Why underfloor heating is a ‘hot’ topic for housebuilders

The launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in April 2014 has seen an increase in consumers becoming aware of the benefits of making their homes more energy efficient. Andy Coy, product manager for underfloor heating at Polypipe, takes a look at what housebuilders need to know about the scheme and how they can take advantage of it

Under the RHI, homeowners are being encouraged to install renewable heat sources – such as air or ground source heat pumps, biomass pellets stoves with integrated boilers, or solar thermal panels – in return for a quarterly cash dividend for every unit of energy produced. The scheme is the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat, and is the latest attempt from the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of alternatives to fossil fuels.

Westminster is aiming for 35,000 homeowners to sign up to scheme by the end of the year, helping to meet its target for the UK to generate 15 per cent of its energy demand for renewable sources by 2020. Figures released from Ofgem have revealed that 4,448 households have already been accredited for the RHI to date. The launch of schemes such as the domestic RHI can provide housebuilders and developers with a unique selling point for the house hunter looking for a more environmentally-friendly property, which can help them to reduce their energy bills and generate a monetary return.

Underfloor heating and the RHI scheme complement each other; many of the renewable heat sources available under the RHI scheme are compatible with water-based underfloor heating. If a property has both a renewable heat source and underfloor heating installed, not only will the homeowner receive payments through the RHI for generating energy, but they will also be able to reduce their energy bills. The use of wet underfloor heating offers even more control over bills, as the cost of water isn’t affected by fossil fuel availability and is less prone to price increases, unlike gas and electricity.

Underfloor heating is considered one of the most energy efficient systems currently available, and has a number of other benefits too. Underfloor heating provides comfort and helps to evenly distribute heat around the room. Underfloor heating also provides flexibility when designing the layout of a room, as fixed radiators are no longer taking up wall space.

The benefits for housebuilders considering installing both renewable heat sources and underfloor heating systems in their housing developments are clear, as the addition can help make properties more desirable and likely to sell. Energy efficiency is an issue which homeowners are becoming increasingly mindful about due to the awareness around the rewards and incentives available to improve the eco credentials of their home.

There is an underfloor heating system available for almost every application. Typically, in a new property development, underfloor heating will be fitted within the floor and sealed with a concrete screed at the same time with little, if any change, to the floor construction. Advancements in the underfloor market have made retrofit systems simpler to fit than ever before too. Low-profile over-the-floor solutions, can be installed beneath an existing floor covering with minimal disruption and are as thin as 2cm in depth, removing the need to raise the level of the floor.

It is worth noting that as the domestic RHI scheme has been open for a few months now, housebuilders and developers need to ensure the underfloor heating products they are installing and their application knowledge is up-to-date. Many manufacturers provide a wealth of free off and online training programmes to builders and developers. In addition, there is an ongoing independent campaign, Ask for Underfloor, which has lots of information on underfloor heating for housebuilders and developers.

For more information visit the Ask for Underfloor website: www.askforunderfloor.org.uk/developer

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