Radiant floor heating, or underfloor heating is an energy efficient and practically invisible method of heating your home. If you’re remodeling an existing home, adding the finishing touches to your new home’s plans, or just dreaming a little, radiant floor heating is worth knowing about.
What is it?
This type of flooring can be found as far back as the Romans who invented this method of heating their marble floors. With this method, heat is conducted through the surface of the floor instead of through the air.
How does it work?
Most radiant flooring falls under two types: hydronic, heating through hot water pipes, and electric, heating through electric wires. Both types of underfloor heating are buried under the floor. An electric radiant floor heating system is more cost-effective and easier to install, but tends to be more expensive in the long run while the hydronic radiant floor heating system is more expensive and difficult at installation and less expensive to operate. How to choose? The rule of thumb is that electric works better for smaller areas while hydronic is more efficient for larger areas or the entire house.
Pros and Cons
Because heat rises, radiant floor heating is an energy efficient way to make certain that you stay warm. With more traditional Western heating methods, heat often gets trapped near the ceiling, or in houses that aren’t sealed well the heat escapes outside. Underfloor heating systems can be tricky to install in an existing floor, you will need to tear up the entire floor to install it. There are a few other options if you want the benefits of radiant floor heating but don’t want to go through the pains of installation in an existing house. Electric radiant pads are one of these options and worth exploring a bit more.
Stone, ceramic tiles, and concrete all work very well with radiant floor heating. Wood floors might not work so well, but talk to your custom home builder about your options if you just can’t live without a hardwood floor and radiant floor heating, there are still some ways to make this work. Vinyl and laminate flooring, as well as carpeting do not work very well with the necessary heat flow.