Is Underfloor Heating Safe & Efficient?

Image of floor heating mats

If you’ve ever dealt with the maintenance and issues of an outdated whole-house heating system, you’ve probably considered other options. Heat systems with boilers and ductwork tend to be inefficient, and unless your house is completely sealed against the elements, it can cost a fortune to keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Eventually, you’re losing valuable warm air powered by electricity or gas – things YOU pay for.

Mechanisms break down, mechanical operations are noisy, ducts require maintenance and can provide the perfect airborne pathways for allergens and dust. If you’ve done your research in an attempt to fix these issues or avoid them altogether, underfloor heating systems most likely flashed up on your radar as a prime candidate.

What is Underfloor Heating?

Underfloor heating or radiant floor heat is a system designed to heat more uniformly and efficiently. Mats containing electric wiring are installed beneath the floor and warm the home with radiant heat. This makes the need for hot, blowing air obsolete and instead gently heats the room from the floor up, providing a more even temperature at a lower heat setting.

Effective and convenient as a whole-house heating option, underfloor heating purports to be not only cheaper and better, but safer. Let’s take a look at why this is actually a viable claim, and why underfloor heating could be the perfect answer in your quest for a cheaper, safer, more efficient heat source.

Is Underfloor Heating Efficient?

Yes, actually. There are several aspects that make underfloor heating more efficient than the standard whole-house heating system. And while the initial installation cost and process might seem like a hassle, you’ll actually be saving yourself money in the long run.

For starters, forced air furnaces operate by circulating air around the entire room, a process that requires these systems to run longer to achieve the ideal temperature. With an air circulation heating source, you’re inevitably heating each and every room from the top down, which creates drafts and uncomfortable pockets of cool air. It’s hard to save money or even argue efficiency when you’re constantly having to run your heating system — and pay for it, too. Traditional heat system sources, like radiators, are required to reach minimum temperatures of at least 149 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep the room consistently comfortable. Radiant or underfloor heat, however, only needs to reach 84 degrees, consuming about 15 percent less energy.

Image of Nuheat floor heating system

Nuheat floor mats are an efficient alternative to other heating systems, since heat rises from the ground up.

Due to more diverse and updated thermostats, most radiant or underfloor heating systems allow greater customization of settings that you have adjusted to kick in automatically due to a built in timer, which allows for even more efficiency. On some models, you’ll be able to set a lower-temperature “Sleep” mode, which allows you to reduce the amount of energy used and heat output overnight to avoid paying for heat you might not necessarily need. With a standard central heating, the thermostat is not as customizable and requires either being set at a more awkward range of temperatures that makes it difficult to fine-tune air temperature. This also causes the system to run all night, using lots of excess energy.

Underfloor heat is a much more consistent and reliable heat source. Due to their design, underfloor heating mats distribute heat throughout the entire floor — heating the house from the floor UP. This means you and your family are surrounded by warm air at a lower temperature, which requires less energy being used.

For radiant-type heating, efficiency also has to do with house size. If your home is large with many rooms and high ceilings, it might actually be more efficient for you to stick with a forced heat system. Radiant floor heating is generally most efficient for medium to small homes that are well-insulated and have lower ceilings. Your efficiency rating climbs even higher if your house is well-insulated and the radiant heating system is well-designed.

Radiant floor heating systems are also efficient in the space department — you’ll have more surface area on your floor and walls, which gives you more design freedom.

Is Underfloor Heating Safe?

Image of Nuheat floor mat installation.

To enhance safety, make sure your underfloor heating system is installed with a low voltage connection.

Safety is also important when it comes to your home’s heat source. And while traditional radiator-generated heat and forced air systems aren’t particularly dangerous, radiant underfloor heating is indeed safer for a number of reasons.

Just going by cosmetic factor alone, underfloor heating doesn’t exist physically anywhere in your home outside the mats in the floor and the thermostat on the wall — no sharp corners to bump into, no hot external surfaces for kids to lean against, and there’s no need to relight a pilot light if your system is having issues.

Another reason that underfloor heating could be termed safer is the fact that because of the lack of forced air sources, the air quality is much better and consistently cleaner. There are no allergens, dust, or pollen blowing about your house, and this limits irritation within the home for those with allergies.

If safety is your main concern with an electric floor heating system, note that there isn’t a problem with high voltage connections, as underfloor heat setups are connected to a ground fault circuit interrupter that trips the breaker in the event of any system failures and prevents electric shock.

To keep your system functioning as it should, check electric connections periodically. Also make sure you’re not experiencing any faults in your line.

Radiant Floor Heat: A Better Alternative

Image of Nuheat Floor Heating Mats

Nuheat radiant floor heating mats can be easily installed on your own.

Cleaner air. Simple to use. Better, more natural-feeling heat. Higher energy efficiency ratings. These are all reasons that underfloor heating systems are a great solution for anyone who wants to lower their electric bills in the winter or is tired of dealing with standard forced air systems. The initial underfloor heating system installation process and price might seem like a hassle, but it can actually save you money in the long run. Browse our radiant underfloor heating systems to discover a better, more efficient heating system.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert.

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