What makes an efficient heating system?

Homeowners are telling us that choosing an efficient heating system is more important than ever before, with low running costs and low energy consumption being the key factors in choosing an underfloor heating system (UFH) or integrated renewables solution. With this in mind, what do you need to consider to make a truly efficient heating system?

Heating system

System design is essential

A good design and supply company will always specify and design an efficient and bespoke system that is well suited to the property and the homeowner’s lifestyle. For every system the bespoke design should be based on heat loss calculations for each individual room (one room could have three external walls, meaning a higher heat loss than another with just one external wall), and early recommendations may be made to improve the system’s efficiency – so you can be confident that the final design will result in a system that will perform. Find out more about what makes a good UFH system design in this blog post.

UFH is an efficient solution

Because the emitting area for UFH is large, sufficient warmth is provided across the whole floor surface to heat the room effectively. And, because UFH uses far lower water temperatures than a radiator system, the heat source doesn’t have to work as hard to reach higher temperatures and makes the most of a boiler’s condensing mode, so it operates much more efficiently, meaning lower annual running costs.

UFH works with gas, oil and LPG boilers as well as ground and air source heat pumps. The lower flow temperatures required for UFH make it an ideal partner for heat pumps, which provide optimum efficiency at low temperatures, therefore reducing the cost of heating. Insulation is extremely important when installing a heat pump – the more insulation, the less heat that is lost.

When paired with a modern condensing boiler, UFH is approximately 25% more efficient than radiators.

Flexible control

Controlling a heating system remotely is now an option offering great flexibility as well as reduced running costs. Remote access to heating controls ensures that rooms are heated only when needed.

Thermostats can be installed with UFH in each room, meaning individual room temperatures can be independently controlled from one single Smart Control – or even a smartphone. The flexibility to control room temperatures separately enables ‘fine tuning’, giving perfect comfort with improved system controllability.

You can find out more about the control options for UFH on our thermostats page.

A closer look at an ErP label

Newly introduced energy labelling and ErP

The introduction of the Energy Related Products Directive, or ErP, means that all new heating systems will now come with a product and package label to give a clear rating of their energy efficiency. Its purpose is to make the efficiency of heating products easier to compare, helping homeowners and installers to make informed and eco-friendly decisions.

Nu-Heat provides system package labels for all of our heat pump and solar systems. You will see the product and system fiche information as well as the energy label for the package in every quote. The label will also be printed and included in the handover pack with the customer user guides.

If you are installing our UFH in a project, the energy label for the heating package will be calculated and provided by the installer – this is because they have all of the relevant information on the heat source, thermostats and any other components. It’s simple for an installer to calculate and generate this label themselves and we have produced all of the required forms and an instructional video, available on our ErP resources page.

Careful integration means better system efficiency for the end user

The importance of system design, installation and commissioning support should not be underestimated when choosing an UFH system or integrated renewables solution – they provide the installer and homeowner with peace of mind that the system is being handled by experts and will perform as expected.

Our team will be happy to discuss or advise on an efficient UFH & renewables heating system for any upcoming projects. Call us on 01404 549770, 8am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Underfloor heating and floor coverings

Did you know that underfloor heating (UFH) can be paired with a wide range of floor coverings, including vinyls and even carpet?

In this blog post we take a look at the most popular floor coverings and their compatibility with UFH, any considerations or limitations and also which are the best partner for UFH, offering a good heat transfer.

LoProMax in kitchen

The best choice – Stone and ceramic

The best floor coverings for use with underfloor heating are hard surfaces such as stone and ceramic tiles as they have the least resistance and transfer heat effectively.

Stone and ceramic are the most thermally conductive of all floor coverings allowing the energy from the UFH heating tube to transfer quickly to the surface of the stone/tile.

Increasing the thickness of the tile will have little effect on the heat output, but it will slightly increase the heat up time.

With stone and ceramic tiles it is always advisable to use a de-coupling membrane and flexible adhesive to reduce the potential for any hairline expansion cracks.

  • Polished screed – By its nature, screed is very conductive and although unusual, it is well suited for use with under floor heating.
  • Limestone – Of all stone floor coverings, limestone requires the most care and attention during installation.
  • Slate – An extremely conductive natural finish, ideal for use with underfloor heating
  • Marble – An excellent conductor available in varying thickness

 

Timber

If the desired look includes a wood floor, engineered timber is the best option for use with underfloor heating, as its structural stability allows it to perform well with fluctuating temperatures.

Solid hardwoods and soft woods also transfer heat well but care should be taken when specifying the board width and thickness, as these can warp under temperature.

  • Engineered timber – A more stable option than solid timber, due to being cross-laminated, its moisture content is less critical. It can be laid directly over the underfloor heating as a ‘floating floor’ or nailed into battens or joists. Unless installed over a screeded slab, engineered boards of less than 20mm thickness should be supported and fixed to an additional decking material to lend suitable structural support.
  • Solid hardwood – It is always best to use a kiln-dried timber with minimum moisture content, store it in a dry place before installation and fit a floor temperature sensor to reduce the chance of the timber overheating.
  • Soft woods – Most soft woods can be used with underfloor heating but it is not recommended for use with any high heat output systems as it can cause them to warp under temperature. Always fit a floor temperature sensor.
  • Parquet – Also suitable for use with underfloor heating, these floor blocks should be continuously glued onto the screed or timber deck for good heat transfer. Again, always fit a floor temperature sensor.

 

LoProMax in bedroom

Laminates and vinyl

Many homeowners are unsure whether they can use a laminate or vinyl with underfloor heating but this type of floor covering actually performs very well.

It’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommended maximum floor surface temperature to ensure that the covering is suitable for use with underfloor heating. Most manufacturers state 27°C, which is more than adequate in most situations. For any sensitive floor coverings, or where a system with a high heat output is being installed, a floor temperature sensor should be fitted to limit the heat output from the floor.

  • Vinyl – Vinyl works well with underfloor heating as the heat can easily permeate the slim layer. However, as most vinyls should not be heated to above 26°C, the underfloor heating should be restricted. Because of this, vinyls are not suitable for any rooms with high heat losses, like a conservatory, as it would not be able to sufficiently heat the room when restricted.
  • Amtico – A practical and highly versatile flooring, Amtico is a popular choice of floor covering. To avoid any discolouration or damage, the floor temperature should be limited to 27°C.

 

Carpet

Carpet is still a popular floor covering, especially in bedrooms. Carpet and underlay with a combined tog value of up to 2.5 can be used effectively with underfloor heating, anything thicker than this will act as an insulator and stop sufficient heat reaching the room.

Don’t forget the design

The choice of floor covering should be taken into account before you choose an UFH system. Nu-Heat will be happy to advise on the suitability of any floor coverings and will also consider this in the design, making sure that floor temperature sensors are provided for particular rooms and that the heat outputs are sufficient in others.

For more information on floor coverings and their compatibility with UFH, visit www.nu-heat.co.uk/floorcoverings or call us on 01404 549770.

NEW AcoustiPanel®14
Combined Knauf acoustic floor deck solution with integrated Nu-Heat warm water underfloor heating.

This new acoustic solution from Nu-Heat, produced in partnership with Knauf, comprises a pre-routed gypsum board over a high performance IsoRubber-UFH-NH base, into which Nu-Heat’s 14mm tube is neatly installed.

The combination of tongue and groove panels and a self-levelling skim offer high thermal conductivity allowing a quick transfer of heat into the room and the creation of an extremely stable, monolithic floor finish.

When installed within an acoustic floor cassette, AcoustiPanel®14 exceeds Part E making the solution suitable for new build and renovation apartments, where an efficient and discreet underfloor heating system is required as part of an acoustically robust system that is simple to install.

AcoustiPanel14 UFH

This tailor-made acoustic UFH system offers:

  • Fast heat transfer combined with high performance heat output of up to 96W/m2
  • A low profile UFH solution with outstanding acoustic properties exceeding Part E
  • Minimal height build-up at just 31mm, saving typically 69mm compared to typical acoustic batten solutions
  • A low weight solution compared to liquid screed or a typical sand & cement screed UFH system
  • Ultra-low deflection, monolithic ‘fit and finished’ floor section over IsoRubber-UFH-NH base ideal for large format tiles and luxury floor finishes
  • A sustainable solution, with the gypsum board being made up of a minimum of 60% recycled product and categorised under Knauf Environmental Product Declarations – according to ISO 14025
  • IsoRubber-UFH-NH made with a recycled content in excess of 90% waste rubber, a Global Warming Potential of Zero and an Ozone Depletion Potential of Zero

A straightforward installation

  • Installed directly over a structural working deck – either suspended timber or concrete/screed
  • Fully tailored designs with 6 panel options for optimal heating layouts and pipework back to manifolds
  • Self-levelling skim dries overnight, resulting in reduced site programme
  • Single manifold, up to 160m – for quick installation, using less material
  • Complete mechanical & electrical installation design and AcoustiPanel® layout drawings, provided by Nu-Heat
  • Floor finishes can be fitted after just 72 hours

Find out more about AcoustiPanel®14 at www.nu-heat.co.uk/ap14

Timber Expo 2015

Timber Expo is the most important timber event on the UK construction calendar and is brimming with the latest products, innovations and developments across the timber sector. It runs from Tuesday 6th – Thursday 8th October 2015 at the NEC in Birmingham.

Our experts will be on stand T3/435 to give you advice and guidance on integrating underfloor heating, including new AcoustiPanel®14 into your project.

Get your free tickets to Timber Expo here.

Underfloor heating or radiators? Choosing the right solution

Arguably the two main contenders when deciding on a heating system for a property, underfloor heating (UFH) and radiators each offer their own benefits. Both perform well and can work in a wide range of projects, from new builds to renovations.

In the past, radiators have always been the obvious choice for heating a home, as it’s what everyone knows, but UFH is now so versatile it can be installed – and enjoyed – in virtually any property.

Underfloor heating in renovation

Choosing UFH

Open plan living

An obvious benefit of UFH is the freedom from having radiators hung on the wall, which can make it frustratingly difficult to place furniture. UFH has virtually no visual impact on a space – manifolds can be hidden and thermostats operated by remote sensor if required. Even with a standard dial thermostat, only one is required in each zone, which is far less intrusive than at least one radiator in every room. It’s for these reasons that UFH is particularly well suited to open plan living.

Designing a tailored solution

Aside from freeing up space and the unrivalled comfort, one of the main benefits of UFH is the system design that is tailored to the homeowner’s needs. Every system Nu-Heat supplies is carefully designed taking heat loss calculations, room sizes, floor coverings and how rooms are used day-to-day into consideration.

There’s no guesswork with UFH – everything is calculated for you, so you know that the system will perform.

Simple to install

Another big pro for UFH is that it really is simple to install with a clear, comprehensive instruction manual – some homeowners even lay the tube themselves and leave the plumber to pressure test and commission the system.

UFH also requires less supply pipework from the boiler than a radiator system, as you only need to run a flow and return to the manifold/s, rather than to the whole radiator system, making for an easier installation.

Over 60 different solutions

With over 60 different floor constructions available, UFH is a very flexible solution that can be installed in more or less any type of property, either throughout the whole house, on just one floor level or in a single room.

Installing UFH in a new build is straightforward and it’s also very cost-effective in this scenario. A system designed and supplied for a new build property can certainly compete with radiators on affordability.

New retrofit systems that are laid over an existing floor make UFH an exciting option for renovation projects. They can be installed very quickly and cause minimal disruption to existing fixtures and fittings. You can even opt for wireless thermostats to avoid chasing wires up walls.

UFH in completed renovation

Choosing radiators

The biggest advantage for radiators is that, at the moment, they are the norm. Every installer is familiar with how a radiator system is installed and every homeowner knows what to expect when it comes to performance.

Radiators work, and will continue to work, in many properties. However, one of the downsides is that they are not suitable for open plan living. In a large open plan kitchen-dining area, there could be bi-fold doors, kitchen units and appliances, leaving just a small section of wall space for a radiator. In this case, it’s unlikely that the radiator would be able to sufficiently heat the room – there just isn’t enough wall space for the size of radiator that would be needed. With more homeowners opting for open plan living, this is a problem.

Standard radiators are also at a disadvantage when it comes to their compatibility with renewable heat sources, such as heat pumps. For a radiator to heat a room, using the lower flow temperatures of a heat pump, it would have to be oversized, taking more wall space. In this type of scenario, UFH will always come out on top.

The most suitable system for the project

Both UFH and radiators can work in the majority of projects, and it is perfectly possible to mix the two.

UFH and radiators

New build

UFH is simple to install in a new build as it can be built into the fabric of the building. Open plan living is often a key feature in new build design, so again, UFH is likely to be a more desirable solution in this scenario.

Radiators are also suitable for new build properties. A popular solution is often to install UFH on the ground floor and choose radiators for upstairs. Depending on the schedule, it’s worth noting that the UFH can be installed early on but often radiators are not installed until after the basic decorating has been completed.

Renovation

Choosing between UFH and radiators in an existing building depends on the scale of the renovation. If the boiler is being upgraded along with the whole heating system, then it’s worth considering a retrofit UFH system, such as one of the LoPro™ solutions that are quickly and easily laid on top of the existing floor.

If there are plans to further extend the property in the near future and it currently has radiators, there is the choice of sticking with radiators or installing and future-proofing UFH (allowing for extra ports on the manifold). It’s also possible to create a hybrid system, with radiators in some areas and UFH in new extensions or main living areas.

For either system, the addition of insulation in an older building is essential.

Single area (extension or kitchen refurb)

When adding a new extension, a single pack of screed UFH is affordable, simple to install and offers considerably more benefits than a radiator system.

When it comes to a renovation of a single room, it depends on how it will be used. If the property already has radiators throughout, and the new room will be a bedroom, a radiator is likely to be the cheaper and easier option for most. Kitchen and living space renovations would be more suited to UFH, freeing up wall space and offering a touch of luxury, especially if tiles or wood flooring will be used.

To find out which UFH solution is most suitable for your project, visit our website or contact us on 01404 540650.