The World Health Organisation recommends that the average indoor temperature for the house of a healthy person who is appropriately dressed is 18C. This number increases to a minimum of 20C for the sick or the elderly who are unable to move around as much to generate their own body heat.
However, British winters are cold, and with energy bills soaring, this means that central heating is an expensive commodity. Installations of double glazing, whilst useful, are not enough to reach these temperatures on particularly cold days, so homeowners are increasingly looking towards options such as underfloor heating to efficiently warm their homes whilst saving them money in the long run.
It may surprise many that underfloor heating, which sounds like such a luxury, is actually an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to heat a building. This is because underfloor heating, or UFH, involves coils of pipe being laid beneath the floor, which allows for the movement of warm water below which in turn heats the room above. The warmth is concentrated at a ‘living level’ which is located low down in the space of the room where we as people tend to operate, rather than high up at the ceiling level in unoccupied space, so very little heat and therefore money is wasted.
UFH is efficient also because the pipes can be connected beneath the entire floor surface area, which allows heating access to the whole room and also because heat rises, so only a cost-effective low energy heat source is required to achieve a pleasant temperature within your room. Underfloor heating, for instance, only requires temperatures of 12C to heat the pipes.
One such low energy heat source which is natural is called geothermal heat.
What Is Geothermal Heat?
Geothermal energy harnesses the natural high temperatures generated by solar energy and found deep in the ground beneath us, and uses them to heat water and buildings. Geothermal energies can be accessed through the use of boreholes or ground source heat pumps which are widely used in other parts of the world such as North America, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. These heat pumps can also be installed anywhere in the UK and the energy obtained is sustainable for our environment, as the water that is used to heat the pipes can be returned back to the ground.
How can Ground Source Heat Pumps save you money?
Although it is generally acknowledged that the initial set-up costs of ground source heat pumps may be more expensive than a traditional heating system, it is estimated that you’ll receive the difference in cost back within 3-10 years. Here are some of the ways that you’ll recoup this cost:
- GSHP requires very little maintenance, so ideally you won’t be required to pay for parts and labour to preserve your system
- A GSHP system has a much longer life span than a normal heating system, with some models lasting up to 50 years.
- A house kitted out with GSHP and underfloor heating could increase the sale value of your property.
- GSHP is much cheaper to run than electric heating and oil boilers and can be as affordable as a gas system.
Home owners who are looking to obtain a more affordable energy bill would do well to invest in underfloor heating for their home sooner rather than later. It will save you money in the long run, as well as help to preserve our planet.
Sean Casey is the director of Terra Therma, a company that specialises in the installation of green energy solutions, such as underfloor heating and heat pumps.