Keeping your brand new kitchen energy efficient and warm in winter
Now that the clocks have gone back, winter is fast approaching; in fact I think it might already be here! The mornings are colder, the nights are darker and temperatures have dropped dramatically.
If you’re planning to update your kitchen space, you’ll most likely have a list of your top priorities, but many of those lists won’t have considered how you plan to keep the space warm. You might have spent a lot of time pondering the type of bespoke cabinetry you want or worktops, splashback materials and the appliances you and your family will need to keep things running smoothly.
You might have even started to think about lighting and wall colours but the one thing that can often make or break the usability of a kitchen is often not given nearly enough thought. That one thing is exactly how you plan to keep your kitchen warm.
Whatever way you plan to heat your kitchen, from radiators and cast-iron ranges to underfloor heating, your choice will have a huge impact not just on how you use your kitchen when it’s complete but how you design the room from its inception.
Choosing the right boiler
First things first, the key to a good reliable heating system is a reliable boiler. When you’re planning your kitchen design, whether it’s a modern design, traditional, or contemporary kitchen design, it might be worth factoring in a new boiler rather than repairing it if yours is more than 15 years old.
Older boilers are not nearly as energy efficient as new models. Updating an old system to an A-rated condensing boiler can reward you with a 90% increase in efficiency. Replacing a boiler can free up some room for more cupboards or worktops. Plus you’ll benefit from instant hot water if you opt for a condensing combi-boiler.
This is an option that is widely considered as a lovely luxury addition. If you are designing your kitchen from the floor up, then underfloor heating gives comfortable radiant heat and can deliver great savings too.
You can go down two different routes with underfloor heating. Depending on what type of heating you opt for, it can be used under most types of flooring including: stone, tile, wood and vinyl. It’s best to check your floor is a suitable match before you go ahead and invest, but a large kitchen with porcelain or ceramic tiles are almost always a perfect fit with underfloor heating.
One of your options is electric flooring – it is easier to fit, with it being a network of wire elements on a mesh that is placed below the flooring or wet systems, which use water pipes below the floor. An electric system is easier to lay and can be retro-fitted fairly easily if you’re laying a new floor, just check with your builder first.
The second option is wet systems, which require more work, but are better suited to renovations, such as new extensions or completely new builds.
You can install underfloor heating without needing to sacrifice valuable wall space like you would with radiators – instead you can make use of that space for additional bespoke storage options, wine coolers, American fridges or simply some more cupboards.
It is also vital to have your kitchen design finalised before the pipes or matts are laid for the flooring, as it would be an absolute waste to heat built-in cupboards, or under appliances. A floor plan from your expert designer will help any heating engineer advise not only the best pattern to lay the floor in, but also where to place the controls on the walls.
Using a timed thermostat means that you can set the heating on to warm the room just enough so it’s a little easier to step into your kitchen on a frosty winter morning.
A safe option, that has been used for many years in the majority of homes across the UK are central heating systems which heat a series of radiators around the home. Usually already in place, updating them from dated 1970s flat panel models to one of the many stunning styles on offer from specialists such as Bisque or Aestus can completely change the look of a room.
For contemporary schemes look at ladder-style vertical radiators in sleek white and steel finishes and for classic kitchens pick something a little more period in its look like Bisque’s Classic range, which echoes Edwardian shapes.
You might want to consider using an online calculator if you are considering radiators. There are plenty of online calculators to help you do this – just pop in the room’s dimensions, the number of windows and the calculator will give you the BTUs or wattage required.
For traditional kitchens, you might want to consider an ‘always-on’ Aga, especially for farmhouse designs. They will provide a radiant heat to warm your kitchen on a winter’s morning but it can’t run a central heating system. If you want your heat-store range to do that, then opt for models from Stanley or Rayburn, which can often run up to 20 radiators.
There are now mobile apps available for you to control your heating wherever and whenever you are. Investing in an app-controlled heating system, such as Hive or Nest, means you can switch your heating on and off with the tap of a button on your phone.