If you’re frustrated by high heating bills, or if some parts of your house are colder than others, heated flooring may be the solution. Radiant floor heating can maintain a more consistent temperature, but it’s not right for every home or situation.
What Is Radiant Floor Heating?
Radiant heating warms the floor in a room, unlike a forced-air system, which warms the air. A radiant heating system can eliminate temperature fluctuations that can make you feel warm in one area and cold in another.
The temperature in your home is often controlled via thermostat. If you install a radiant heating system, you may be able to set your thermostat to a lower temperature and still feel comfortable because the house won’t have some areas that are colder than others.
Since radiant heating systems don’t use a furnace, they are quiet. They don’t use air ducts and vents, which means they can’t spread allergens throughout a house. They’re also more energy efficient than other types of heating systems. Installing radiant heating can raise the height of the floor by about half of an inch.
What Are the Differences Between Electric and Hydronic Radiant Heating?
An electric radiant heating system has electric heating elements that are laid under the floor. This type of system is relatively easy to install and can be a simple DIY project. An electric heating system can quickly warm a room and the temperature can be adjusted manually or controlled with a programmable or smart thermostat. Electric heating systems require little maintenance.
A hydronic floor heating system uses plastic tubes and hot water to heat the floor. A hydronic heating system warms up more slowly than an electric system. A hydronic system may have to be left on all the time, which can lead to higher energy usage.
A hydronic heating system is more expensive to install than an electric floor heating system, but the upfront cost may be worth it if you install hydronic heating throughout your entire house. Maintenance and repairs for a hydronic heating system can be more complex than those for an electric system.
When and Where Should Radiant Heating Be Installed?
It’s generally better to install a radiant heating system when a house is being constructed. It’s possible to install radiant heating later on, but that will make the project more complex and expensive, especially if you want a hydronic system.
Tile flooring often feels cold. Radiant heating can be a good choice for areas with tile floors, such as kitchens and bathrooms, but it can be used in rooms with any type of flooring. Heated flooring is also a good choice for areas above an unheated garage or crawlspace. Radiant heating may or may not be a good choice to heat an entire house.
If you’re interested in using radiant heating in all or part of your home, get in touch with a local contractor. Discuss the pros and cons of each system, find out if one would work well in your house and get an estimate.