With the rising cost of gas and electricity hitting the headlines once again, and many suppliers increasing customers’ energy tariffs, installers need to ensure they are equipped to advise their customers on the most energy and cost efficient heating solutions. Uponor applications manager, Neil Young believes this is where underfloor heating, combined with air source heat pumps can offer an effective holistic solution.
Underfloor heating offers a radiant heat that occupies the entire floor surface area, which in itself offers several benefits.
First of all, it results in a healthy environment. Hardly raising any dust, underfloor heating is perfect for people suffering from allergies. Secondly, the gentle radiant heat acts directly on the body without the process of having to heat the air in the room first. This means that thermal heat can be achieved at lower temperatures compared to more concentrated heat sources such as radiators.
The even floor surface temperature ensures a comfortable energy spread meaning the room temperature can be set to up to 2 degrees Celsius lower than radiators. This can equate to more than 12 per cent in energy savings.
Additional energy savings are offered through the lower water temperature that are required to efficiently heat a home using an underfloor heating system compared to a complete radiator installation. This lower operating temperature means underfloor heating systems are particularly suited to installations where an air source heat pump is the primary heat source.
The market for heat pumps is growing at a staggering rate with estimated sales growing from 8,000 units in 2011 to 100,000 in 2020. By 2050 there will be more than 20 million air source heat pumps in the UK.
The popularity of air source heat pumps is due to their most attractive benefit, which is that they are a renewable energy source. Taking thermal energy from the outside air, heat pumps convert the energy to heat to produce hot water for heating systems and domestic hot water in the home.
The result is a low carbon energy source and a low cost hot water generator – perfect for combining with efficient underfloor heating systems.
Aesthetically, underfloor heating and air source heat pump combinations are also attractive. As the heat source is underneath the floor covering there is no visible heat emitter. Internal wall space is not taken up by radiators and complete freedom is offered when considering room layouts and interior design.
Combined underfloor heating and air source heat pump systems are particularly suited to new build properties, self build project or renovations. They can be retro fitted to existing properties with some level of disruption as floors will need to be taken up or the system installed on top of the existing floor which will result in the finished floor being raised.
But whilst the benefits seem to be a ‘no-brainer’ there are a number of things to consider when specifying underfloor heating and air source heat pumps. Most importantly, it must be a system solution. It is advisable to choose a supply solution where both the heat pump manufacturer and underfloor heating supplier have a proven track record and can demonstrate both knowledge and experience of the system they are specifying working together.
There must be one design strategy and product selection based on the total system performance.
For more information about Uponor’s family of plumbing and climate control solutions, click on www.uponor.co.uk
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