The cold reality: New Zealand homes compared to global standards

New Zealand homes, by global standards, have often been characterised as cold and poorly insulated.

Couple this with the fact that fuel poverty is a very real issue and is thought to be a factor in New Zealand’s high rate of winter mortality (16%, about 1,600 deaths a year) and excess winter hospitilations (8%), any form of economical heating is going makes some very real sense for all New Zealand new builds.

Here at QPOD we’re seeing rising demand for underfloor heating on the jobs that come across our desks, and there’s little wonder as to why when you consider the long term cost savings.

Underfloor heating, does it make sense?


Space heating constitutes a significant portion of the energy bill for homes in New Zealand, making up approximately one-third of total energy consumption. Choosing an efficient and effective heating system can substantially impact the running costs of a home, making it a critical decision for homeowners.

While underfloor heating (UFH) may involve a higher initial expense compared to our traditional New Zealand heat pumps, it’s crucial not to be put off by this factor alone. Despite the higher upfront cost, the running expenses of UFH are typically far lower than those of heat pumps. The longevity of underfloor heating systems is also remarkable, with a life expectancy of 50 years or more, far outpacing the average lifespan of heat pumps, which typically last between 8 to 12 years.

In a screed-based wet underfloor heating installation, pipes are laid over insulation in rows, coiling where necessary, and evenly spaced to ensure uniform heat distribution across the floor area. A self-levelling screed is then applied over the pipes, effectively burying them within the flooring structure.

Despite the initial investment and the waiting period for the screed to dry effectively, the benefits of underfloor heating, including lower running costs and exceptional longevity, make it a compelling option for homeowners seeking efficient and long-lasting heating solutions for their homes.

Radiant heat, not convective


Radiators and heat pumps typically concentrate heat in small areas, directly warming the air nearby. This heated air rises along the walls, travels across the ceiling, and eventually descends towards the floor at the room’s center. The result? Warmer air near the ceiling and cooler temperatures near the floor—a phenomenon often referred to as “warm head, cold feet.”

In contrast, underfloor heating systems primarily generate radiant heat rather than convective heat. Unlike radiators, which rely on air circulation and can contribute to dust buildup, underfloor heating delivers warmth through radiant heat. This radiant heat, akin to the comforting warmth of a traditional tile stove, creates a cozy and uniformly comfortable atmosphere throughout the room.

QPOD and underfloor heating


So, how does QPOD, paired with underfloor heating, elevate the thermal performance of New Zealand homes?

QPOD’s innovative foundation system encapsulates air, significantly improving its thermal capabilities and yielding exceptional R-values. This ensures that your home stays warmer in winter and cooler in summer, all while reducing energy consumption.

When integrating underfloor heating with QPOD, options abound. Typically, hydronic heating pipes are laid atop the QPOD mesh, with an additional 25mm topping applied to accommodate saw cuts. This method allows for efficient heat distribution throughout the floor, maximising comfort levels.

Alternatively, electric cable heating can also be seamlessly integrated using the same approach. This flexibility ensures that homeowners have options tailored to their preferences and project requirements.

Lastly, a note on sidewall insulation when it comes to underfloor heating


Ensuring optimal insulation throughout your home is key to maximizing energy efficiency and comfort, especially when incorporating underfloor heating systems. With sidewall insulation mandated to have a minimum R-value of 1.0, it’s clear that every aspect of your foundation design matters.

The days of overlooking sidewall insulation are over; with sidewall insulation now being an integral part of any foundation design, particularly when embedded heating is involved. Sidewall insulation not only preventing heat loss through perimeter beams but also lays the groundwork for a more sustainable and comfortable living environment. When it comes to sidewall insulation, here at QPOD we always recommend QuickSet.

More underfloor heating resources