How energy efficient is electric underfloor heating?

Many people consider underfloor heating a luxury item and thus believe that is it expensive to purchase and run. Thank-fully this is not so, electric underfloor heating is actually more energy efficient than forced air systems such as reverse cycle air conditioning.

Electric underfloor heating provides radiant heat which works by warming people and objects rather than warming the air around them as a forced air system does. This means that the air temperature in the room can be lower and the people in the room will still feel warm and comfortable. Electric underfloor heating systems also typically covers the entire floor area which results in an even distribution of heat throughout the room. However, with a forced air system the warm air is distributed through several vents throughout the room which results in uneven heat distribution which means the heating needs to be on for a longer period of time in order for the whole room to be heated. The vents for forced air systems are typically installed in the ceiling and as hot air rises the air actually has to cool down slightly before in will fall and start warming up the room. This results in heat loss and an uncomfortable heating sensation with hot heads and cold feet.

Difference in heat distribution between forced air type heating and underfloor heating

The efficiency of an electric underfloor heating system can be further improved through the use of insulation boards and a programmable thermostat. As heat moves equally in all directions until it reaches a layer of thermal resistance, heat from an electric underfloor heating system is lost into the substrate below. However, by installing a layer of insulation boards below the floor heating this reduces the downward heat loss and forces the heat to be radiated up into the room thus reducing the heat up time and improving the efficiency of the system by up to 50%.

The use of a programmable thermostat will also improve the efficiency of the underfloor heating as this allows you to set the heating to only be on when required. With a Thermotouch programmable thermostat you can also set a temperature for the ‘off’ times (recommended between 15-18°C) which means that it will maintain this temperature even when the floor heating is set as off, eliminating huge spikes in use when the floor heating turns on.

Now we know that electric underfloor heating is energy efficient especially compared to a forced air system however many people are still concerned about the running costs of an electric underfloor heating system. You can use our running costs calculator to determine what it will cost to run electric underfloor heating in your area.