Choosing and Running a Cheap Underfloor Heating System.

What kind of system to go for when looking for cheap underfloor heating, and how to run your system most efficiently.


Cheap underfloor heating is available in a few different configurations, but it will always use either pipes filled with warm water or electrical cables laid beneath the floor. Underfloor systems are generally much cheaper to run than other heating systems, although installation costs can sometimes be greater. However, these greater costs are usually easily made up for by the lower running rates.

Whilst underfloor heating is all quite affordable, the costs of different systems are not equal.

A quick guide to choosing cheap underfloor heating

Installation. Water or ‘wet’ underfloor heating systems are usually the most expensive to install. This is often because of how they are fitted into the floor. Electric cable systems are less expensive to install as the cables are much easier to lay than the wet system’s pipework. Other kinds of electrical systems include heating mats which are laid beneath the floor covering or heat panels which slot together beneath the floor covering.

Each of these is cheaper to install than a wet system.

Running costs. When it comes to the actual day-to-day use, wet underfloor heating systems are the most efficient. Warm water is much cheaper to run around the house than a constant electrical current, and the greater savings made over its lifetime will more than make up for the greater installation costs.

The best kind of cheap underfloor heating for you depends upon whether you wish to save money in the short or long term. A short term saving is best achieved with an electrical system, whilst wet systems provide a greater saving over an extended period of time.

How to run a Cheap Underfloor Heating system

Any underfloor heating system can be run more economically with a few simple configurations.

Zoning. By separating your home into a series of separate ‘zones’ you can make sure that you are only heating the areas that need to be heated at any one time or another. This way you can, for example, heat only the living areas such as kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms during the day and heat only the bedrooms late at night before you go to sleep. Unused rooms are not unnecessarily heated, and therefore you save a little extra money and energy.

Setback thermostat. On average, an underfloor heating system will take a longer time to heat a room from cold than a standard radiator system. For this reason a setback thermostat is a great idea. The thermostat keeps the temperate of the system at a minimum level of 4°C below its regular operating temperature whenever any room is not being used. This means that you are not spending too much money on heating the room fully when it isn’t needed, but that when it is needed it is heated up quickly.

Setback thermostats are aided by electric clocks which are able to adjust the heating level according to the time of day. This will mean that you can ensure the house is warm for your return from work in the evenings and when you wake up in the morning.

Using a setback thermostat is likely to generate savings of between 5% to 15% on top of the savings you will already be making by using underfloor heating in the first place.

 Energy efficient home. One of the best ways of making sure you are running a cheap underfloor heating system is to make your home as energy efficient as it can be. This means that all of the heat generated by the heating system will be put to best use and not wasted due to draughty windows and walls. Make sure that your walls are well insulated, and when it comes to windows you will want double, or perhaps even triple-glazed panes.

Heat pumps. For the greatest efficiency possible, using a heat source such as a heat pump alongside the underfloor heating system is a brilliant method. Most heat pump set-ups will generate savings in both costs and energy, but the energy efficiency of the building itself will need to be optimised for the best performance. Using a heat pump with a high heat loss rate will mean that the water coming from the heat pump will need to be of a higher temperate and therefore more expensive to generate.

Image: Jason Rogers

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