Thinking about installing radiant heat? Well, you’re not alone. The technology has already gained wide acceptance with consumers internationally, and though radiant systems haven’t yet become commonplace in the United States, more and more people are making the switch. Why? Radiant heating offers a range of persuasive, real-life benefits, from dramatic energy savings to unparalleled comfort.
If you’re only just now hearing about the technology, make no mistake: Far from being a newfangled idea, radiant heat has existed, in one form or another, for thousands of years. It’s only recently, however, that such systems have profited from advanced engineering to become not only a viable alternative, but also a compelling option with many critical advantages over traditional forced-air.
Infloor hydronic radiant heating installed in a kitchen.
For one thing, compared with a forced-air system, radiant heat operates at least 25% more efficiently, according to a study by Kansas State University and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. There are several reasons why radiant heat consumes less energy (and fewer energy dollars) than the older, increasingly outmoded heating method.
A primary explanation is that radiant systems involve zero ductwork. Notoriously prone to losing air in transit, ducts are often leaky enough to compromise the overall efficiency of a forced-air system by as much as 50%. This heat loss means that you must pay more per month for an inefficient system to make up for this design flaw. In a home with radiant heat, there’s no such heat loss, so the homeowner enjoys much lower bills.
While money savings certainly figures into the growing popularity of radiant heating, it’s by no means the sole factor at play. In fact, for many who convert, comfort outranks operating cost in terms of importance. So even though radiant boasts high efficiency, homeowners are more attracted to the high-quality heat it provides.
Indeed, with warmth delivered at floor level, you get a qualitatively different experience than with a traditional heating method. While forced-air works in a stop-and-start fashion that can lead to uncomfortable temperature swings, radiant systems operate steadily and create even, all-encompassing, “everywhere” warmth. Plus, with no dust-collecting ducts, the technology safeguards indoor air quality. Another humongous difference: Radiant systems are virtually silent.
There’s nothing like the experience of having warm floors!
Unlike traditional systems typically characterized by radiators, baseboards, and vents, radiant always remains out of the way, its parts removed from sight, slotted unobtrusively beneath the floor. Homeowners tend to appreciate the design possibilities afforded by a heating system with none of the usual bulky, unsightly in-room components.
When you opt for radiant technology, you’re doing something more important—improving how the home actually feels. Like any similarly integral process, installing a new heating system entails a number of key considerations, many of which may at first seem intimidatingly complex. In the end, though, it couldn’t be much simpler: Radiant heat means high efficiency and unparalleled comfort for years to come.