Reduce Energy Costs
Radiant floor heating is arguably the ideal home heating system for today’s new home construction. With a history that stretches back to the Roman Empire and ancient Asia, radiant heating is not some novel idea. It’s a smart concept that now, thanks to advances in technology, offers today’s homeowners unprecedented comfort and efficiency.
Radiant heat is a highly efficient way to heat a house, increasing comfort as it reduces energy costs. In a radiant heat system, the warmth is supplied by hot-water tubes or electric wires buried underneath the floor. With radiant heat, the warm air rises evenly over the entire floor and heats objects it strikes such as furniture, drapes and people.
With forced hot-air systems, the kind found in most American homes, warm air blows out of the registers and rises to the top of the room where it quickly drops back down as it cools. Your head is warm, but your feet are cold.
Radiant heat is quiet and clean. Unlike forced hot air systems, there’s no radiators clanking or hissing as they start up or vents blowing dust and allergens around.
There are three types of radiant floor heat — radiant air floors where air is the heat-carrying medium; electric radiant floors, and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors.
Radiant Air Systems are not cost-effective for residential use since air cannot hold large amounts of heat. Due to recent innovations in floor technology, so-called “dry” floors in which the cables or tubing run in an air space beneath the floor, have been gaining in popularity, mainly because a dry floor is faster and less expensive to build. But because dry floors involve heating air space, the radiant heating system will need to operate at a higher temperature.
Electric Radiant floors typically consist of electric cables built into the floor. Because of the relatively high cost of electricity, electric radiant floors are usually only cost-effective if they include a significant thermal mass such as a thick concrete floor and your electric utility company offers time-of-use rates.
Hot-water “hydronic” systems—the most popular and cost effective way to heat an entire house—circulate water from a boiler or water heater through loops of 1/2-inch polyethylene tubing.
Hot-water radiant heating system costs more to install than other types of heating systems, but once it’s up and running, a radiant system can be up to 30 percent more efficient than forced-air heating, depending on how well insulated a house is. And there’s no comparison when it comes to comfort.