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Central Heating vs Underfloor Heating: A Comprehensive Comparison.


When it comes to heating our homes, there are several options to consider. Central heating and underfloor heating are two popular choices that offer distinct advantages and considerations.

In this article, we will delve into the key factors to help you make an informed decision based on property types, costs, installation processes, complexities, potential issues, future-proofing, seasonal costs, maintenance, aesthetics, practicality, legislation, and grants.

Let’s buckle up and pull apart these heating systems..

What is central heating?

Central heating is a method of heating a building or a series of rooms from a central source, typically a boiler or heat pump. It involves the distribution of heat throughout the property using a network of pipes, radiators, or vents. The central heating system works by generating heat in a central location and then distributing it to different areas or rooms to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the building.

The primary components of a central heating system include:

Heat Source: This can be a boiler, heat pump, or furnace that generates heat by burning fuel (such as gas, oil, or biomass) or utilising electricity.

Distribution System: A network of pipes or ducts carries the heated water or air from the heat source to the different rooms or zones of the building.

Radiators or Vents: These devices are installed in each room or area to release the heat into the space. Radiators are common in older central heating systems and use convection to warm the air, while vents are more typical in modern systems, allowing for forced air distribution.

Controls: Central heating systems are equipped with thermostats, timers, and controls that enable users to regulate the temperature and schedule heating cycles.

It’s worth noting that central heating systems may vary in design and components depending on factors such as the size of the property, fuel availability, local climate, and personal preferences.

What is underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating is a method of heating a building by installing heating elements or pipes directly beneath the flooring. It involves the distribution of heat evenly across the floor surface, providing a comfortable and efficient way to warm indoor spaces. Underfloor heating systems can use either electric heating mats or a network of water pipes connected to a heat source.

There are two main types of underfloor heating systems:

Electric Underfloor Heating: These systems consist of heating mats or cables that are installed beneath the flooring. These mats or cables are connected to an electric power supply and generate heat when electricity passes through them. Electric underfloor heating is typically used for smaller areas or specific rooms.

Hydronic Underfloor Heating: These systems use a network of water pipes installed beneath the floor. Hot water is circulated through these pipes from a central heat source, such as a boiler or heat pump. The heated water transfers its warmth to the floor, which then radiates heat into the room. Hydronic underfloor heating is commonly used for larger areas and entire homes.

It’s important to note that underfloor heating systems require professional installation to ensure proper performance and compatibility with the chosen flooring materials. Additionally, the installation process and costs may vary depending on the type of underfloor heating chosen and the specific requirements of the property.

Central heating vs underfloor heating

Property types.

Central heating systems are VERY versatile and can be installed in various property types, including houses, apartments, and commercial buildings. They utilise radiators or vents to distribute heat throughout the space.

Underfloor heating systems are better suited for new constructions or major renovation projects. They work well with different flooring types, such as tile, stone, or laminate, making them ideal for residential homes.

The Costs.

The initial cost of installing a central heating system is generally lower than underfloor heating. However, the overall cost will depend on factors like the size of the property, the complexity of the installation, and the choice of radiators or vents.

Underfloor heating systems tend to have higher upfront costs due to the installation of pipes or electric mats beneath the floor surface. However, they can provide long-term energy savings, potentially offsetting the initial investment.

Energy Efficiency.

Central heating uses a lot of energy to heat the room as compared to underfloor heating systems.

Underfloor heating uses less energy to run. On average, it uses around 14%-15% less energy as it can heat the room at a lower temperature and make the heat last for a long time.

Central heating systems tend to have a small surface area requiring them to produce a lot of heat to make the room warm. Underfloor heating systems are placed under the floor’s surface to help distribute heat evenly even at low temperatures.

Installation Processes and Complexities.

Installing central heating typically involves connecting a boiler or heat source to a network of pipes that lead to radiators or vents in each room. The complexity can vary based on the property’s layout and the need for additional plumbing but in an average size home can be installed fairly easily. On average, the installation process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Installing underfloor heating involves laying pipes or electric mats beneath the flooring, followed by connecting them to a heat source. This process can be more complex and time-consuming, requiring professional expertise. On average again, the installation process can take several days to a couple of weeks depending on various factors, including the size of the area, the type of underfloor heating system (electric or hydronic), the complexity of the installation, and the specific requirements of the project.

Potential Issues.

Central heating systems can develop issues such as airlocks, pipe leaks, or problems with individual radiators. These issues can impact the distribution of heat throughout the property and require maintenance or repairs.

Potential issues with underfloor heating include leaks in the pipes, damage to the flooring during installation or repairs, and uneven heat distribution if not properly designed or maintained. Issues with both of these systems can be rectified by having a specialist installer such as Heat From Air on your side. We have the skills and capacity to maximise heating potential and keep issues to a minimum!


Central heating systems are well-established and widely supported, making them relatively future-proof. They can be easily upgraded or adapted to work with newer technologies or energy sources such as air source heat pumps.

Underfloor heating systems are also compatible with future upgrades and advancements. However, modifications may require more significant changes to the floor structure, making future-proofing a consideration during initial installation.

Seasonal Costs.

Central heating costs during winter can be higher due to the need for more frequent and consistent heating. However, modern central heating systems can be programmed for efficiency, allowing you to regulate heating zones and reduce costs.

Underfloor heating generally provides more consistent heating throughout the year. During winter, the costs might be slightly higher, but in summer, underfloor heating can be used to warm specific areas or maintain a comfortable temperature.


Central heating systems require regular maintenance, including boiler servicing, radiator bleeding, and checking for leaks or blockages. Annual maintenance can help ensure efficient operation and longevity.

Underfloor heating systems typically require less maintenance since they have fewer moving parts. However, regular inspections and checks of the system’s components are essential to identify any potential issues. Maintenance is a crucial aspect of maximising the efficiency and output of mechanical systems and helping to reduce downtime. The best time to have this done is during the warmer months when the systems aren’t being used.

Aesthetics and Practicality.

Central heating systems can impact the aesthetics of a space due to the presence of radiators or vents. However, modern designs offer a variety of styles and sizes to match different interior themes. Modern radiators are very slick and futuristic looking and can be installed to blend into a home aesthetic with ease.

Underfloor heating is hidden beneath the flooring, allowing for unobstructed design possibilities and maximising space utilisation. It provides even heat distribution and eliminates the need for visible heating fixtures. You wouldn’t even know you had underfloor heating!

Legislation and Grants.

Central heating systems must comply with local building codes and regulations. There may be specific requirements for boiler efficiency, emissions, or safety measures. Government grants or incentives might be available for upgrading to energy-efficient central heating systems but make sure to contact our specialist team to find out more.

Similar to central heating, underfloor heating systems must meet building regulations and standards. Some governments offer grants or subsidies to encourage the adoption of energy-efficient heating solutions.


Choosing between central heating and underfloor heating depends on various factors, including property type, upfront costs, installation complexity, maintenance requirements, aesthetics, and practicality. Both systems have their merits and considerations. By carefully evaluating your specific needs and priorities, you can select the heating solution that best aligns with your preferences and long-term goals for comfort, energy efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

REMEMBER, there is still plenty of time to apply to the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and receive a £5000 grant to take off of your air source heat pump installation costs. To find out more, discover our blogs and read the available grants!

If you would like to know more about whether your property and heat pump installation is suitable for underfloor heating, contact Heat From Air today. Our independent renewable heat experts are here to help.

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