Is underfloor heating expensive – should I turn it off to save money?

Underfloor heating can be toasty, but does it cost a fortune to run? (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

We all know the feeling – walking into a room and feeling warm tiles on your toes, thanks to underfloor heating. But is it too expensive to use in a cost of living crisis?

Underfloor heating used to be a luxury, but these days it’s commonplace, and sometimes used to heat whole houses or flats instead of traditional radiators.

So what exactly is underfloor heating, how does it work, and what does it cost to run?

Does turning it off and on make for higher bills overall?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is underfloor heating?

Heated floors date back to 5000BC, when warm stones were used in China, and the Greeks and Romans followed suit.

There are two types of underfloor heating – electric and water-based.

Water-based underfloor heating sends warm water through pipes (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Electric systems heat underneath the floor through a network of coils and wires, while water-based systems pipe warm water around.

Both distribute the heat more evenly than radiators, according to website They’re basically like a giant underfloor radiator!

Also, keeping the floor warm reduces dust mites, which is good for anyone with allergies.

According to Ideal Home, electric systems heat up quicker and are easier and cheaper to fit. They can also be installed by anyone reasonably good at DIY.

But the electric-based systems cost more to run than the water-based ones, and also cool down much quicker when switched off.

Installing warm water underfloor heating is a job for the professionals (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Ovo Energy’s guide says: ‘It’s generally agreed that wet underfloor heating systems are the best because they’re more effective, more efficient, and cheaper to run.

‘Pipes that hold the hot water are attached onto an insulation layer, then the screed (a concrete-like material) is poured over the pipes and sets hard. 

The warm pipes heat up the whole slab, which gives a consistent and even warmth.’

How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

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Firstly, the cost of running any underfloor heating depends on how well installed it is – including how insulated underneath it is. And how thick any carpet is on top of it.

If the underfloor heating isn’t working properly, and giving out ‘patchy’ areas of heat, you could end up turning up the thermometer or keeping it on for longer.

But as a general rule, electric underfloor heating costs three or four times to run as much as water-based systems. offers a useful cost calculator where you can choose the size of room, your location, and how many hours a day you’ll be running it.

For example, to use electric heating in an average-sized UK bathroom for six hours a day (which is on the low side, given that it needs time to warm up before you get up!) costs around 92p a day – that’s around £83 per quarter.

How can I tell what type of underfloor heating I have?

Underfloor heating thermostat panel

This underfloor heating thermostat panel is on the wall, so it’s electric (Picture Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Take a look at the thermostat.

If you’ve got a water-based system, this will likely be set in front of a manifold – a collection of water pipes in a box.

Electric thermostats are on the wall like regular ones you’d find with radiators.

Is it cheaper to leave underfloor heating on?

In cold weather, leaving the underfloor heating on low can save you money (Picture: Getty)

It depends on the time of year.

According to Ovo Energy, ‘in colder months, it can work out cheaper to leave underfloor heating on at a low temperature throughout the day, because of the time it can take to warm up.’

Ovo adds that keeping your underfloor heating system just a couple of degrees warmer than normal room temperature can use 15 to 40% less energy than traditional radiators’.

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