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Does underfloor heating contribute to sustainable living?


Energy efficient and invisibly comfortable

In new construction projects as well as in the renovation of existing housin, the focus nowadays is on comfort and low energy consumption. As a result, underfloor heating is very much in the limelight. Ideally suited in combination with Low Temperature Heating or LTV, underfloor heating contributes to a comfortable indoor climate and is also energy efficient.

(image credits: Studiovhf)

For years, underfloor heating was almost exclusively used as extra heating for stone floors. In addition to that, underfloor heating had the image of being expensive and luxury and remained limited to homes in the upper segment of the market. Because of the higher insulation values of today’s homes, there is less heating is required and the (floor) temperature can be set lower. That combined with the trend towards energy-efficient homes with the highest possible efficiency and the hankering for optimal comfort, it is undeniably a huge incentive to have underfloor heating as the main heating.

They notice this at Incognito underfloor heating Edinburgh as well. Sales Director Andrews Skirton is very positive in and has always maintained that underfloor heating as mains heating is very well feasable. The interest of consumers in underfloor heating is certainly increasing. Apart from the fact that many new construction projects are very energy efficient, shorter payback gives a big push towards sustainability. Especially the underfloor heating systems that are built with low temperature heating (LTV) and heat pumps. Also many people who want to upgrade their homes install underfloor heating and benefit simultaniously from the sleek interior design without radiators.

However there is still a brake on the growth of underfloor heating systems with renewable energy sources. The idea is the investment in underfloor heating is high and that the payback time with 10 to 11 years is very long. But that’s going to change. The delivery times will be shorter and the prices will drop. And that means lower installation cost and a shorter payback times. The stagnant housing market that we have seen during the recession pushed the renovation of existing homes. We also have a huge housing stock. Homes that no longer meet today’s insulation standards, but also not to the higher requirements that people now have for their living comfort.  


The main advantage of floor underfloor heating are the even heating of the living space and, thanks to the radiant heat. A higher comfort level can be achivede with a much lower air temperature (19 to 20 degrees) than with conventional heating. Thanks to this lower temperature there is less heat loss, the return is higher and leads to substantial energy savings.

Also aesthetically underfloor heating is an asset, because it is invisible. The sometimes very ugly radiators can are gone. Furthermore, underfloor heating causes less air-to dust displacement. This makes this way of heating healthier and more hygienic than alternative systems.

Built-in cooling

And last but certainly not least we can mention that with underfloor heating you also have the (optional) possibility to cool the House. This happens by using chilled water from, for example, a chiller, a heat pump, or with water from the deeper surface (aquifiërs).

Hot water and electricity

There are basically two ways of underfloor heating: by means of hot water and electric.
With a hot-water system the heating pipe (diameter of 16-20 mm) is run through a special control unit, the Manifold, that is connected to the existing CV or other heating source such as geothermal energy combined with a heat pump.
An alternative system is through a tube connecting it to the return water of a radiator. This is widely applied in areas where both systems are present such as in bathrooms. In new buildings the pipes are usually embedded in the concrete od the floor in the form of a spiral or meander. The advantage of the spiral form is that the supply and return always run next to each other, resulting in a more even heat distribution. 

An electric underfloor heating consists of thin mats in which the heating elements are mounted. The advantage of an electric system is that it is easy, fast and relatively inexpensive to install. On the other hand, the power consumption is higher.

The Manifold

The Manifold is, as it were, the traffic regulator and has the function to lead the hot water from the central heating boiler or other source into the heating pipes. The water remains in to circulating in the system to the extent that the thermostat has cooled, adding hot water again.

There are different types of underfloor heating manifolds on the market, but the most important is the open distributor with circulation pump and preset mixing. On the maifolf you can have multiple groups (2-12). The manifold has a mixing scheme with which the central heating system can add hot water. The different heating groups can be individually adjusted. In this way, the temperature in each room can ne set separately very accurately.

Low temperature heating

Underfloor heating is excellent in combination with low a heat exchanger or a ground source heatpump. The flow temperature will not exceed 55 degrees and the return temperature is up to 45 gaden. If connected to a geothermal heat pump, the supply temperature can be set even lower, at 30 degrees.

Cooling with a water based underfloor heating system is possible as well. That of course requires a custom installation and usually involve closed manifolds that do not mix and in combination with special thermostats. The water is usually cooled indirectly with tground water from the primary circuit of the groundsource heat pump. We call this a free cooling. It goes without saying that the energy consumption with this method of cooling is significantly lower than with air conditioning.

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