Radiant floor heating has been the choice of a growing number of customers over the years, and comfort is by far the most important reason. There are contractors and manufacturers who sell their systems based on the idea it is more efficient to operate than other methods, which is unfortunate and quite often untrue.
While it is true that radiant floor systems operate at much lower temperatures than radiators and warm air systems, the requirement to heat the mass of the home as well as the air space in it dictates a higher need for energy. Imagine for a moment that you need to heat a cup of water without heating the cup. If this scenario was a forced air system, then heating the same water in a radiant floor system would be like heating the same cup of water where the cup is made of concrete.
We know that efficiency of the heating system is greatly determined by insulation and construction of the home, and in particular how much heat the building loses. The net energy to heat a home with a heat loss of 50,000 Btu/hr is the same regardless of heating choice. It is the selection of heating transfer, equipment efficiency and system design which ultimately makes the difference between the gross energy needed to provide the net heating output, but it is the gross energy input which we pay for.
Many customers ‘moving up’ to radiant floor heated houses have typically moved from other homes with less comfortable heating systems, which is often the driving force for selecting radiant floor. Once that constant warmth is felt, customers tend to have the heat on more, quite the contrast from other systems which get turned on and off as needed. This is one of the key determinants in the amount of energy consumed in radiant floor heated homes. As such, comfort requires expense.
In today’s changing world of energy reduction it is wise to invest in higher efficiency equipment, and consider simpler options such as wearing a sweater or turning down thermostats. The days of basking in 80℉ in shorts and tee shirt indoors when the winds of winter are howling outside are running out. Radiant floor heating provides a way of being comfortable and cost efficient. System design and component selection greatly affect how efficient and comfortable a system is.
We have been designing and installing radiant floor and a variety of hot water heating systems for the last 30 years. Our expertise can build the system you want, or help you troubleshoot and rectify a system you are having problems with. As this site develops, we will look at the pros and cons of various options and design concepts. Happy Heating!