Modern technology has helped homeowners find all-new, innovative ways to heat their homes when the outside temperatures start to dip. Of course, with the constantly increasing costs of heating, people who are remodeling or updating their home heating systems are always on the lookout for options that are both energy and cost-efficient.
Electric radiant heating is one increasingly popular option embraced by homeowners who love a nice warm floor, or who need something to take the chill out of the air, without having to fire up the forced air furnace on a brisk fall evening.
If you are in the middle of a major renovation or remodeling project, and you are looking for a convenient way to warm your floors and ambient air temperature, then you might want to take a closer look into having an electric radiant heating system installed into your floors.
What Is Radiant Heating?
The heat energy you feel when you walk into a warm room or just step outside on a sunny day is actually infrared radiation. Radiant Heating systems are designed to warm your floors from underneath in a way that emits more infrared heat energy into the room. This starts with warming the floors themselves, and then the transfer of the floor that heats into the surrounding air in the room.
Since heat rises the warmth at the floor gradually heats the room consistently. This means you don’t end up with the stratified heat that you get with traditional forced-air furnaces and other heating systems where the hot air pools at the ceiling and your floors still feel cold to your feet.
How Does Radiant Heating Work?
An energy-efficient radiant heating system produces heat via special coils or tubes that are installed underneath your flooring. They act like a sophisticated resistor that warms up as a controlled current passes through them. As the flooring heats the natural process of convection causes warm air to rise, and circulate through the room without fans or any other type of forced air current.
A sophisticated thermostat control allows you to adjust the temperature of the floors, and ultimately the entire room. A typical living room or bedroom can be thoroughly heated in roughly 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size and the initial temperature of the room.
What Type Of Flooring Works Best With An Electric Radiant Heating System?
With proper installation, you can install radiant heating under just about any type of flooring material. This includes wood, tile, stone, and even carpeting, as well as vinyl, and laminate flooring. Though you do need to carefully follow the installation instructions and make sure that the heating components are installed according to all applicable safety codes. This is why most people opt to have an electric radiant heating system installed by a licensed contractor.
How Much Does Radiant Floor Heating Cost To Install?
The average electric radiant floor heating system costs roughly $15 to $25 per square foot to install. Though labor costs are also a factor. Usually, the best time to install radiant floor heating is when the floor is already ripped out as part of a remodeling project. This means that for a small room like your average main floor bathroom, an electric radiant heating system would cost around $500 to $700 to install.
Can Electric Radiant Heating Be Installed In A Bathroom?
While some people fear the potential dangers of mixing water and electricity, radiant heating systems are frequently installed in bathrooms where tile floors are typically cold in the fall and winter months. The safety components of a professional installation job prevent direct interaction between any of the radiant heating systems electronic components and any ambient moisture in the bathroom.
Are Radiant Heating Systems Energy-Efficient?
The United States Department of Energy notes that radiant floor heating is more efficient than other common systems, including forced-air furnaces and electric baseboard heating. This is due in part to the way traditional HVAC systems have to push heated air through ducts, which translates into a modest amount of energy loss from the point where the heat is produced in the furnace until it comes out of a heat vent in a more distant part of the home.
Essentially with forced-air furnaces, you are losing a lot of heat energy to the conduction of having to heat the ventilation system itself. This also means that the amount of heat loss is greater in poorly insulated homes or during times of extreme cold.
The Different Types Of Radiant Heating
There are three main types of radiant heating systems to consider. Each has its own strengths and potential weaknesses. They are Air-heated, Electric, and Hydronic.
Air-Heated Radiant Heating Systems
Air-Heated radiant heating systems essentially force warm air through tubes under your flooring. Most of these systems are connected to some type of solar heating system, which makes them energy and cost-efficient to operate, though you do have to keep in mind the cost to install and maintain the companion solar panels.
Electric Radiant Heating Systems
Electric systems are the most popular kind of radiant heating system. They use special cables that run underneath your floors. These systems do cost more than air-heated solar systems as they have an electrician connection. Though they tend to have a lifespan of up to 35 years and are still more energy efficient than any type of forced air or electric baseboard heating system.
Hydronic Radiant Heating System
Hydronic radiant heating systems use hot water that is circulated through a system of pipes or tubes installed under the flooring. The water is heated by a boiler, which does require an initial energy investment but is still very energy efficient. Though you don’t get the ability to change the temperature in different rooms and it can sometimes take time for the water in the system to heat up and cool down when you first start the system in the fall or turn it off in the spring.
What Kind Of Energy Savings Does A Radiant Heating System Provide?
Depending on the type of radiant heating system you have installed and the thermal efficiency of your home, you can expect to save between 10 to 15% off your home heating bills from the fall through the spring. When you consider that most electric radiant heating systems have a lifespan of up to 35 years or more, this savings can add up to the point that the system will easily show a robust return on your investment in the long term.