Living in a Victorian cottage on the edge of the country's newest National Park is almost perfect. Opening onto ancient oak woodland and rolling countryside all round is quite a blessing and the wide variety of wildlife I see every day looking out of my window makes for a very pleasant life. The fact that we are not fortunate enough to be linked to the gas main and spend many a happy night in mid winter, sprinting down the garden with a torch and an umbrella to collect the coal, or when the coal man is unable to deliver occupying our time sawing up the kitchen furniture for fire wood is neither here nor there.
The problems with 'Traditional' heating systems
You see every nearly-perfect picture has a smudge. Living where I do, in an old, energy-inefficient house can have its drawbacks. Yes, using real fires can be romantic, but as you may know, many solid fuel boilers have only two reliable temperature settings; off and Death Valley, and without the luxury of gas or the desire for the expense and mess of converting to oil, I wanted to find out what other ways there were for heating my house. I did not think that electric underfloor heating would be suitable for my old, rickety property, with its ill-fitting doors and uneven floorboards; however this underfloor heating is certainly not just for new builds and modern properties. I also found that alongside heating your house, there are other advantages with using this for of heating as well.
Insulation - the key to efficient underfloor heating
Before I had the heating installed, I had each floor fitted with Heat Mat's insulation board. This went down on concrete and wood alike and immediately made a difference. Even without anything else, the feeling under my feet was significantly warmer than on the previously un-insulated floor. Insulation board blocks the sapping of heat by substances like concrete, so the cold feel is no longer there. The other interesting bonus is that these boards provide very good sound insulation, muffling noises from the rooms below. When the boards were down on my wooden floors they created a far more even surface- no warping or creaking and this made a perfect base for the heating and the final coverings. A great plus is the ability to control the temperature in each room separately, because we all know that each room is different, it serves different functions and therefore needs to be treated in a different way. With separate thermostats, you can have warm and inviting in the hall, temperate but comfortable in the living room or cooler and fresher in the bedroom. For example, my bathroom was always uncomfortably chilly before. Having a bath was a chore and you rushed it. Now at the click of my beautiful chrome thermostat, I have beautiful warm tiles to stand on, and instead of hopping off it into slippers, I stroll across savouring the warmth. Unfortunately this tropical bathing sanctuary is not just for me; each Autumn, when I turn the heating on again, my cats retire to the bathroom only to re-emerge around March time. I often find them in there, prostrate and snoring, pressing their bellies to the floor!
No more ugly radiators
Another great advantage with underfloor heating is that you can do away with unsightly radiators. Living in a fairly small house, the space they took up on my walls drastically restricted the way I furnished my home, but now I can do what I like with it. I can paint the walls without having to get one of those special little rollers, I can put furniture almost wherever I like and I know that I will not get hot and cold spots because the heat comes from below. I have put bookcases up in spaces that once were taken up by hot metal. So I can now relax back, kick off my shoes (and socks!) and reach for a good book, without reaching for the hot water bottle.