There are two types of underfloor heating: gas-powered (wet) underfloor heating and electric underfloor heating.
In wet underfloor heating systems, heat is distributed around the house via thin pipes laid under the floor. These pipes carry hot water around the home so that it can release its heat through the floor and therefore warm the rooms where the underfloor heating system is installed. The water is heated in the main boiler of the home.
In cases where the boiler supplying hot water for the household is gas powered (as is the case in most UK households) this type of heating system is known as gas underfloor heating.
An electric underfloor heating system, on the other hand, uses electric wires fitted beneath the floor to provide heat. When an electric current is passed through the wires, they become hot and that heat is transferred through the floor to the room above.
Electric underfloor heating is easier to fit than wet underfloor heating. The installation costs of an electric system are therefore lower. Gas underfloor heating systems involve a bulky network of pipes running through the house, so they can only be fitted in homes where there is sufficient space under the floor to accommodate the pipe work. Although allocating this space is not a problem in new builds, electric underfloor heating is often a more feasible option in existing properties.
However, the running costs of both systems must also be considered. Gas is generally cheaper than electricity per kilowatt of heat produced, which means that the running costs of gas underfloor heating are lower those of an electric system.
Not all homes are connected to the mains gas supply. For these households, electric underfloor heating could be an economical home heating option.
The running costs of both gas and electric underfloor heating systems can be reduced by using alternative sources of energy, such as solar panels or solar water heating systems, to supply the electricity or hot water needed for the underfloor heating system.