Healthier home heating
From air circulation to asthma and the boiler ban to burns, there's a compelling case for specifying underfloor heating to achieve healthier homes in the future. WMS Managing Director, Ashley Cooper explores the opportunity.
Wellbeing is a word we're starting to hear more and more. No longer is it something which is restricted to the health or medical sector - it's becoming something we consider in our everyday lives, which means he houses we live in and buildings we work in need to step up to the mark too. This is good news for the underfloor heating (UFH) sector because it's one of the healthiest and safest ways to heat a building.
UFH works by circulating warm water through a series of continuous loops that are fitter under a floor, creating a large radiant surface that heats a room from the floor upwards. This radiant form of heating is much more comfortable than the convected alternative provided by radiators, which draws cold air across the floor before heating it and then convects the warm air upwards towards the ceiling. Those are the basic physics and if you've been in a room that has UFH installed, you'll know how comfortable it feels - but why is this method of heating so much better for us?
I'll start by talking about asthma. In the UK each day, on average, one in eight people receive treatment for this respiratory condition. Convection heating systems exacerbate this by encouraging the movement of dust and dust mites in the air, but because UFH users radiant heat, this movement is reduced, providing a much healthier environment.
Next, there's home safety. Each year, more than 3,750 under-fives are admitted to the hospital because of burns and scalds. Most of these occur in the home and are highly preventable. Of course, radiator burns only account for a proportion of this, but if you can help prevent this from happening through your own specifications, then why wouldn't you?
Thermostatic radiator valves on modern heating systems allow for more control, but forgetting tot urn temperatures down, inquisitive little hands and simply our desire to have a warm comfortable home means that these scalding hot metal units cause injury. With UFH however, the warmth is there without danger.
My third point is cleanliness. Convection heaters are a magnet for dust and germs. They're difficult to clean and who honestly dusts behind them, underneath them or between the panels regularly? Even if you don't suffer from asthma, the amount of dirt which can build up just isn't healthy for us to be breathing in every day.
Then, there's the environmental impact. Because UFH covers a greater surface area than radiators, it can run at lower temperatures; 45°C rather than 80°C. This means the demand underfloor heating places on energy sources is significantly less, making them an ideal heating system for use with heat pumps and solar panels - a key consideration for housebuilders in the run-up to the 2025 gas boiler ban.
We appreciate that even when all the facts are laid bare, it can still be a leap of faith to shake up supply chains, but shouldn't this industry be about innovation?
Convection heating has been the 'norm' for some time and it has seen us move away from the cold, damp homes of the past, but the future should be about changing our way of thinking again. We should be looking for better, healthier ways to build our homes, schools, and places of work - and UFH is staring us in the face as a solution.