (vented, wood, condensing). The system can actually work with any heat source (such as a heat pump). It will be connected to your heating source using a manifold.
Which is the best type of underfloor heating?
When you decide to install underfloor heating, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is which type of underfloor heater is most suitable for your needs – a water system or an electric system?
This table will help you compare them at a glance:
How much does underfloor heating cost to run?
Running of underfloor heating costs can vary depending on:
- Your office’s design
- How well insulated your building is
- Your energy tariff
- How you control and monitor your heating
The running costs in the table below have been based on an average electricity price of £0.14 per kWh for electricity and a price of £0.028 per kWh for domestic natural gas.
Cost of underfloor heating per year
|Electric underfloor heating (£)|
Water underfloor heating (£)
With a higher per kWh cost than natural gas, electric underfloor heating can cost about three to four times more to run than a warm water UFH system that is paired with a gas boiler.
Central heating and radiators vs. underfloor heating
Underfloor heating can be an effective alternative to traditional radiators or hot air heating systems, especially in rooms with cold floors made of stone or tile.
Underfloor heating can offer substantially lower running costs than traditional central heating. Here’s why:
- A radiator system may require water at a temperature of about 70°C – 90°C; whereas a wet underfloor heating system can perform at just 50°C.
- Underfloor heating systems heat up much quicker than central-heating based systems.
How much does underfloor heating cost?
The amount you pay for underfloor heating varies dramatically depending on which type you choose, whether it will be installed in a new room or retrofitted to an existing room, and what your floor structure is like.
We hope that the information above helps to give you an idea of how much it costs to run underfloor heating.
Remember, there are other costs associated with underfloor heating, such as the installation costs and system costs.
Underfloor heating installation costs
Any underfloor heating project also involves the cost of getting the system installed by a qualified heating and plumbing engineer.
The actual cost of underfloor heating installation is difficult to estimate, as costs are dependant on a number of variables:
- Type of underfloor heating being installed (water or electric)
- Whether the project is a new build or a retrofit
- The state of the existing central heating system – for example, the distance from the boiler system and the amount of extra piping required
- The area of the building (for example, London postcodes typically charge more)
- Typical rates for professional installers range from about £200-300 per day
Electric underfloor heating system installation costs
Prices for roll-out mats for electric heating start at around £180 for 10 square metres. Other costs:
- Insulation board
- Heating controls
- Electrician or tradesman costs
Water-based underfloor heating system installation costs
The price of installing a water underfloor system can vary, depending on:
- Whether the room you’re heating is on the ground floor
- How close the room is to the boiler
Pros and cons of underfloor heating
The pros of an underfloor heating system
- It distributes heat consistently and evenly around each room.
- May enhance the value of your property.
- Can be installed below a variety of floor types.
- Can heat a larger area than an individual radiator.
- Works at a lower temperature than a radiator.
- Hidden under the floor, saving space and preserving aesthetics.
- Can work out cheaper than conventional central heating over time.
The cons of an underfloor heating system
- Can be expensive and difficult to install
- Creating the right conditions under the floors of older buildings can take time and cause major upheaval
- Can take a long time to warm up
- You can’t use underfloor heating under some items of furniture or fittings.
Can you install underfloor heating in old offices?
Underfloor heating can be installed in any property, but it’s unlikely that it will be able to work efficiently in buildings with single glazing and no insulation. In this case, you’ll probably need to have radiators and central heating too to keep the room warm.
What type of flooring works best for underfloor heating?
Underfloor heating works well under most types of flooring, such as tiles, laminate and vinyl. However, some types of flooring (like stone) work better since they are natural heat conductors. This means that the floor will heat up more quickly and the warmth will stay for longer.
Your type of flooring also affects the temperature you will be able to achieve with your underfloor heating system.
Here are some underfloor heating considerations for different types of flooring:
Underfloor heating for wooden flooring
Wood can generally be heated to a maximum of 27°C, but it’s worth checking with the manufacturer since temperatures that are too high can shrink and warp the flooring. If you like the look of wood, engineered wooden or laminate floors can be a better choice.
Underfloor heating for carpets
Carpet can be heated to a maximum temperature of 27°C. Carpets aren’t the most efficient floor covering over underfloor heating, since it will take time for the heat to get through.
Underfloor heating for concrete
Exposed concrete is a popular modern look, but it shouldn’t be used to encase an underfloor heating system. Rather, both water and electric underfloor heating systems should be installed within screed. Concrete will take longer to warm up, but will retain its heat for longer.
How can I cut my office energy costs?
See our full office energy saving guide for more energy-saving ideas.