Since mid-2021, the UK has faced fluctuating energy costs.
Due to unstable post-pandemic economies and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, wholesale energy prices across Europe have hit unprecedented highs – which in turn significantly increased average annual gas and electricity bills in the UK.
As a result, businesses and homeowners alike have been looking for ways to reduce their energy bills.
Here at Gaia, we understand how important it is to have a cost-effective heating system which keeps a building warm whilst helping to save on energy costs.
So, we’ve taken a look at how underfloor heating can help tackle rising energy bills for residential and commercial buildings in the UK.
Why have energy prices been rising?
The UK and the rest of Europe have been in an ‘energy crisis.’
Political and economic instability – including the opening up of economies post-lockdown and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine – have caused severe supply disruptions, which in turn increased the cost of wholesale gas and electricity.
Prices spiked in 2022 and while we’ve seen some fall since then, costs have still not returned to their previous levels.
In fact, the price cap in the UK increased by 5% to £1,928 in the first quarter of 2024. While it is expected to fall slightly to around £1,800 for the rest of this year, it’s still around 55% higher than winter 2021/22.
According to Ofgem, the unit rate will be 29p/kWh for electricity and 7p/kWh for gas, for a typical user paying by direct debit from 1st January 2024. The average daily standing charge will be 53p/day for electricity and 30p/day for gas.
As a result of these increased energy prices, businesses and homeowners across the UK have been looking for ways to keep their energy bills down.
How can underfloor heating help?
There’s a number of ways underfloor heating can help to keep energy bills down.
But first, it’s worth understanding how underfloor heating works…
How does underfloor heating work?
Unlike traditional radiators which heat the air closest to them, underfloor heating warms the entire room by gently radiating heat from the floor upward. This creates a more even distribution of warmth – and a cosy living environment.
There are two main underfloor heating systems: wet (hydronic) systems and electric (dry) systems.
Wet (hydronic) underfloor heating features flexible pipes which are installed beneath the floor. Hot water is circulated through the pipes to warm the room. The pipes are connected to an existing boiler – or a heat pump – via a manifold which controls the temperature.
Electric (dry) underfloor heating consists of electrical heating elements – heating mats or loose lay heating cables – which are installed beneath or within flooring. When the electricity is turned on, the heating elements warm up to heat the room.
So, how do these systems help keep energy prices down?
Lower operating temperatures
Underfloor heating systems operate at lower temperatures than traditional radiators.
While a traditional boiler and radiator system may run at around 70°C, underfloor heating can run at approximately 35°C.
This lower running temperature means underfloor heating takes less time to heat up, using much less energy as a result – and therefore lower energy bills.
Higher energy efficiency
Radiator systems often warm the area closest to them, with heat eventually rising to the ceiling and leaving the lower part of the room cooler.
Underfloor heating eliminates this issue by warming the whole floor. This warmth then radiates upwards, ensuring a more uniform temperature throughout the room.
This means that more of the energy consumed by the system – and therefore paid for – is efficiently used.
Compatibility with heat pumps
The popularity of heat pumps has risen significantly in the last few years.
Air-source and ground-source heat pumps move thermal energy from an external source into a building. This warmth is then transferred to the systems within a building to provide heating and hot water.
Heat pumps have been identified as a suitable low-carbon and energy-efficient heating solution for future buildings – and pair particularly well with wet underfloor heating!
Both heat pumps and wet underfloor heating systems are known for being less carbon intensive due to their lower operating temperatures, and therefore – when used together – they consume less energy than a radiator system.
Plus, heat pumps can deliver around three to four times more heat energy than the electrical energy they use.
This low running cost and energy efficiency makes a heat pump and underfloor heating heating pairing ideal for reducing energy bills.
How can Gaia help?
Here at Gaia, we have 35 years’ experience designing, supplying and installing both wet and electric underfloor heating systems in the UK and Ireland.
Whether it’s residential or commercial, we help our clients choose the best heating solution for their project.
Our expert team are always on hand to help homeowners, architects, contractors, M&E consultants, builders and developers with their underfloor heating needs.
Get in touch today to find out more.