Oct 05 2007
Is Radiant Floor Heating For You?
Radiant Floor Heating seems all the rage lately, but how does it work? Why is it used in green and energy efficient homes? And is it a better choice than a Forced Hot Air system?
Radiant Floor Heating can be installed under any type of floor but slab, tile, and masonry floors are the best because they store heat most efficiently. Hardwood floors also work well with a Radiant Floor Heating System, but carpet should be avoided because it essentially insulates the floor, reducing the heat that enters the room.
Radiant Floor Heating systems are often used in energy efficient homes because they can heat a house more efficiently than a Forced Hot Air system when paired with an efficient boiler. Pumping water to distribute heat (radiant heating) requires less energy than blowing air (forced-air).
Furthermore, radiant heat allows you to set the thermostat lower and achieve the same comfort since your body is in direct contact with the heat source (the floor). And, one should not exclude mentioning the luxurious feeling of stepping out of the shower or walking in bare feet on a warm floor.
Forced Hot Air Systems, on the other hand, blow hot air until the desired room temperature is met but does not account for a cold floor or drafty windows so your perception of warmth is less than it would be with radiant heat.
One more drawback of a Forced Hot Air system is that hot air rises to the ceiling, so if you don’t have a way to circulate the air, the room’s occupants can’t enjoy the warmth.
But with all of its benefits, a Radiant Heating System may not be ideal if you must have air conditioning in your home. This is because a separate cooling/ventilation system is required. While radiant cooling systems that share the same piping as radiant heating systems are possible, they are not typically recommended due to their tendency to form condensation within the space, which can lead to damp & slippery floors as well as mold growth.
As with all heating systems, considering your specific needs first is most important. Radiant floor heating is great for indoor air quality and energy efficiency but depending on the features of your home and typical usage, it may not be for you.