Radiant Floor Heating Systems

Is Radiant Floor Heating More Efficient Than Baseboard heating Or Forced-Air Heating?

It’s a fairly well-known fact that radiant floor heating systems, also known as underfloor heating systems, are an efficient and comfortable alternative to traditional heating options. It involves underlying your floor with tubing or hot elements that can transfer heat to the entire room through convection and radiation. This eliminates the need for forced warm air.

The Department of Energy’s website (Energy Savers) reveals that radiant heating has more benefits than other forms of floor heating alternatives. It’s more efficient than forced-air heating as no energy is lost through ducts. According to energy experts, radiant heating is flexible because it can run off of different energy sources including wood, gas, oil, and solar or a combination of these energy sources. Besides, radiant heating is an excellent choice for people with severe allergies as no irritating particles are blown into the room.

Radiant Floor Heating vs Baseboard Heating

Wondering what to choose between radiant floor heating and baseboard heating? We’ll compare these two heating systems based on several features:

1. Heat distribution: Radiant floor heating systems come in two types. The first is a hydronic system that uses a boiler which is centrally located to produce heat and transfer it through a tubing. The other option is an electric coil system which uses heating coils that are located beneath the floor. Electric systems are best used in smaller areas like near the bathroom vanity whereas hydronic systems are most ideal for heating larger spaces like the entire house. Generally, radiant heating systems take a longer time to heat the entire room. However, once the heat spreads throughout the home, the space remains warm for a longer time. On the other hand, baseboard systems are often used to distribute heat only where it’s needed.

2. Installation cost: With baseboard heating, the cost of installation is much lower for electric systems compared to water-based systems. In fact, electric baseboard heaters cost significantly less than radiant floor heating systems. Should you choose the boiler-powered baseboard systems, expect to pay a lot more for installation.

3. Floor covering: Baseboard heaters are very flexible and can be used on any type of flooring without worrying about the heat output. Although radiant floor heating can be used on different kinds of floor coverings including carpet and wood, it is mostly recommended on man-made floors such as tile and laminate to give maximum heat output.

Radiant floor heating vs air-forced heating

When comparing radiant floor heating and air-forced heating, one of the factors to consider is how heat distribution occurs using these systems. With air-forced heating systems, air travels through a series of tubes and this makes the system prone to air leakage which reduces its efficiency. As the heat rises, the basement and floors are left cold. The other downside of using air-forced heating systems is that blowing air stirs up allergens within the home and may result in serious health concerns. Additionally, air-forced heating is noisy so it may not be a suitable option for living spaces.

Radiant floor heating on the other hand is known to offer more even heat distribution. These systems can use electricity, hot water, or air that transfers heat via infrared radiation. Most systems are often installed beneath floor coverings and add supplemental heat to cooler rooms. Unlike air-forced heating systems, radiant heat doesn’t distribute allergens into the room. It also offers quiet operation and is more energy-efficient. However, radiant heat is expensive if you want to install it for the whole house. Unlike the air-forced heating systems which act as HVAC systems that heats and cools, radiant floor heating systems only provide heat.

Aspects Of Radiant Heating That Make It More Efficient

Various aspects of radiant heating make it more energy efficient than other floor heating options. The even heat distribution over the entire floor heats the lower half of the entire room, providing enough warmth for the inhabitants. In some cases, the room gets heated up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than most conventional heating options.

Radiators and other ‘point’ heating options circulate heat inefficiently, and that means the system must run for a long time to provide the desired temperature level. The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet) argues that radiators draw cold air across the floor and send the heated air up to the ceiling. This warm air falls and warms the entire room from the top down. However, this heating option circulates dust and allergens across the room. RESNet also argues that the radiant systems distribute heat 15% more efficiently as compared to the conventional radiators.

You can significantly magnify the efficiency gains associated with radiant systems with a suitable insulation and a perfectly-designed system. Replacing a decent flooring or tearing out an old heating system is an overkill for the sake of installing a radiant heating system. However, if you’re embarking on a new construction project or you intend to renovate your property, you should certainly consider it.

TLC Network’s Green Living Guide reveals that radiant heating can be placed into two categories: electrical and hydronic. With an electric radiant system, wires installed in the floor get heated and then radiate heat upward. It’s commonly used to retrofit one room such as bathroom or kitchen in an old building. Hydronic radiant heating involves forcing heated water through tubes installed under the floor. These pipes should be fixed during construction.

Why Radiant Floor Heating?

Radiant heat is more efficient in small homes with low roofs. Besides, it’s the greenest heating solution in homes with big rooms. Consider consulting with a reputable heating professional to determine if radiant heating is the most effective heating solution in your property.

It’s also wise to pair your radiant heating system with an EnergySTAR-approved thermostat (programmable). It can save you hundreds of dollars on your heating bills while keeping your home warm all year long.