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In Floor Heating

In Floor Heating

(Updated: Mar 12)

If you are currently renovating your home, you may want to consider adding the luxury of in floor heating. A radiant in floor heat system heats the flooring surface and allows the heat to gradually heat the air above generating a consistent room temperature. When designing, consider multiple heating zones. This allows you to efficiently control the temperature and heat only the areas you using. In our home we have a thermostat in the kitchen, living room and each bathroom that control the heat for each corresponding room.

There are 2 main types of in floor heating, or radiant heating systems available: Electric and Hydronic. In either system tubes of water or electric wires are heated in a wave pattern underneath the floor.

While the best explanation of the difference of a conventional furnace system compared to in floor heating is felt, it can also be seen in the graphic below:

Forced Air Heating vs Radiant Floor Heating infographic
However, regardless of an electronic or hydronic system, the first question you should ask is what the flooring will be in the room. As This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey states when radiant floor heating is used with carpet “especially if it has thick padding underneath“, the floor becomes too well insulated, [and] radiant heating really ­doesn’t make sense. It’s like putting a sweater over a radiator” Richard says.

Electronic Systems

We have installed electronic systems during our own home renovations and have loved the added comfort that this adds to bathroom renovations. Electronic systems keep the installation costs relatively low as they do not require a boiler and a pump to operate. However, while electronic systems can make sense for heating a small space, such as an ensuite, at 6-10 watts of energy usage per square foot per hour makes it prohibitively expensive to heat a whole house.

Hydronic Systems

When you are looking to heat your entire home, or large areas hydronic heating systems may be the solution for you and offer many benefits.

  1. This system is highly efficient and increases your comfort level in your home. Plus, once it’s up and running, a radiant heat system can be up to 30 percent more energy efficient than forced-air heating, depending on how well insulated a house is.
  2. Provides uniform heating, and eliminates cold spots or drafts in your home.
  3. If you have allergies radiant heat may relieve some of your symptoms because it doesn’t distribute allergens like forced air systems can. This can also benefit asthma suffers as well.
  4. No added noise. If your house is busy like ours, with a toddler and active dog, there is enough activity and noise going on. With radiant heating there is no added noise as there is no furnace to kick in and add to the overall noise level of your home.

However, the one main drawback to radiant heating is the initial installation cost. A hydronic system requires a boiler, pump, tubing, heat zone valves and sensors which can all add up to a large bill quickly. In the long run, however, it will save money due to lower thermostat settings and higher efficiency.

Also, unless you can access underneath your existing subfloor easily, such as the main floor of a house with an undeveloped basement, this can mean new flooring. Another thought to consider is if you only add in floor heat in one existing room of your house this will add to the overall floor height and may require additional considerations in terms of transition in flooring from one room to another.

If you are renovating your house, or starting a new build a radiant heat system should be on your must have wish list. The first morning your feet hit the warm tile floor when stepping into your bathroom, or you walk into the kitchen for your first cup of coffee and you are not suddenly jarred awake by the cold feeling of tile on your toes, you will know you made the right investment in your new home.

We are also happy to offer financing to help ease the one major con of a radiant heating system.
Contact us today to plan your radiant home heating solution!

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