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Electric and Under Tile Underfloor Heating Systems: Is it Right for Queenstown Homes?


For those who spend a lot of time at home, including families with young children, those who work from home, and retirees, healthy central heating should be high on your list of priorities when building. Underfloor heating is the best form of central heating for radiant heat evenly distributed throughout your home without taking up living or wall space. It’s also often the best value, especially for those who are used to kicking off your shoes off at the door.

A well-heated home is the ultimate luxury in Queenstown

If you’ve ever shaken the slush off your boots, stepped onto a heated floor and felt your body instinctively relax as the comforting tingle of warmth travels up from your toes, you’ll be nodding your head. You never want to spend another winter in a house where you can see your breath in the morning, and you’re confined to a couple of rooms because that’s all you can afford to heat. The good news is, these days when installed thoughtfully, underfloor heating doesn’t have to be synonymous with astronomical heating bills.

Although underfloor heating does take longer than a heat pump or a wood burner to heat up a cold room, built-in thermostats make it easy to maintain an even temperature throughout your home. Many systems allow you to program your preferred temperatures for night/day, weekday/weekend and for various rooms or zones. Since underfloor heating is fully concealed within the floor and hidden from view, you don’t have to plan your furniture around awkward radiators or bulky surface-mounted heat pumps. It’s also completely silent.

Underfloor heating is the ideal source of heat for allergy sufferers

If you have issues with dust mites, you’ll be pleased to discover dust mites don't like the warm floor temperature, so they don’t tend to stick around. Underfloor is the most comfortable, efficient, and healthy form of central heating because there is no air (and consequently dust and pollen) being blown around. In fact, seasonal allergy sufferers often notice a marked improvement, especially in conjunction with hard floors rather than carpet and a heat recovery ventilation system (HRV).

Although underfloor heating is not compatible with laminate and laminated wooden floors, it works well under almost all other types of flooring, including carpet and solid wood floors. You must turn the floor up to maximum heat beneath a solid wood floor for the first 3 to 4 days. Warping can occur on wood floors when an inexperienced installer hasn’t allowed enough time for the floor to cure correctly.

There are three main ways to achieve toasty warm feet in winter depending on your situation. You can run heating wires between your slab and your flooring and power the heating element via electricity for electric or under tile heating. For new builds, you also have the option of running pipes in the foundation and pumping heated water through that slab, known as hydronic underfloor heating.

Electric underfloor heating has a lower setup but higher running costs

Electric underfloor is what most people think of when they hear underfloor heating. It’s the entry-level option into underfloor heating, and the most common option for houses built more than twenty years ago. The technology has improved, but it’s still the most expensive to run. Improve efficiency by insulating well, especially your slab, so you don’t waste money heating the ground underneath your house.

Advantages of Electric underfloor heating:

  • Cheapest to install.
  • Easily retrofitted between your floorboards and the floor covering of existing homes, or installed in a new build.

Under tile heating is efficient and responsive for stone or tile flooring

If you have your heart set on stone or tile floors, under tile heating is a no brainer. As tiles and stone have high thermal conductivity and are usually thin, the heat transfers quickly from the underfloor heating wires through the tile to warm the surface of the floor efficiently. Unlike hydronic underfloor heating, you don’t have to wait for the temperature of the slab to heat up before the room feels warm.

Advantages of Under Tile heating:

  • Best type of heating for tile and stone floors. Very cost-effective when installed correctly on a well-insulated floor.
  • Can be easily fitted to the total floor area of new builds or renovations. Works equally well for small areas such as an en-suite, bathroom, or kitchen area.
  • Heat can be set to turn and off by timers.
  • Easy to operate and maintenance free.

Installation is usually done just before tiling, causing minimum disruption to your building or renovating schedule. Achieve maximum effectiveness by pairing it with insulation boards, which act as an excellent waterproofing agent and also reduce echoes in larger tiled areas and dampen footfall noise. 

This was Part 3 of Alpine Projects' Smarter Home Heating for Queenstown Series. Continue to Part 4: Hydronic Underfloor Heating