Electric underfloor heating

Underfloor heating systems can offer a streamlined alternative to radiators
Underfloor heating systems – which can sit beneath stone, tile, wooden or even carpeted surfaces – will help to keep cold floors and rooms toasty, and can offer an alternative to using radiators to deliver central heating.

There are two main types of floor heating to choose from: electric underfloor heating, which is also known as a dry system, and water, pump-driven, underfloor heating, or a wet system. You might want to read our guide to the pros and cons of underfloor heating first. Here, we look at how an electric system works.

Electric underfloor heating explained

A series of electric wires are installed beneath or within your flooring as a means of heating an area or room – a cold, tiled bathroom floor, for example.

The electric system you install will depend on the size of the room and the type of flooring it has – options include loose-fit wiring flexible enough to fit into small or awkward spaces, electric cable systems, or heating mats you roll out to cover larger areas.

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).

Electric underfloor heating

Electric underfloor heating is a series of electric wires installed beneath flooring
How electric underfloor heating works
The electric heating sheets or cables are fitted beneath the flooring, and usually on top of a layer of screed (to ensure the surface is completely flat) and a layer of floor insulation (to keep the heating source travelling upwards rather than down).

A qualified electrician will need to connect your system up to your electric mains supply, and fit a sensor that connects to the thermostat. This allows you to control the temperature and pre-set the system to turn on or off. If you’re a Which? member, you can find a recommended trader in your area using Which? Local, which lists reviews and details of trade professionals by location.

Different electric underfloor heating systems are compatible with nearly all flooring types – if you’re unsure, consult a professional to advise on the best product for your room and flooring.

Because electric systems are generally quite thin, they’re easier and less hassle to install in an existing room than a wet heating system, which requires space for pipework and could involve the floor being raised.

Electric underfloor heating costs

Prices for roll-out underfloor heating mats start from around £75 per square metre (or less the more metres you’re buying). You can buy a loose-fit kit from around £100 per square metre.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of insulation board, screed and heating controls, as well as an electrician’s call out and labour charge – our tradespeople costs guide has some typical jobs and charges to use as a benchmark.

While electric underfloor heating is cheaper to install than a wet system, it’s more expensive to run – particularly as it’s not conducive to use in combination with an off-peak electricity tariff such as Economy 7, for example (unless you only want to run your underfloor heating at night).

For that reason, the Energy Saving Trust doesn’t recommend this form of underfloor heating for large areas.

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