The recent energy price cap increase implemented has prompted households across the UK to consider ways to make their home more efficient. One solution is to review the flooring in your home and consider whether some simple changes could improve the way your house retains heat, starting with your choice of underlay. Its hidden nature means underlay is often overlooked, but the right choice could unlock many benefits, especially when it comes to making your home more efficient. Here, Josh Barber, Head of Buying & Merchandising at Flooring Superstore, explains more about energy efficiency using underlay.

How does underlay work?

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“Underlay can be used beneath all kinds of flooring, from carpets to laminate and wood flooring. It helps you get the best performance from your flooring and can extend the lifespan of carpet or laminate flooring by up to 50%. It provides a soft cushioning and is made up of millions of tiny fibres that also act as natural insulators. There are many types of underlay available, from ranges that are compatible with underfloor heating to moisture-resistant underlay that prevents rising damp. From entry-level to premium ranges that give unrivalled cushioning, there is a wide selection to choose from. New underlay is especially recommended for areas of the home with high footfall, as it improves shock absorption and will keep new carpets bouncing back for longer.”

Does underlay really retain heat?

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“We all know that cold air enters homes through windows, doors and walls, but it also rises through the floor. The right underlay can act as a barrier, stopping cold air in its tracks and preventing warm air from escaping. It is the ideal insulator if you have draughty areas like floorboards, or if you are fitting new flooring that has a cold surface. If you live in a period property where draught and heat loss is especially prevalent, underlay can provide an additional layer of thermal insulation.

“Much like duvets, underlay and carpets come with a tog rating. Starting from 0 for lower insulation qualities, a higher tog rating indicates better heat retention properties. If you are looking for maximum heat retention, consider combining a high tog rating underlay with a dense pile carpet. If you have underfloor heating, you should generally avoid exceeding a combined tog rating of 2.5, but it is wise to contact your heating manufacturer to find out the maximum compatible rating. If you do have underfloor heating, make sure you choose a compatible underlay such as EvoCore 360 Underlay, which is also moisture resistant.

“Aside from the heat retention benefits, underlay can also reduce noise and prevent unwanted sounds from travelling through your home. This is especially important when considering laminate and hard flooring, which can be very noisy without the right foundations. Filling the void beneath your new floor with cushioned underlay dampens echoes and improves the overall performance of laminate flooring. If you live in an apartment and want to minimise noise travel, or if you are fitting new flooring in the upstairs of your house, a good-quality underlay can bring an extra layer of soundproofing.

“The right underlay can improve the air quality of your home, filtering out harmful dust particles and providing anti-allergenic properties to help purify the air in your home. Choosing an eco-friendly underlay like the Breathe Natural 10mm Underlay, has the added benefit of being 100% biodegradable. Underlay conceals dirt and dust, trapping it beneath the surface, so remember to replace it each time you change your flooring.”

What’s the most efficient flooring?

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“If energy efficiency, warmth and comfort are your priority, solutions like vinyl and laminate are often more insulating than traditional alternatives like wooden floorboards. They can replicate the look of on-trend styles such as stone, concrete, wood and tiles and often come at a fraction of the cost.

“Alternatively, carpet is a classic choice for a reason and it is hard to beat when it comes to heat retention. When paired with a thick underlay, carpets bring unrivalled bounce and comfort to your home, trapping in warm air and insulating your home in style.

“Whatever your choice of flooring, teaming it with the right underlay will maximise its performance and help to keep your home cosy and warm. With energy bills set to rise to unprecedented levels this year, now could be the ideal time to invest in the right foundations to insulate your home for years to come.”