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What is Underfloor Heating? Understanding the Warmth Beneath Your Feet

by Jimmy Acton 04 Feb 2024

Underfloor heating is an efficient and increasingly popular method of heating homes and commercial spaces, offering a blend of comfort, aesthetic simplicity, and energy efficiency. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of underfloor heating systems, their types, benefits, and why they might be the perfect heating solution for your space.

Introduction to Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating (UFH) operates on the principle of radiant heat, meaning it heats the objects and people in the room directly, rather than warming the air first. This approach not only enhances comfort but also contributes to better air quality and energy efficiency. UFH can be installed beneath various types of flooring, including tile, wood, and carpet, making it a versatile option for different interior designs and preferences.

Types of Underfloor Heating Systems

There are two primary types of underfloor heating systems: electric (or dry) systems and water-based (or wet) systems.

- Electric Underfloor Heating: This system uses electric wires or mats installed beneath the floor surface. It is relatively easier and less costly to install compared to water-based systems, making it ideal for renovations and smaller projects. Electric UFH is highly efficient in smaller rooms or as a supplemental heat source.

- Water-Based Underfloor Heating: Water-based systems circulate warm water through pipes under the floor. Although the installation is more complex and initially expensive, they are more cost-effective in the long run, especially suited for new constructions or during major renovations. These systems can be connected to various heat sources, including boilers and renewable energy sources.

Benefits of Underfloor Heating

- Energy Efficiency: UFH systems distribute heat more evenly and operate at lower temperatures than traditional radiators, reducing energy consumption and lowering utility bills.
- Comfort and Health: The radiant heat provided by UFH eliminates cold spots and reduces dust circulation, which is beneficial for people with allergies.
- Space Saving and Aesthetics: Without the need for radiators, UFH allows for more wall space and a cleaner interior design.
- Versatility and Compatibility: Suitable for a wide range of flooring materials, UFH can be tailored to meet the heating requirements of various spaces.

Installation and Costs

The installation process and costs vary depending on the type of UFH system, the size of the area, and the current stage of the building's construction or renovation. While electric systems are less intrusive and can be more cost-effective for smaller projects, water-based systems, though initially more expensive, may offer greater savings in the long term due to their efficiency.

Maintenance and Longevity

Underfloor heating systems are known for their durability and require minimal maintenance, especially water-based systems, which can last as long as the building itself. Electric systems, while slightly less durable, still offer a considerable lifespan, making UFH a long-term investment in your property’s comfort and value.


Underfloor heating represents a smart, efficient, and comfortable way to heat your space. Whether you’re building a new home, tackling a renovation, or simply exploring more efficient heating options, UFH offers a wealth of benefits worth considering. With its energy efficiency, comfort, and aesthetic advantages, underfloor heating is an investment in both the present enjoyment and future value of your property.

Electric Underfloor Heating - SoleHeat
1. Electric Underfloor Heating Installation: The first image visualises the process of installing an electric underfloor heating mat beneath a tile floor. It showcases a partially completed installation, with the electric heating mat laid out on one half of the floor, ready for the tiles to be placed on top.

Water Underfloor Heating - SoleHeat
2. Water-Based Underfloor Heating System: The second image provides a schematic diagram of a water-based underfloor heating system setup. It details the components of the system, including the boiler, manifold, and network of pipes, offering a clear understanding of how warm water circulates beneath the floor to provide heating.

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