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Radiant Floor Heating: A Good Option for You?

Heat rises; so no matter how warm your home is, the floor is the first place that becomes drafty and cold. A familiar scenario: stepping out of bed in the morning, half asleep, and stumbling around for your slippers to avoid stepping on a cold floor. Radiant floor heating sounds wonderful, but is it a good option for you?

Radiant floor heaters come in hydronic or electric heating options and can be installed under carpet, wood, tile, or stone floorings. Read about both options below to get a better idea of which choice is best for your home.

Hydronic Systems- 90% of the time, hydronic systems are chosen over electric when radiant heat is the sole heating source for whole house. One reason is that hydronic systems are generally less expensive to install in large areas than electric. These systems use a boiler to create hot water, which is then pumped through plastic pipes embedded in a concrete slab. The warmth of the water conducts warmth to the surface of the floor. The hydronic system costs approximately $2 to $5/sq ft. Because hydronic pumps can be powered by any fuel source, they are useful in areas off of the power grid, and are preferable for solar or geothermal heating.

Electric Systems- Although hydronic systems are better for whole-house heating, electric systems are more affordable and efficient for spot-heating, or just one room at a time. Hydronic systems are installed approximately 2” below the surface in concrete and will take about 6-7 hours to heat up for the first time. Because of this, they tend to be left on for longer periods of time, whereas electric systems are installed in the sub-floor and will begin heating a room within 30 to 60 minutes. Thus, hydronic systems cost more to run over time. An electric radiant system costs between $400-$700 for an average-sized bathroom.

Although radiant systems tend to be more expensive than forced-air heating, they offer enough benefits to outweigh the additional cost. Radiant floor heating systems are typically 20-40% more energy efficient that forced air systems. Because they radiate heat and do not push air, other statistics show up to an 80% reduction in dust mites and other air pollutants. Additionally, they can be powered by natural gas, propane, wood, electric, solar, or geothermal energy sources; this allows the homeowner to choose the most energy efficient option.

Whether you have small children, pets, or just want a warm and inviting environment, a radiant system provides unlimited spa-like comfort. If you are considering the installation of a radiant floor-heating system, request a free estimate today from one of our certified contractors in your area.

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