Designing healthier homes from the ground up - Joanna Crown talks to Housing Association Magazine on why radiant heating is the key to creating healthier and safer homes for the future
When it comes to enhancing the health and wellbeing of tenants, there are many factors to consider, including the way homes are heated in order to create a comfortable and safe environment. Here, Joanna Crown of WMS, leading supplier and installer of underfloor heating systems, offers her thoughts on why radiant heating is the key to creating healthier and safer homes for the future.
One important aspect when incorporating health and wellbeing into the design of a property is air quality, particularly to support those who suffer with allergies and asthma. Currently 5.4 million people in the UK are receiving treatment for asthma, while a staggering 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy. The number of sufferers is also on the rise, so it’s never been more important to specify solutions which reduce any possible triggers.
While soft furnishings are typically known as the main culprits for harbouring dust mites, skin cells and dander, convection heating systems are also a magnet for dust and germs which gather behind and inside the panels. Then when the convection heating system is turned on, allergy and asthma symptoms can be further exacerbated as these problematic particles are encouraged to circulate into the atmosphere. This is just one of the issues that underfloor heating can help with, as radiant heat reduces the movement of dust – making it one of the healthiest ways to heat a building. Underfloor heating circulates warm water through a series of continuous loops which are fitted under a floor, creating a large radiant surface which heats a room from the floor upwards. As such, another added health benefit is that radiant heat eliminates cold spots from a room, where mould could develop as the heat is radiating from the whole floor surface. Mould not only adds to property maintenance requirements, but also exasperates respiratory conditions too, so by nature, underfloor heating ticks all the right boxes.
Aside from tackling air quality, there is a safety benefit with underfloor heating too, as it eliminates hot pipes and radiators from the home. Every month, 590 children require admission to an NHS Burns Service following a severe burn or scald injury, and the most common place of a burn injury for children and the elderly is at home. While thermostatic radiator valves on modern heating systems allow for more control, if temperatures remain set to high levels, serious injuries can occur if children, elderly or vulnerable tenants come into contact with these scalding hot metal units. Risk of these serious accidents associated with radiators can be prevented through the specification of underfloor heating, which offers all the warmth tenants desire, without the danger of hot surfaces. In addition to creating a safe environment, from a maintenance perspective there will be no time addressing common issues with radiators.
Typically, radiators require an annual check for air in the system/bleeding and sometimes more invasive inhibitor dosing is needed, plus they may need to be fully replaced every 10-15 years. On the other hand, underfloor heating requires very little maintenance, with WMS offering a 75-year pipework warranty, making it possible for the system to outlive the life of the building itself.
From improving air quality and safety and overall comfort and reducing maintenance, there’s a compelling case for specifying underfloor heating to achieve healthier homes. Specifying underfloor heating into new or existing social housing properties, not only offers an array of benefits, but also future proofs new properties in line with the incoming Part L revisions to specify low temperature systems, making it a win win solution.