Uncovering the ‘Mystery’ of Radiant Floor Heating Systems
Posted 3/17/2014 by Kim Bliss
A couple years ago, our friends installed radiant floor heating in their lake home. When I asked the wife about it, she said she actually feels more comfortable at the lake home set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit than her primary residence (which has a traditional forced-air furnace) at 72 degrees. She confirmed what I’ve heard time and time again from people who have experienced radiant floor heating first-hand (or, should I say, first-foot) – that it’s by far the most comfortable form of heating a home they’ve ever experienced.
So, I’m curious. Why is radiant floor heating still in the minority in the U.S. for heating a home? It’s prevalent in European and Nordic countries that experience frigid climates for more than half the year, but it has yet to gain sweeping popularity in the U.S. – typically concentrating in affluent areas or second-home ski chalets. Maybe it’s because there is this “mystery” around it -- People don’t understand what it is or how it works.
Well, I found a couple videos that help explain the concept of radiant floor heating and how it’s installed to dispel some of the mystery around this very comfortable, and also very energy-efficient, heating system. The concept is actually very simple – flexible plastic tubing (PEX) is installed under the floor and warm water flows through the tubing to warm the floor. This warmth ‘radiates’ up to evenly warm people and objects in a room.
The systems are very compatible with energy-efficient forms of heat sources such as geothermal and solar, and because radiant floor heating doesn’t use blowers like forced-air furnace systems, it doesn’t circulate dust or allergens around a home – which can be particularly important for people with allergies.
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So maybe with a little more understanding and a lot more people experiencing the comfort of radiant heat, there can be a movement toward a more sustainable form of heating a home that actually offers greater comfort to the occupants.