THE uncluttered simplicity of minimalist furnishing will become as synonymous with the opening decade of the third millennium as art deco was to the 1930s and Carnaby Street was to the '60s.
Eliminating all but the stylish essentials to achieve a truly minimalistic living space can stall at the appliance engineering built into all but the most recently-constructed properties.
A solution is at hand, however, with the ultimate in minimalist design, concealed underfloor heating, which creates a warm and cosy space with no visible or intrusive signs of heating equipment.
Underfloor heating (UFH) can be used in old or new properties and is a space saving option, making any room or area a blank canvas for individual design or renovation.
Many office buildings are opting for underfloor heating to allow for more floor space and consistent heat distribution. It also eliminates the imbalance of heat distribution, whereby those who sit near to radiators often complain of being too hot while others sitting further away complain of being too cold. Nothing is guaranteed to cause friction in a working environment more than the fight to take control of the office thermostat.
Now widely acknowledged as one of the most effective ways of obtaining uniform heat distribution, UFH has numerous benefits. The system is long-lasting and saves up to 25% on average fuel bills and up to 40% on bills in larger properties.
UFH has been specially designed to ensure the air in the room does not dry out and humidity is maintained at optimum levels. The humidity is typically 12% higher than with conventional heating systems, which helps to maintain a feeling of wellbeing, and UFH can provide benefits for allergy sufferers, as it does not produce convection currents that carry dust and other particles.
Myson Underfloor general manager, Tom Conway, said: 'The system can be used in conjunction with the existing domestic radiator system and is ideal for house extensions or conservatories where there is little wall space'.
'Electric and warm-water underfloor can be fitted under tiles, laminate floors or carpets. The added benefit of having underfloor heating under tiles or laminate flooring is that there are no more cold spots, which make it more comfortable underfoot.'
Electric underfloor heating is quick and easy to install and economical, running at up to 150W per square metre, making it ideal for either background or sole heating, and therefore very flexible. It is ideal for renovation projects, or simply to help give a new look to a bathroom or similar area, with no need to adjust the existing plumbing system.
The electric system complements the already-successful Myson Underfloor products, which run off hot water heating, catering for all sizes of premises. The electric option means that even smaller rooms can benefit from underfloor technology. With everything that is needed coming in the one box.
Warm-water underfloor works by warm water circulating through a network of polyethylene pipes laid in the floor. The water is distributed to the pipes through solid one-piece stainless steel manifolds at between 45-550C.
Tom said: 'Unlike a standard radiator system, which is usually programmed to come on twice or three times a day, UFH typically operates throughout the day, maintaining a comfortable heat all the time. This saves energy and costs less to operate because once the water has warmed up it takes a very small amount of energy to maintain the temperature'.
According to AMA Research, UFH currently accounts for more than 5% of the total market in the UK, of which 50% is domestic and 50% commercial.
Forecasts for 2006-2009 suggest sustained growth, with the market expected to at least treble in the 2003-2009 period. The market was valued at less than £10million in 2000 but industry observers forecast that the sector could grow towards £100million by 2009.
'The UK market is evolving quickly and, as little as five years ago, demand was primarily based on the self-build sector and small-scale commercial and housing developments. However, more recent growth in the UFH market has been driven by developments in a wider range of end use sectors,' he said.
'The general economic environment has had a significant effect on the development of the UFH market, influencing a wide range of factors such as the level of activity within housebuilding, consumer confidence and spending levels,' he added.
'The self-build market was the first sector to adopt UFH on a reasonable scale, with further growth anticipated, but there is already a relatively high level of penetration in this sector. The two large growth areas are the private and social housing sectors, where UFH is not used in any great volume, and the commercial market, where UFH is increasingly the preferred option for heating in education and health establishments.'
Myson is leading the way as UFH establishes itself as one of the major growth areas of the central heating market.