Tackling a burning issue
Depending on the nature of the development, heating specification in new build housing doesn’t always aim to raise the bar on safety standards.
However, with radiators ranking alongside hot liquids, the sun, hair straighteners and irons for common causes of burn injuries in young people and the elderly, there’s a strong argument for installing underfloor heating systems as standard across all new housing stock.
Sheldon Cooper of underfloor heating specialist WMS explains: “The new build housing market works hard to sell properties based on aspiration.Development signs promote ‘dream homes’ or ‘designed for modern family living’ – but are they? We all know the phrase ‘safe as houses’, but when one of the most common causes of burn injuries in a family home is from radiators – I can’t help wondering if house builders should be looking at ways to address this.
“It’s worrying to hear that each year, over 3,750 under-5s are admitted to hospital because of burns and scalds, most of these injuries 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 that from happening through your own specifications, then why wouldn’t you?
“Underfloor heating (UFH) is an obvious alternative to radiators, providing ‘hidden’ heat throughout a living space, which is easy and low cost to install, easy to maintain and also provides a far more even distribution of heat than radiators.
“UFH is, I’m pleased to say, installed as standard by many developers nowadays, particularly in properties costing more than £300K, but what about the rest of our new housing stock – starter homes aimed at young families for example? The need for child safety there should surely be a priority?
“Thermostatic radiators valves on modern heating systems do allow for more control, but forgetting to turn temperatures down, inquisitive little hands and simply our desire to have a warm comfortable home means that these scalding hot metal units can cause injury. With UFH however, the warmth is there without the danger.
“And the benefits of specifying UFH over radiators extends beyond the home safety angle: UFH covers a larger surface area than radiators and can therefore run at lower temperatures – at 45°C rather than 80°C.
“As a result, the demand UFH places on energy sources is significantly less, making them the ideal heating product for use with heat pumps and solar panels – a key consideration for housebuilders in the run up to the 2025 gas boiler ban. UFH is also quicker to install than radiators – saving housebuilders on construction time and budget.
“And for the homeowner, UFH is incredibly low maintenance. It’s excellent at retaining heat at a consistent temperature, so when the system is switched on, only a top up of energy is needed, making UFH between 15 and 40% cheaper to run than traditional radiators.
“Systems can also be controlled by room, by time of day and even remotely, helping to manage their energy usage and running costs.
“Shaking up product supply chains isn’t easy to do, but if cost and ease of installation are two of your priorities, then it’s certainly worth exploring the UFH market.
“The added benefits for you are that you’re increasing the desirability of your properties and you’re building safer homes to live in.”