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  • Writer's pictureBob Condon

Radiant Floor Heating

radiant floor heating
A Recent Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating System installed by BBC Mechanical

Radiant heating systems bring heat directly to the floors or walls. In most homes, radiators are positioned throughout the house along the room’s edges. Heating rooms depend on the heat from the radiators to spread throughout the room. Larger rooms or rooms with inefficient insulation take longer to heat. The longer a room takes to heat, the longer the furnace has to run, which can get very expensive, especially when oil prices are higher than they have been in a long time.

When you have radiant heating, the heat is delivered to all areas of a room at once. The middle parts of a space don’t have to wait for the heat from the radiator. Radiant heating is far more efficient than regular radiators, which means you will save money.

We mentioned the cost savings of a more efficient system. Radiant heating is also more efficient than forced-air heating since the heat still has to travel through air ducts, and some of that heat is lost in the transfer of the air. Air ducts are also a concern when it comes to allergies. Forced-air systems are notorious for spreading allergens throughout a home.

Radiant heating eliminates all of these concerns. As we mentioned, heat is brought directly to all areas of a room, even the hard-to-reach places. There are also no air ducts, eliminating another energy-loss source and higher heating prices. The air in your home is also much cleaner since the allergens are not being blown all over.

So, the argument has been made for radiant heating systems to help save money and have cleaner air. So, the next question is, “what are the different types of radiant heating?”

Air heated systems

With air-heated systems, the air is heated through air collectors on, preferably, a south-facing roof. The heated air works its way through the system, heating the home’s interior. The problem is that air is a lousy conductor of heat, which dissipates quickly. In addition, the system depends on solar radiation. Much like your solar panels, when there are clouds in the sky, the system doesn’t generate anything. The rotation of the Earth also works against you with these systems as no heat is generated at night. So whatever benefit you may have during the day, you will still be dependent on other forms of heating at night when homes are generally colder.

Electric radiant floors

Electric radiant floors consist of heating cables that run throughout the floor. The downside of an electric system is the cost of electricity, which is expensive and rising every year. Have you looked at your electric bill recently? Has your monthly balanced billing increased again this year?

Did you know that, as Long Islanders, our electric bills are still paying off the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, which was decommissioned before it ever generated a single watt of power for anyone?

Solar Panels can offset the cost of electric radiant floor heating systems if your home is equipped. However, unless you have a solar battery to store power, your electric radiant system will draw power from the grid at night.

Hydronic Radiant Floors

The most popular and most efficient radiant system is a hydronic system. A hydronic system has tubing laid out throughout the room on the subfloor, and heated water runs through the system heating the entire room.

The best part of a hydronic system is that it can be fitted to run off of your existing furnace. You may think that may mean you will be spending more on oil or gas to heat your home. However, as we mentioned at the start since the system is bringing the heat directly to every area of the room, rooms are heated faster, so you will be using less energy.

We are huge fans of hydronic radiant floor heating systems as a way to create a more efficient home and as a way to save on heating costs. If you are interested in radiant floor heating, give us a call. We would be happy to provide information and give you a proposal on what it would take to improve your home.

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