RADIANT FLOOR HEATING: A Good Retrofit for an Older Home?
Radiant floor heating is becoming an increasingly popular choice for new homes. It may be the new norm for anyone putting in a new floor, but the concept of an underfoot-heating system dates back to the Romans.
Would this “new/old” heating system be a good upgrade for your home? If your home is older, it may have its charms. But it may not be the most energy-efficient of dwellings. Consider that about 70% of U.S. residential heating costs can be attributed to houses built before 1983.
Radiant floor heating offers a higher level of efficiency than most traditional systems. Heat rises, and placing air vents on the ceiling or even baseboards results in significant energy waste. On the other hand, radiant floors, unlike forced-air systems, generate heat where it can be most efficient.
So, though costly to install, a new radiant floor system can be cost-effective in the long run. Whether it is electric, hot-air or water-fed, radiant flooring transfers heat so effectively that it requires less energy to operate than other HVAC products that depend on ductwork to channel heated air between rooms.
In addition to saving money on energy costs, radiant floor heating offers these benefits:
* Even Heating: In-floor heating is evenly distributed, providing the glow of an “everywhere” warmth. No more intermittent temperature spikes from room to room, or fussing with thermostats. And you can regulate your warmth by heating your floors during your provider’s off-peak hours, and releasing that warmth slowly over the course of the day.
* Quiet Heating: No more clanks, pops and clicks that characterize electric, forced-air or water-fed baseboard heating. Radiant floors are virtually silent.
* Hypoallergenic Heating: Radiant floors release no harmful allergens and are as easy to clean as standard flooring. By contrast, forced-air systems can harbor and transmit dust mites that adversely affect asthmatic homeowners. To some extent, hard-to-clean baseboards can also pose the same threat.
* Flexibility in Furniture Placement: Because heat distribution is embedded in the floor, your radiant system affords more and greater options for situating your furniture around your rooms.
Radiant floor heating, to be sure, also has its drawbacks, and you should consider these before going through the expense and effort of upgrading to a new system.
One is that, because the thermal mass of floors can be large, it takes longer to heat or cool them, making timed temperature changes more difficult. You may not be able to regulate your system downward during nighttime hours.
Another is that you will have a more limited choice of flooring materials. Carpets and rugs that insulate the floor will decrease the response time of the system and may cause cracks on solid wood floors.
Yet another is that the absence of ductwork will make air-conditioning with a traditional central-air system more difficult.
For more information about Radiant Floor Heating, call the industry-leading green-energy pros at Tragar: (516) 221-2559