Radiant: Heating Your Home through Concrete
If you are putting concrete flooring in your home, you may want to think about installing a radiant flooring system. This increasingly popular solution can work in basements, garages, or throughout a home. Radiant flooring may serve as a secondary or primary heating solution for both commercial and residential construction, especially in areas with high ceilings. It can provide many benefits over traditional heating solutions, including energy savings and additional comfort.
Types of Radiant Floor Heating Systems
There are three common types of heating systems that are used in radiant floors: electric, hydronic or air. Air is the least used solution, as it generally requires an additional system to be installed in the home, and it is harder to control the temperature using this method. With an air heating system, small air ducts are embedded throughout the flooring and then connected to a forced air heating system.
Electric heating systems use electric panels laid throughout the flooring. It is typically less expensive upfront. This is generally a good choice if electricity is inexpensive in the area or if the building generates its own electricity.
The most common type of radiant floor heating system is a hydronic system, used in over 99% of radiant flooring installations. This employs a system of pipes laid in the flooring that cycle heated water. Water can be heated by any type of heater, electric, oil, natural gas or microwave water heater. Depending on capacity, the water heater can be the same one that is used to supply hot water for the rest of the home. Hydronic radiant flooring systems can be the most efficient, as the temperature of the water can be precisely controlled.
Benefits of Radiant Floor Heating Systems
Heated floors are generally not hot to the touch. Instead, they feel naturally warm and give off a soft heat in all directions. However, when turned on to the maximum level, they can seem to be hot. One of the main advantages is that radiant flooring systems give off a steady stream of heat rather than turning on and off like traditional heating systems, meaning that there are no hot or cool breezes. The heat rises slowly from the floor, much slower than in forced air systems. The warm air radiates in all directions from the floor, heating the whole area evenly.
The most anticipated benefit of radiant floor heating systems is energy and cost savings. Due to the heat being evenly distributed throughout the rooms, rather than concentrated around the heating vents, the overall temperature can usually be lowered by a few degrees while giving the same comfort. Just a few degrees of difference can save up to 40% in energy costs or more. This is particularly true of hydronic radiant floor heating systems, as the costs can be reduced even more depending on the efficiency of the water heating appliance being used.
Other benefits include the hidden nature of radiant floor heating. There are no visible components, such as vents or baseboard heaters, and the system runs silently. No blowing air can be important for people with allergies, as no dust, germs or other allergens are blown through the ducts and into the air. The instant warmth and comfort that can be gained from radiant floor heating systems make them very attractive options for many types of construction.