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HEATING, VENTILATION & SERVICES


Designing-in the benefits of UFH


Toby Howard-Willis of JG Speedfit looks at some of the key design considerations for modern house design when it comes to underfloor heating


ousebuilders are fast realising the benefits of underfloor heating solu- tions (UFH), prompting architects to give more focus to this during the design of new properties. However, with so many different underfloor heating systems on the market, and technology still maturing, it can be difficult to know exactly what needs to be considered in architectural plans as house design continues to evolve. The most effective underfloor heating solution is one that is designed around the individual needs of the customer and the likely requirements of the occupants. Ever since the introduction of the Green Deal in the UK back in 2013, house- builders have been asking architects to plan projects with energy efficiency in mind, in order to meet sustainability targets. As a result, the traditional image of a bricks and mortar house has started to change, with angular glass buildings, barn conversions and small building projects becoming the norm. While architects are increasingly designing buildings to harness as much natural energy as possible, these designs are making typical heating installations more challenging to achieve.


H Through the looking glass


Take angular glass buildings as an example. These are designed with a view to attracting as much natural light as possible, to save on traditional lighting bills. However, heating a room with such a distinctive architectural design can be diffi- cult to achieve with conventional radiator systems. Not only is it impossible to install a radiator to a glass wall, but because of the fabric of the building, ‘insulation by design’ is difficult to achieve whichever heating method is chosen. Very few are designed with the aim of providing any additional insulation above and beyond the heating output that you would expect to achieve.


This is helping to make underfloor heating more popular. By heating a building through pipes underneath the floor, a stead- ier background heat can be created, reductions in energy use can be achieved, and of course, the need for radiators is eliminated, thus solving a tricky design problem. The latter point is of particular benefit when you consider the increasing demand for minimalist building designs with greater space and more pleasing aesthetics.


building is roughly a day, compared with more than three days typically required to install a traditional radiator system, and the benefits of UFH for modern buildings start to become very clear.


Even for buildings without large glass ‘concertinas,’ the price of designer radiators can be prohibitively expensive when compared to the relatively lower cost of underfloor heating. Consider also that the time it takes to install UFH for a typical 110 m2


Zonal planning


As more modern buildings begin to utilise timber frame construction, UFH installation is becoming a more flexible and versatile option for architects. While little changes on the top floor of a building, the bottom floor typically becomes more open plan. Architects can use this to their advan- tage when it comes to considering zones of the building that need to be heated. The term ‘zone’ is used to describe an area to be heated and controlled by one thermo- stat. Typically, an entire home will be sectioned into different zones, where the temperature and heating duration need to be controlled. Increasingly, there are instances where there are two rooms combined into one zone. In this instance, it is important to consider how these zones will be heated. For example, if you have a modest


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Since the introduction of the Green Deal in 2013, housebuilders have been asking architects to plan projects with energy efficiency in mind


ADF APRIL 2017


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