A couple in Hull have taken the bold decision to rip out all of their conventional radiators and replace their heating system with wallpaper — well, electric infrared wallpaper to be precise.
Home heating costs are fast becoming a vital consideration for every homeowner but 31-year-old Kris Bilski and his wife Olga decided to take a leap of faith and become early adopters of this rather curious emerging technology, and they haven't looked back, saying that it leaves their home warmer than their old gas boiler powered radiators.
It uses thin sheets that are inserted or fixed to ceilings, floors, and walls to generate heat using mains electricity. And they soon plan to take things a step further, to reduce their costs, by installing solar panels to power their infrared wallpaper. Here's what you need to know.
What is infrared wallpaper?
The couple used Hull-based iHelios, which produces this infrared wallpaper (although they prefer not to call it wallpaper as the "infrared heating products" can also be installed under floors and in ceilings).
The technology comes in two forms: recyclable film sheets that can be inserted above ceilings or under floors, says director Slawek Jagiello. Infrared heating panels can also be placed on solid surfaces and adds that the soaring price of gas over the last two years has sparked a huge rise in the demand for eco-friendly infrared heating alternatives.
Kris Bilski, who runs a video-production company, explained that he heard about the technology through a colleague and decided to take the plunge.
Why did Kris choose to rip out his radiators to install infrared wallpaper?
Kris decided to install iHelio's patented eco-infrared technology in the ceiling and floors of in his three-bedroom home – leaving the walls free from radiators.
Kris bought his home as a renovation project and, being a self-confessed tech nerd, researched alternative heating options to gas because of its cost and the impact on the environment.
He came across iHelios when his video production company, Astor Film Productions Ltd, took on a project with companies in the renewable energy market.
He decided to prototype the system in his home and then installed it in his studio. Kris calls it “invisible cost-effective heating” and says it costs him an eye-brow raising 20% less than having gas heating.
Kris and his partner like that the system is fully programmable with automatic features to give them full control over their electricity consumption and bills.
He said: “I can enable the geo-location through the app to automatically lower the temperature when I leave the property and rise when return. The system only takes around five minutes to reach the optimal temperature and you don’t need to turn the temperature up in every room of your home, just the one you are using.”
He also plans to eventually install solar panels on his roof to power the wallpaper so that it saves on costs even further.
How does infrared wallpaper heat your home?
While radiators in a central heating system heat rooms by convection, warming air and circulating it, infrared heating warms up solid objects in the room directly, including humans, by emitting heat through infrared waves.
Slawek says one of the key advantages of the iHelios system is that the film has a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) layer, which uses waves of high and low heat to maintain the optimum temperature and save on energy use.
For example, the film starts by heating up to 220 watts per square metre and once it has reached this temperature, it drops to 170 watts per square metre.
“It is also fully controlled by a smart home app which gives multiple possibilities with automation, such as turning down the heating in the rest of the home while just heating the one room you are using to reduce energy consumption,” Slawek said. “This means potential savings on heating unused rooms and full control over your energy usage and electric bills.”
Infrared technology has been around for a long time and is used on baby units to keep pre-term babies warm and has also been used for its ability to repair muscles and heal the body.
Is infrared wallpaper expensive?
Kris Bilski says the infrared technology cost him £3.5k to install, and the system comes with annual maintenance and a 20-year warranty.
As the technology is in the prototype phase, putting a price on installation is difficult as this may change depending on how popular it becomes.
Different types of infrared technology come with different price tags too so it is worth shopping around and also comparing the features and benefits.
Get the Homebuilding & Renovating Newsletter
Bring your dream home to life with expert advice, how to guides and design inspiration. Sign up for our newsletter and get two free tickets to the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show (21-24 March, NEC, Birmingham).
Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.
Couple hit with £80k Community Infrastructure Levy bill for self-build after failing to gain planning in time
Extension for autistic child's bedroom causes row between councillors and a planning committee
I renovated our wooden window sill and the budget-friendly result looks great