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:
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.
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!