Radiant Floor Heat: A New Way to Stay Warm

With the summer gone and winter fast approaching, it may be time to reconsider your heating options. People traditionally use boilers and furnaces to keep their homes warm, but there is a new way: radiant floor heat. Unlike traditional heaters, this method does not force warm air through vents into your rooms, and therefore, does not kick up irritating allergens and spread them throughout your home.

If it doesn’t blow warm air, how does it work?

Instead of blowing an enormous amount of hot air through ducts in your home, these systems provide the warmth directly to the ground that you walk on. This methodology works due to the properties of convection and radiant heat transfer.

Convection is the operative term for a concentrated flow of molecules through either a liquid or gas. You have probably heard this term associated with ovens and frozen food. Much like your oven, the warmth is supplied from the bottom. This property achieves a natural flow of warm air in your home as the hot air from the ground rises.

Systems that provide radiant floor heat also rely on the properties of radiant warmth transfer. This property operates via infrared radiation. As the room gets hotter, the warmth is transferred to the people and furniture inhabiting it. Have you felt the warmth of a hot stove top from across the room? Then you have already experienced radiant warmth transfer!

I know that warming the ground you walk upon sounds expensive, but there are a number of financial benefits to using one of these systems. First, they are more efficient than forced-air and baseboard systems, and they use a small amount of electricity. Some of these systems can also be run off wood, oil, gas, or solar energy. There are three main types of ground warming systems. Let’s explore the different options available to the consumer.

Air Systems

Forced-air systems pump hot air through the ground. These systems are highly inefficient since air does not retain warmth well. This fact drives up the cost, and as a result, they are seldom used in the residential setting. They can be very efficient if partnered with a solar panel; however, this is only an advantage while the sun is shining.

Electric Systems

These systems rely on a series of wires being placed in the ground. A conductive top also needs to be put over them to transfer the warmth. This method is only effective if you have a large thermal mass on top of your wires. You will also need an electrical provider that offers time-of-use rates since this particular method requires a lot of electricity. Time-of-use rates allow you to use a lot of electricity during off-peak hours for a lesser charge. This rate needs to be partnered with a large slab of concrete or other significant thermal mass, and you will be able to store enough warmth to last for more than ten hours.

Hydronic Systems

This is the most popular and effective method of providing radiant floor heat. It is also the most cost-effective of all the aforementioned systems. A hydronic system operates by pumping hot water through a pattern of tubing laid in the ground. If you want to adjust the temperature of an individual room, you can do so via the thermostat.

Find out how much money you could save on your energy bills by switching to a hydronic system!