How to Heat Your House and Home

Posted on 1 Comment

Not so long ago, if you were a typical UK home owner fed up with the drudgery and dirt associated with open fires, you might have been wondering how to heat your house and home.  Most people at the time looked forward to installing central heating.

Central heating promised a level of comfort and ease not possible with open fires and ranges. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s fireplaces were bricked up and blocked off, and radiators proudly hung on walls to complete the look of modernity.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators heat the room mainly through convection. Which is not a good thing as convection is inefficient and spreads dust and germs (a major problem for asthma sufferers or people with dust-related allergies) and causes uncomfortable draughts at ankle level.[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that the heating is either on or off throughout the house including rooms you’re not using.[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators take up wall space limiting where you place your furniture. To minimise this inconvenience, many radiators are under the window meaning you can’t open the window without losing all your heat.  At night, you can’t even draw the curtains without trapping all the heat behind![/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Never mind that radiators rust, can sludge up over time, and have valves and pipe-work that can leak. And that the typical gas boiler has a limited life and needs regular expensive maintenance for safety reasons.[/box]

Despite all these drawbacks installing central heating was almost universally seen as progress. It certainly made life easier and cleaner. Coal fires made a lot of mess in the house and the smoke dramatically affected air quality in towns and cities.

The gas burned to heat the majority of central heating boilers didn’t seem to have these drawbacks. But then we didn’t know as much then about the environmental damage of the CO2 produced by the typical gas boiler as we do now.

For those who weren’t connected to mains gas, electric storage heaters were popular for a time. But these relied on convection and took up space as well and an additional snag was that they couldn’t be effectively controlled to give you heat when you needed it.

The buzz in the energy industry is ‘renewables’ and the vast majority of renewables schemes harness renewable energy sources – wind, wave, tide, solar, hydro – and convert the energy to electricity. As the technology develops prices will come down and electricity will be the greenest possible energy source with which to heat your home.

And then there is nuclear power – not without its own difficulties certainly – which has the potential to produce all the electricity we will ever need.  Current research into using Thorium as a fuel looks promising.

So electricity will never be in short supply.  Your choice on how to heat your house and home has never been simpler.

With your renovation or new build you’ll be keen to add value and future-proof your home. So long as the sums add up. So let’s take a closer look:

Comfort heating

You’ve probably experienced underfloor heating – either electric underfloor heating or a wet system – and marvelled at the warmth and comfort you immediately feel. This is the effect of ‘radiant’ heating.

The floor surface under you is heated and the heat radiates upwards without any convection draughts. The floor surface is warm to touch and, even with hard surfaces such as ceramic tiles, is a pleasure to walk on in socks or bare feet.

Luxury indeed.

Set that thermostat lower

What you may not know is that the air temperature with radiant underfloor heating is lower than with a convection/ radiator system for a similar level of comfort. This is part of the appeal of electric underfloor heating and is an indication of just one of the ways energy usage is efficiently controlled.

No more overheated stuffy air familiar to all central heating users. Just a relaxing feeling of warmth – almost a feeling of wellbeing – from the gently radiating warm floor.

Zoning makes sense

How long do you and your family spend in the bathroom in the morning? 15 minutes? 30 minutes?

Does it make sense to have the heating on in the bathroom at the same time, and for the same duration, as the heating in the living room? Or the heating in the kitchen on for the same time as the heating in the bedroom?

Unless you’ve got a very sophisticated zoned central heating system then the chances are you don’t have any choice over this and just accept that a lot of this heat is wasted.

So when you’re planning how to heat your house and home you should consider how zoning will enable to achieve maximum efficiency and minimum energy usuage.  Electric underfloor heating makes it easy to zone each part of your home to fit your lifestyle. With individual thermostats and timers in each room you only heat rooms at the times you use them.

So you can start to see how electric underfloor heating has much more efficient energy usage than central heating.

Does it heat up quickly?

The Generation 4 heating element we use lies just below the floor covering for rapid response times. This means you need only set the timer for the heating to come on 15 – 20 minutes before you want to use the room.

And that same rapid response time applies when the heating is turned down or turned off, for instance if the sun comes out and warms the room.

A slow response was always a problem with electric storage heaters leading to a lot of wasted heat.  The same is true with old technology electric underfloor heating using a thick cable buried in a heavy concrete screed.

What about maintenance?

Regular, professional, maintenance is essential for conventional central heating. Efficient combustion is critical to the operation of a gas boiler for environmental, economy, and safety reasons. So it’s imperative you have your boiler regularly serviced by a registered gas engineer.

Modern boilers typically come with a 5 or 7 year guarantee and last for, maybe, 10 years before needing replacement.
If you’ve ever experienced a radiator leak you’ll know how filthy the water is and how it can quickly cause a mess, ruining floor coverings and seeping into the room below.

Of course, none of these maintenance or repair issues apply to electric under floor heating.

With advances in element design, and the low cost of fully programmable digital thermostats, you’ll quickly appreciate that electric under floor heating’s time has come. That’s why many new builds now specify under floor heating.

Don’t miss this opportunity to build the future into your project!

Home Heating Economy Tips

Posted on 2 Comments

The electric underfloor heating kits supplied by BeWarmer are very efficient and do a great job of converting electrical energy into radiant heat.  But we all have a duty to reduce our energy consumption as much as possible and so you may find these home heating economy tips useful.

If you’re used to conventional central heating system with radiators you’re in for some pleasant surprises!  It’s important to learn how to use your electric underfloor heating system to full advantage.

For a start, you will set your thermostat lower.  Most people find 20ºC a comfortable room temperature. But because radiant floor heating is much more comfortable than draughty old convector radiators,  around 18ºC is often found to be warm enough.  Of course, this all depends on how you use the room but you should experiment to find the most comfortable setting.

Taking this a stage further we recommend that when you’re not in the room, you leave the thermostat on a setting of between 12-15ºC.  This is better than switching it off as that the floor and the room will never become too cold. Accordingly the heater element does not have to stay on very long to maintain this background temperature and is cost effective. If there’s a set pattern to your room usage you can easily achieve this with your programmable thermostat.

It’s also worth noting that when you switch the system on from cold, it will not heat up any faster by setting the thermostat to it’s maximum position. Simply set the thermostat to the setting you find comfortable and the heater will draw full power until the temperature is reached.

How long your system will draw full power depends on how much heat needs to be put into the room. This is governed by the amount of heating that needs to be done and the rate of heat loss. If there is a high rate of heat loss because the difference between inside and outside temperatures is high, or the insulation values of your room are poor, (or a combination of the two), then the floor will have to run hotter to maintain a comfort level.

So paying attention to the age and condition of your windows, doors, ceiling and walls, and making sure doors and windows are not kept unnecessarily open, will have a major impact on how much energy is used. Of all the home heating economy tips, reducing heat losses will make your heating system run more efficiently and economically.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]

Common sources of heat loss are:

  • No insulation in the ceiling.
  • Open curtains or no curtains.
  • Open doors / windows (some advisable for ventilation).
  • Open chimneys of fireplaces.
  • Open stairwells.
[/box]

Since most electricity is still generated using non-renewable fossil fuels, releasing a lot of CO2 into our atmosphere, it is important that we run our heating systems as economically as possible.  Hope you’ve found these home heating economy tips useful.

How quickly does underfloor heating warm up?

Posted on

Because our system is really part of the floor construction, rather than ‘underfloor’, you’ll quickly feel the difference when the system comes on.  Our type of heating is also known as ‘surface heating’, ‘floor finishing heating’, or, in the US, ‘floor decor heating’. But how quickly does underfloor heating warm up?

How quickly does underfloor heating warm upIn practice there are a number of factors that will influence exactly how quickly you’ll get the comfort level you want including

  • thermostat setting
  • sub floor construction materials and insulation
  • rate of heat loss
  • the floor finish (tiles are the quickest to heat up)

Read more about Home Heating Economy Tips.

Conventional underfloor or in slab systems, both electric and wet (with a gas boiler), take up to 2 hours per degree C increase. That makes it very expensive to run as you need to leave them on 24/7 because you can not regulate the floor mass temperature.

Our system is on top of concrete and some on top of screed and insulation or underlay.  Temperature rise is up to 1 degree C per 2 minutes, or up to 60 times faster!!!  This means super controllability and the opportunity to have on/off with timers and energy saving.

How quickly does underfloor heating warm up depends on insulation under the heating and teh conductivity of the floor finish but optimizing all insulation aspects provides near instant natural radiant comfort.

Optimised BeWarmer heating means laminates warm from within 20 minutes, and ceramic tiles within 35 minutes. Thicker engineered woods within 50 minutes.

BeWarmer installation are just under the floor finish and don’t heat the concrete, or slab underneath. Instead the warmth is soon felt in the room above. All heating may be installed on top of as much insulation as you can fit.

What if the heating element gets damaged?

Posted on

KlimaGuardEach Coldbuster kit contains a KlimaGuard® installation monitor which will alert you to any damage to the element during installation or laying the floor covering. If the KlimaGuard® warning signal goes off, you should stop the installation and call for assistance.

The KlimaGuard® monitor offers a ‘continuous health check’ throughout installation and no-one should ever try laying a heater without it …ever!

The national chain of SPEEDHEAT® franchises have the equipment and the expertise to locate and repair damage quickly and efficiently.  PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE A CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE.  SpeedHeat can pinpoint a single damage to within a pin drop, and the specialized equipment and expertise applied is 99,999% success and repairs 100% secure and safe.

Please ensure you have some spare tiles or planks – in the event that a heating element is damaged, some of the floor covering may have to be lifted and replacements will be needed.

What are the safety rules for floor heating in wet areas such as a bathroom?

Posted on

Bathroom Underfloor HeatingIf floor heating is to be installed in a bathroom, the following is important:

The thermostat as well as isolator or plug must be positioned at least 600 mm away from bath-tub or shower-pan (Zone 3). [box type=”info”]Best practice is to locate the isolator for the electric underfloor heating system on the outside of a bathroom.[/box]

 

  • The system must be properly earthed, and all metal objects in the bathroom like taps etc. must be interconnected to that same earth (equipotential bonding).
  • The system must be connected through an RCD (residual current device) rated at 30mA or less
  • Although legal, the heating will not have much effect under a bathtub
  • The heating element must have an earth sheath (all Coldbuster™ heating elements do).
  • The cold tails must be screened, double insulated or run in a conduit.

 

Underfloor Heating Electrical Connections and Certificate of Electrical Compliance?

If you install less than 3 kW, you do not normally require a separate circuit.

Power may be supplied from a plug, or the heating may be connected onto a 32 amp ring circuit with the use of a switched fused spur for under 3kw. Anything above that must be run on its own circuit.

Heaters not connected via a socket and plug have to be connected through a double pole isolator as they are considered fixed appliances.

Installation of the isolator and connection to the supply must be done by a qualified electrician.

Top Tip: Fit a wireless receiver/ relay box and make all connections outside of the bathroom, and have a wireless thermostat conveniently positioned in the bathroom for maximum control.  It’s safe to drop the battery powered thermostat in the water but not recommended (you may ruin it)!

 

Does underfloor heating emit electromagnetic radiation (EMR)?

Posted on

Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) exists all around us in the natural world but it is occurrence in man made equipment is something that needs special attention.

All types of electrical equipment give off EMR – including the computer or device you are using now – and manufacturers, quite rightly, go to great lengths to screen equipment.  This is because the dangers of EMR and the influence on our wellbeing have not been established, but as our nervous system and brain workings are based on electric signals, exposure to EMR should be understood and managed!

The Coldbuster™ heater elements are fully screened and emit such low EMR that it can only be detected with the most sensitive professional equipment.  Not all electric underfloor heating systems are created equal so be sure to check for EMR screening.

EMR facts:

  • EMR is a complex issue and health issues depend on exposure as well as frequency of waves. (Gamma, X ray, Ultra Violet, Visual light, Infra red, short wave, medium, Fm, etc).
  • It is not dangerous below Ultra Violet (UV), and in the low frequencies – though some don’t trust this ‘fact’
  • Radio signals are also all round and are not dangerous (purportedly)
  • The intensity and duration of exposure may affect one negatively, if exposed all day long (e.g. medical X rays)
  • Electricity is in the 50- 60 Hertz range, well below Infra Red (IR), and believed not dangerous.  However some claim health issues living in high dense electric environment.
  • EMR intensity reduces by the square of the distance from the source.

EMR can not be avoided but managed well is no issue to every day life and health.  Understandably people want to avoid ‘unknown’ risks which is why you may have heard the safety of sleeping with your head on a 50Hz electric blanket for 8 hours a night  being called into question.

Troubleshooting

Posted on

You can be sure your Coldbuster™ floor heating kit is the simplest and most reliable form of heating with no moving parts and nothing to leak or block up.  But in the unlikely event it doesn’t seem to be working as it should, there are a couple of things you can check.

If your heater does not get warm:

  • Check that there is power at the wall socket, that the heater is plugged in and switched on. In case of a manual thermostat: turn the knob and check if the pilot light comes on or listen for a ‘click’ sound.

If the above fails, call the Helpline 0333 121 0160

 

Is it best to run the heating continuously?

Posted on

If you’ve read our Home Heating Economy Tips you’ll know we recommend you consider running the heating continuously.

This applies principally to frequently used rooms during cold weather.  It means that if you turn the thermostat down when you are not in the room rather than switch it off, reaction time is fast when you next use the room.

But for occasionally used rooms the answer  is “no, switch the heating off when the room is not in use”.

As a footnote, you’ll be interested to learn that the thermostat works by switching the heating on and off to maintain the thermostat room  temperature (set point temperature).  This means the heaters are typically operating no more than about one third of the time – even when you think they are fully on!

How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

Posted on

COLDBUSTER® is a most efficient system when installed correctly and will give many years of trouble free operation.

In practice there are several factors that will affect the running costs so it is impossible to give totally accurate figures.  Power consumption will depend on heat loss*, sensible heat management, and the correct capacity installed.

Given a typical installation in the UK, COLDBUSTER® floor heaters should consume around 8-9 kWh of electricity per day for each kilowatt of installed capacity.  Insulation greatly assists in reducing the operating costs of floor heating and you should plan to have the greatest amount of insulation below the heater element as possible so the all the heat generated is radiated upwards.

If you’re comparing costs with conventional gas central heating don’t forget to factor in:

  • cost of boiler servicing
  • cost of boiler replacement
  • radiant heat (underfloor heating) thermostat set lower for a given comfort level

*heat loss is itself determined by energy gradient and insulation values (for more information please read Home Heating Economy Tips)

When you’re considering a modern high efficiency boiler, some other facts to consider:
1) Average life time burning effeciency of boiler around 80%.  Distribution effeciency from boiler to a certain room around 90%. Pump running reduces system efficiency by 5%.
2) Central heating needs to heat the whole system, radiator mass and water content each time it switches on, even for a small heat requirement in 1 room only.
3) Lower room temperatures maintained reduces around 15% energy loss from rooms. It is known and documented to be around 7.5% per degree.  And radiant heat offers a superior comfort level at lower room tempertures than convection radiators.

What size underfloor heating kit do I need?

Posted on

The size of the kit required is often dictated by the amount of available floor space available.

This is often quite restricted in bathrooms and kitchens where you do not want to heat the floor beneath cupboards, appliances, shower trays, WCs and other fixed objects.  In these situations you aim to heat all areas where people may walk, which normally means 90% of the available floor area.

Otherwise, if you have average requirements, you can cover about 60-75% of your floor with the Coldbuster heating system and gain a good comfort level.  But you should consider all of the following factors to be sure:

  • the size of the room
  • how much insulation
  • insulation value of windows and frames
  • orientation in respect of the sun
  • prevailing climatic conditions
  • use of the room
  • ventilation requirements
  • the comfort level you require

The guidelines for each product are:

[hr]

TileWarm™ – High output floor heating kit to go under ceramic tiles:

2m² kit covers 1.8m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 3m². Total output 285 Watts.

3m² kit covers 2.8m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 4 – 5m². Total output 440 Watts.

4m² kit covers 3.6m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 6m². Total output 570 Watts.

5 to 6m² kit covers 4.8m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 8 to 9m². Total output 760 Watts.

6 to 7m² kit covers 5.9m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 9 to 11m². Total output 940 Watts.

8m² kit covers 7.6m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 10 to 12m². Total output 1210 Watts.

10m² kit covers 9.4m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 13 to 16m². Total output 1500 Watts.

[hr]

WoodBWarmer™ – Self regulating floor heating kit to go under engineered wood or laminate.

4m² kit covers 2.9m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 4m². Total output 300 Watts.

5m² kit covers 3.6m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 5m². Total output 400 Watts.

6m² kit covers 5.1m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 6m². Total output 550 Watts.

7m² kit covers 6.3m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 7 to 8m². Total output 700 Watts.

9m² kit covers 8.1m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 9 to 11m². Total output 900 Watts.

11m² kit covers 10.3m² and is suitable for an overall room size of 12 to 14m². Total output 1100 Watts.
[hr]

If you need further guidance estimating your heating requirements please use the contact form on this website.