The time is now to deliver healthy, safe and efficient homes for the future

“The much-anticipated Future Homes Standard (FHS) will be fully adopted in less than a year, so now is the time to ensure home heating systems work in harmony and tick every box – from energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality to damp and mould prevention,” says Ashley Cooper, Managing Director at WMS, leading supplier and installer of underfloor heating systems in the UK.

“Interim changes enforced from June 2022, including adjustments to Part F and L of the Building Regulations, were some of the most significant adjustments the UK housing market has ever seen for new-build and retrofit projects. The FHS builds further on these changes and, coupled with improvements already made to energy efficiency standards, are designed to prevent damp and mould, excess cold and heat, and improve air quality.

“Delivering warm, safe and decent homes is a priority for the government in setting these new standards, and there’s an increased focus on this following the publication of a new report, the recent Health and Social Care Committee report1. The findings suggest that excess cold, heat, damp and mould are some of the most serious housing hazards, so creating healthy, safe homes for now and the future has never been more important.

“While increased ventilation may seem like the solution, unfortunately, it can’t be relied upon all year round because air temperatures and cold surfaces also play their part in the formation of condensation and, subsequently, mould growth.

“The only heating system which can heat all surfaces in the room evenly is radiant heating, specifically hydronic (water-based) underfloor heating. This form of heating creates evenly warm spaces, and because warm air holds more moisture than cool air, that room can hold more moisture rather than depositing it as condensation and, subsequently, mould growth. Boilers and standard radiators will no longer be an option to meet the new regulatory demands and cannot heat all surfaces in the room evenly. Underfloor heating also meets the needs of screeded systems, suitable for new builds, and low profile systems, which keep floor build-up to a minimum in retrofit scenarios.

“Pairing seamlessly into a low-temperature system, hydronic (water-based) underfloor heating, by design, covers a much greater surface area than radiators and is designed to run at 35°C rather than the 70°C required by a standard radiator system.

“While air source heat pumps (ASHP) are a popular choice to meet the new standards, as these heat sources have far fewer tolerances than the industry is used to, especially compared to traditional heating systems. A poorly designed system could increase energy bills and is a risk that cannot afford to be taken when National Energy Action2 predicts that three million households in England alone will still be trapped in fuel poverty by 2030 – the same number who are currently in fuel poverty in England living in cold, damp and unhealthy homes.

“To ensure maximum efficiency is achieved, precision design and installation are critical, and hydronic underfloor heating is the only heat emitter that supports this type of renewable heat source to achieve its most effective coefficient of performance (COP), running between 35-45°C. Together, ASHPs and underfloor heating create a low-temperature solution which ticks every regulatory box. However, collaboration is key as the industry works together to navigate the period of change and low carbon future ahead.”

WMS has also shared further findings around the issue of tackling mould within residential properties here.