There are some interesting things that are unique to New Zealand – the Pohutukawa tree, the haka, pineapple lumps, our fascination with jumping off bridges secured only by cord tied around our ankles. But one thing identifies us as Kiwis from an early age – our habit of kicking off our shoes and going barefoot whenever and wherever possible.
So, we know how luxurious it is to walk into a room with underfloor heating. Someone described it to us as “a nice warm little hug for my feet when I’m getting ready or making my morning coffee”.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. But all too often people think heated flooring is expensive or extravagant and don’t consider it as an option when they’re building or renovating. At Regency Plumbing, we encourage customers to consider it when looking at ways to heat a house in Auckland.
What exactly is underfloor heating?
There are two main types of underfloor heating, and they both work by generating heat (by either water or electricity) through a system that lies beneath the flooring to distribute heat to the room. The emphasis here is on the use of underfloor heating to heat a room, not just the floor. It’s not just a treat for your feet – it’s actually an efficient way to heat a room from the bottom up. The added benefit is that as you walk on it or sit with your feet resting on a heated floor, you instantly start to warm up and stay warm. (If you’ve ever been in a snowy climate, you know that your body never fully heats up until your feet warm up.)
“Wet” or hot water based underfloor heating
The technical name for this system is a hydronic radiant floor heating system. Simply put, this type of underfloor heating involves a warm supply of water heated by a gas boiler or heat pump which is then circulated by a small pump through plastic pipes installed within the concrete slab. The pipes, embedded in the floor, carry heated water that conducts warmth to the surface of the floor where it then pushes heat energy to the room above. It is a brilliant system which gives even heat across the entire house. The wider an area where it’s used, the wider the area heated (unlike space heaters or oil column heaters that will generally only heat a space area around the heater itself).
“Dry” or electric underfloor heating
Using electricity, wires or heating cables installed beneath the flooring heat up, warming the floor and the room. This method of floor heating, while cheaper to install, can be considerably more expensive to run as it uses electricity rather than the option of using gas to heat the water in a wet or pipe system.
Regency Plumbing are qualified experts in installing water based underfloor heating, and provide this information on electric systems as a point of reference and comparison. With our experience in Auckland home renovations over the past 20 years, we’ve seen enough flooring and heating projects to be able to give you great advice in this area.
Is underfloor heating for existing homes or only for new builds?
The amount of work involved in retro fitting underfloor heating into an existing house depends on the existing flooring, but it is possible. We’ll get builders involved who will remove the existing flooring and together we’ll put down new surface layers and the pipes before your new flooring surface is installed. If you’re taking on other building works or renovations, it’s definitely worth looking into underfloor heating.
If you’re building a new home with a concrete slab, underfloor heating is the way to go. It is important to plan for it ahead of time, though, as it’s fitted into the slab early on. And yes, underflooring heating definitely can be used if you have timber flooring. In fact, timber safely conducts and holds the heat produced, and radiates the warmth into the room. It has both an aesthetic and practical effect.
Can underfloor heating be used in any room?
If you are building a new home, we highly recommend installing underfloor heating in every room. In many cases it can be more cost-effective than having multiple heating systems throughout the house. It creates a gentle and even distribution of heat throughout your home, and can be moderated by the use of temperature controls, and zone timers, allowing you to set different rooms to turn on at different times.
If you need advice about underfloor heating, we’d be delighted to help you. One thing for sure is you will never be disappointed with underfloor heating.