How to control your heating this winter

With Christmas approaching, it’s the time of year we all start wondering: “how do I control my heating?”

Knowing your heating controls and how to operate them correctly will help you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting energy, costing a fortune or costing the Earth.

We answer your most frequently asked questions to help you confidently control your heating this winter.

Neostat on wall

How should I use my thermostat/s?

A simple tip is to remember that a thermostat is simply a switch that turns the heating on and off depending on the room temperature. Thermostats are commonly mistaken for a throttle, turned up high with the misconception that this will speed up the heating of your home. By correctly using your thermostat, setting it at the desired temperature, you avoid wasting energy by accidentally overheating your home.

What temperature should I set my thermostat to?

This varies from person-to-person, but generally 21°C is the ideal temperature for living areas. Bedrooms tend to be set slightly cooler at 18°C.

The temperature you choose can make a big difference to both the comfort of your home and your bank balance – by turning your room thermostats down by just 1 degree could save £80-£85 and 340kg – 350kg CO2 per year according to the Energy Savings Trust.

Should I leave my heating on all day?

This can depend on the heating system you have installed and your lifestyle. Generally, for a comfortable and welcoming home that isn’t wasting energy, you should set a timer.

When setting up your timer, use a cold evening and time how long it takes for the heating to warm up to a comfortable temperature – this is the warm up time. Then switch the system off, and time how long it takes the system to cool down to cold – this is the cool down time. With these two figures you can now work out an accurate timing schedule for the heating system. If you know it takes 30 minutes to reach 21°C, you can set the heating to come on half an hour before you arrive home from work or get out of bed.

If this sounds a little too complicated, you may choose to install a more sophisticated thermostat like Nu-Heat’s neoStat. Many modern stats like the neo now come with self-learning functions and are able to automatically adjust when your heating switches on throughout the year for optimum performance.

Does it really matter where my thermostat is located?

Yes, definitely. Room thermostats should be placed in a location where they can receive a free flow of air from the room to read an accurate temperature. It’s important that they are not blocked by items such as curtains, pictures, or furniture. You should also make sure that they are not near any additional heat sources, like a log burner, or draughts.

Do I need to update or replace my heating controls?

At a bare minimum, a heating system should have a boiler thermostat, programmer/timer, and room thermostats (or thermostatic radiator valves with radiators). Providing you have all of these items installed it’s generally just a case of understanding how to effectively use them.

If your existing controls are over 14 years old it may pay to upgrade them. Newer, more precise controls could well offer greater savings and comfort levels.

What is the most efficient way to control my underfloor heating?

Warm water underfloor heating is highly efficient and you can improve this efficiency even further by making sure you are controlling the system in the best possible way.

There are two main types of underfloor heating and they are controlled in very different ways:

Screed underfloor heating

In a screed system, the heating tube is embedded beneath a thick layer of screed. It will have a high thermal mass, so you can expect it to take some time to warm. Because of this, screed underfloor heating should be turned on around an hour earlier than an equivalent radiator system. A screed underfloor heating system will also hold heat well, meaning that longer “off” periods are possible.

For an efficient system and quick response times, set your programmable room thermostats to 16°C in “off” periods. This will result in a quicker warm up time as the heating system needs to supply less energy.

Low profile and retrofit systems

Retrofit underfloor heating systems, like LoPro®, or solutions where the heating tube is close to the floor surface will heat up quicker than a traditional screed system.

If you have a low profile system with good heat outputs you can control your underfloor heating in the same way that you would a radiator system.

Questions?

Call us on 01404 549770.

Top tips for heating your kitchen

Of all the rooms in your home, the design of your kitchen is perhaps the most crucial to get right. In addition to choosing fixtures and fittings that reflect your taste and suit how you will use the room, it is also important to install an efficient heating system to create a warm and cosy space.

LoProMax being installed in a kitchen

LoPro™Max underfloor heating being installed in a kitchen

Warm water underfloor heating (UFH) is an invisible heating system that is ideal for kitchens where wall space is often at a premium, particularly if you have bi-fold doors.

UFH works best when the interior design is reflected in the UFH design – read our top tips for getting the most from UFH in your kitchen.

Consider your kitchen units

Good UFH design will take into account the position of your fixed and portable kitchen units.

Warm water UFH works by pumping a controlled flow of warm water through tubing embedded in the floor, warming the surface of the floor above it. This emits an even, gentle heat into the room. Anything that is directly above the embedded tubing – including your kitchen units – will be warmed by the UFH. This doesn’t cause a problem if you are not storing food in your kitchen units, and a tube layout that runs around fixed units (rather than under them) will ensure that the temperature of designated food storage areas is not affected.

However, if you have portable units and islands, or are considering changing the layout of your kitchen in the future, it is best to run the UFH tubing across the whole floor. This avoids the risk of resulting cold spots where your units used to be. The base of your kitchen units can easily be insulated to ensure that their contents are not warmed.

Choose compatible floor coverings

Hard floor coverings such as tiles and engineered timber are a stylish and practical choice in kitchen areas, but they can feel cold underfoot if they are not paired with a suitable heating system. UFH delivers an efficient, even heat across the entire floor, and is compatible with a wide range of floor coverings, including engineered timber, tiles, vinyl, laminate and polished concrete. A floor temperature sensor can limit the heat output from the floor to protect sensitive floor coverings.

Renovation projects

If you are planning to retrofit UFH into your existing kitchen, you’ll be pleased to hear that there is no need to dig up your floor! UFH can be fitted directly on top of an existing floor to minimise disruption to your fixtures and fittings.
Make sure you consider the full height build-up, including any structural decks that may need to be laid over the UFH before your floor coverings can be fitted. Nu-Heat’s LoPro™10 UFH adds just 15mm height build-up and floor coverings can be laid directly on top.

Whether you are extending, renovating or building from scratch, contact us on 01404 549770 to discuss the best UFH solution for your property.

» Find out more about underfloor heating on our website.

Expansion joints & underfloor heating

When the screed over an underfloor heating system dries, you can expect it to expand and contract with the changes in temperature. In order to protect the floor, and prevent it from cracking, expansion joints should be fitted during installation.

Expansion joints UFH

What are they?

An expansion joint can be easily made out of Nu-Heat’s edge insulation or any other flexible material, cutting holes around the tube position.

The purpose of an expansion joint is to allow movement to happen within the screed floor, releasing any stress build up to avoid cracking.

When should I use expansion joints?

For both liquid anhydrite and sand and cement screeds, expansion joints should be placed in high stress areas – these are where large areas are in contact with smaller ones e.g. in L or T shaped rooms. Expansion strips should also be used where UFH tube passes through doorways.

In sand and cement screed floors, expansion joints should be fitted when the surface area of the screed is great than 40m² or within any single length of screed greater than 8m.

What is expansion sleeving?

Expansion sleeving also prevents any stresses from building up in the tube to avoid damage. It should be placed around any piece of UFH tube that runs through an expansion joint (300mm either side).

Download our Screed Floors Information Sheet for more info.

Underfloor heating options for first floors

Did you know that it’s pretty simple to install warm water underfloor heating (UFH) on both ground and first floors?

Aside from the fact that UFH maximises available floor space and is a safer option for children’s bedrooms than radiators, installing UFH on both the ground and first floors will improve the overall efficiency of the heating system – particularly where a heat pump has been specified. You can also opt for a solution that offers acoustic benefits, reducing airborne and impact noise transmission.

Upper floors

What to look for

For a straightforward and quick installation, keeping costs down, it is important to choose the right system for the job.

Ideally, a good first floor UFH solution should be lightweight and offer:

  • No, or little height build-up, either being concealed in the floor deck or a low profile system that is laid on top of the deck
  • A flexible installation, giving you the option to either install from below after the floor deck has been laid, or over joists before the deck is down
  • A simple and safe installation

 

The 3 most popular first floor UFH systems

There are several first floor UFH systems to choose from on the market and these can be broken down into three main categories:

1. Metal heat transfer plates

Metal heat transfer plates, like Nu-Heat’s patented ClippaPlate® system, are placed over or between the floor joists to hold the UFH tube. Whilst there are a few different systems of this type on the market, they can vary considerably in the way they are installed and the quality of material.

Clippaplate over and between joists

A good system in this category will give you the choice of either working from above, before the floor deck is fitted, or below, before the ceiling is fitted – either way there should be absolutely no added height build-up. The benefit of installing the UFH from below once the upper floor deck has been laid is that it is quicker and safer and also enables other trades to continue with work upstairs – everybody wins.

It is important to choose a strong metal plate system that will hold the UFH tube flush against the floor deck – this helps to give an effective heat transfer. If the metal plates are too thin they could sag or bow over time, meaning that the UFH will have to heat an air void, which can impact the response times drastically.

2. Low profile pre-routed gypsum boards

LoPro®10 is an example of a retrofit UFH system that is also regularly specified in new build projects. This is a popular option when the floor joist structure can make installing UFH between joists impractical or the decision to include UFH is made later in the build schedule. This solution offers a good acoustic performance, helping to reduce airborne and impact noise transmission to the rooms below.

LoPro10 for upper floors

Most systems of this type are easy to install and are simply laid over the floor deck. The gypsum conducts heat well, giving an even heat output and quick response times. The overall height build up will be around 15mm and floor finishes can be fitted directly over the panels

3. Insulation and plates between joists

Another option uses pre-routed polystyrene panels that are installed between the floor joists before the deck is laid. Supported on a plywood base, the panels are installed flush with the top of the joists and incorporate heat diffuser plates to spread the heat evenly across the floor.

Although this method of UFH provides good heat output, the labour time to install the product can be prohibitive for new builds so tends to be best suited to retrofit installations where floor height build up is not possible.

Helping you to choose the right system

Thinking of installing UFH on a first floor? We are happy to talk you through the most suitable system for your project. You can speak to one of our UFH experts by calling 01404 549770.