When you think about having cold feet, you probably picture someone who is apprehensive about getting married, but ever notice how cold your feet get in the winter? Walking around in the snow all day and on the cold floors in your home, it seems like your feet will never get warm. The problem is that the heat for your home probably runs off an old forced air furnace system. The air blowing out of the vents heats the air in the rooms of your home, but the floors still remain chilled. However, if you had a radiant floor heating system, cold floors would be unheard-of in your home!
What is Radiant Floor Heating?
A radiant floor heating system can be either electric or hydronic meaning it either uses electricity or hot water to generate heat for your home. These systems work similarly to a boiler with radiators or baseboards, but instead of having a radiator, the pipes or cords are hidden under the floor. An electric system will have cords that are imbedded in a kind of mesh fiberglass mat, and a hydronic system will use pipes filled with water and a circulating pump attached to the main boiler system. As the water or the cords heat up, heat is radiated to the floor and up through the objects in the room. This effectively heats a home. This is a type of system that every homeowner should consider for many reasons. These are some of the many benefits that come from installing a radiant floor heating system:
- Flexible Application- Radiant floor heating systems can be customized to fit the different types of flooring that you already have in your home. From tile to hard wood to carpet, there is a floor heating system that can work for you. Also, you can use it in as many or as few rooms in your home as you desire.
- Individual Comfort- Radiant floor heating systems can be zoned. Depending on the system, you can hook up individual thermostat to various parts of the home. Each family member will be able to set their personal comfort levels without disturbing the comfort of other family member.
- Heat Distribution- This type of system heats objects in a room rather than the air like a forced air system. Forced air systems blow hot air into the room. The heat rises to the ceiling leaving the floor relatively cold. The temperature difference from the floor to the ceiling with a forced air system can vary greatly. In a radiant floor system, the floor is the warmest area and the temperature difference between the floor and the ceiling is only about 2 to 4 degrees. You get more evenly distributed heat without the drafts associated with forced air systems.
- Efficiency- Due to even heat distribution, these systems can often be run at much lower temperatures than forced air systems. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers states that radiant floor systems can be set 6-8 degrees lower than a forced air system and still achieve the same level of comfort. Depending on how the system is being used, they are usually 20-40% more efficient than other more traditional heating systems.
- Variety- Hydronic radiant floor heating systems can be hooked up to nearly any type of water heating system. Gas powered water heaters, boilers, electric boilers, wood burning boilers, heat pumps, solar collectors, and geothermal systems are all options that can be employed to heat the water that is transferred through the system. The more energy efficient the heater is, the more energy efficient your entire floor system will be.
- Reduction of Allergens- Since radiant floor heating systems eliminate the need to circulating air through duct work, you eliminate 50-80% of dust mites and other allergens that would normally circulate through a forced air system.
- No Vents or Radiators- Due to the heating elements being hidden under the floor, there is no need to adjust the furniture to allow room for vents or radiators to distribute heat freely.
With all of these benefits and more it is a wonder that these systems are not more popular. The main reason for this is the fact that forced air systems are a very cheap and easy option for contractors to install in new builds. Most homeowners don’t think to convert once the homes original system fails, but hopefully all of these benefits at least make you consider radiant floor heating the next time you purchase a heating system for your home.