Get a handle on underfloor heating costs and you will have a low-maintenance, user-friendly heating system that’ll keep your home cosy throughout the winter months. A well-installed setup can deliver excellent efficiency, too, and potentially even save money on energy bills.
Once limited to the domain of big budget self-builds and renovations, underfloor heating (UFH) is now considered a must-have feature for many home improvement projects. A plethora of products and systems are available to suit a range of scenarios, whether you want to lay UFH throughout the property or simply fit it as part of a bathroom refurb. With so many diverse solutions available, you can choose a more tailored setup that matches your requirements perfectly – without having to blow the entire budget for your project.
Of course, the amount you’ll spend on installation, running costs and maintenance will be affected by various factors. For example, are you planning to fit electric or water-based underfloor heating? Is the system being laid in an airtight new build home, or a period property that doesn’t have the same level of insulation?
‘Underfloor heating costs vary depending on the type of installation and also the size of the property. Budget anything from £20-£60 per m2 for supply only, with a similar figure again for installation,’ says Matt Densham from Robbens. ‘Typically, UFH is very cost-effective in a new build and becomes more expensive in a retrofit scenario.’
Underfloor heating installation costs
These are the things to consider:
Heat loss calculation When designing your underfloor heating system and putting together a detailed spec, your installer should conduct a room-by-room heat loss calculation. This will ensure you get the right product that reflects the unique requirements of your home.
Supply and labour costs You’ll need to factor in supply costs and labour costs for installing your UFH system. Though some electric-powered products aren’t beyond the realms of possibility for a competent DIYer to install, especially if you’re only laying the system in one room, bringing in a professional will always deliver the best results.
‘You can expect to pay between £200 and £300 per day in labour costs,’ says Luciana Kola, marketing manager at Uponor UK. ‘You will also need to call out a qualified electrician to connect the system to your power supply, which takes a few hours and costs will vary here, too.’
System design ‘For supply of a system design/layout plan, plus the full futureproof system and its components, costs start from about £36 per m2,’ says Tom Edmunds, general manager at Wunda Group. ‘Unfortunately, if a quote sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’
The type of system When it comes to installation costs, electrically powered systems have the edge over water-based arrangements, as they’re swift and straightforward to fit. However, while a warm water system means spending more at the outset, this needs to be balanced against the fact that it comes with lower running costs in the long term.
Electric systems can be especially cost-effective for small areas. For instance, when installed in a 4m2 bathroom, Warmup’s loose wire setup is priced around £470 + VAT (warmup.co.uk). This sum also encompasses insulation and a thermostat. For a larger space, a sticky mat (comprising electrically warmed cables), may be the smarter solution. For a room measuring 10m2, Warmup’s StickyMat Underfloor Heater would be priced at approximately £511.66 + VAT, with an additional £264.24 for insulation and £189.16 + VAT for Warmup’s 4iE Smart Thermostat.
The type of property Laying the pipework for UFH in a new home is typically more straightforward than in a renovation scenario. The extra work will, of course, will add to your overall labour costs.
Registered fitters When it comes to tracking down the best tradesperson for the job, find out whether your UFH supplier has its own Registered Installer scheme. This can be a good place to start, as it will provide a national database of skilled professionals who have experience fitting the products you’re using.
Asking a few key questions will allow you to determine whether you’ve chosen a competent professional for the job. For example, will your installer programme the controls for the system, including the thermostat, manifold and boiler? For a water-based system, will they pressure test the pipework before your screed and floor covering are laid?
There are a few key red flags to look out for during the installation process, too. A poorly-fitted system will often lead to poor performance, higher running costs and potentially even maintenance issues later. Make sure the pipes are laid at neat, regular intervals – conduits laid out with irregular spacing will not create the same even spread of heat across the surface of your floor.
Underfloor heating running costs
When it comes to totting up the usage, you will need to think about:
Efficient installation The key factor to bear in mind with running costs, is that a poorly fitted system can lead to patchy heat output. In turn, this may require you to turn up the temperature on your thermostat or have the heating turned on for longer. This will lead to higher running costs overall, so it’s important to your installation right from the start.
Underfloor vs conventional An efficient underfloor heating can offer significantly lower running costs than a conventional central heating system. ‘This is because UFH runs at a lower temperature than radiators, yet still produces the same level of warmth in the room,’ says Luciana from Uponor. ‘Radiators need to be heated to a higher temperature (between 65°C and 75°C) to warm a room effectively, whereas UFH only needs to run at a temperature of 29°C or less, thereby consuming less energy and keeping your energy bills far lower.’
Electric or water systems Electric UFH can cost as much as three to four times more than a warm water fed system, purely because the cost of electricity is more than natural gas per kWh. That being said, if you’re only installing electric UFH in a bathroom, it might be the best option as the associated running costs (as you’re not using it to heat the whole house) aren’t so prohibitive.
According to data provided by Nu-Heat, a 10m2 room heated by electric UFH will cost £224 per year compared to £45 per year for electric. For a 30m2 room, an electric powered system will cost £672 to run, compared to £134. These running costs are based on a standard electricity price of £0.14 per kWh and a domestic gas price of £0.028 per kWh.
Smart thermostats Using an effective system to control your UFH will help keep running costs to a minimum. Smart thermostats, for instance, can help prevent energy wastage by making sure your heating is only running when it’s needed. Plus, this setup also gives you access to remote management of your system, so if you decide to go to a restaurant rather than coming home for dinner, you can adjust the heating settings via smartphone. Some devices, like Warmup’s 4iE Smart Thermostat, provide user-friendly energy monitoring functionality which can also pave the way for energy savings.
Insulation Minimising heat loss through your floors is another way to keep running costs to a minimum. ‘Incorporating insulating boards can boost the warm-up period for your system, and reduce running costs by up to 50%,’ says Sarah Wazir, marketing executive at Warmup.
Underfloor heating maintenance costs
Wondering about the ongoing upkeep? Here’s what to consider:
- Regular inspection – Underfloor heating requires very little upkeep, as there are few moving parts contained within the system. ‘It is recommended that your heating engineer inspects the manifold every year, along with your boiler,’ says Matt from Robbens. ‘You may need to replace the pump every five to ten years (at Robbens, currently priced at £106.06) and the actuator heads (at Robbens, currently priced at £14.73) every 10 to 15 years. Over 10 years, I’d estimate you’ll need to spend approximately £250 on spare parts to fully maintain your UFH system.’
- Warranty – Check whether the installation is covered by any kind of warranty. This may cover the costs should any components fail within a specified period, providing your system has been fitted by one of the manufacturer’s approved installers. If you like to know exactly how much you’re going to be spending on maintenance. Typically, this type of contractual agreement will include an annual service of your heating system, plus cover in case an emergency callout is required. Prices vary, starting at around £20 per month.