Forced air is still the traditional method of heating homes, but radiant heat is gaining significant momentum as an alternative. According to HGTV, the growth rate of in-floor radiant heating systems was estimated at 30 to 50 percent per year.
At the heart of this shift is not just one single benefit. It’s a variety of advantages that radiant floor heating systems bring to the table, the combination of which enhance the daily lives of a home’s occupants:
Even Heat Distribution
When a house is heated by a forced-air system, it will always be warmest near the vents that distribute the air. This can lead to “hotspots” on one end of a room while the other side of the room remains cool. And because hot air rises, upstairs rooms will be warmer than those downstairs.
With radiant floor heating systems, homeowners control how heat circulates in their home. Rather than heating the surrounding air, the heat that radiates from the floor warms other objects in the room and is evenly distributed without the potential for heat loss.
Improved Air Quality
While air pollution is more often associated with the outdoors, indoor air can be dirty as well. Whether it’s dust, pet dander or chemicals from fragrances (among other sources) that pollute the air, forced-air systems exacerbate the problem for allergy sufferers. That’s because the forced, heated air will stir up and mix with these airborne particles.
Since radiant floor heating systems don’t move air to deliver heat, the circulation of indoor particles is minimized. With less pollutants blown around, indoor air quality improves, which benefits allergy sufferers.
The ductwork in forced-air systems further contributes to air pollution. When it’s riddled with cracks and holes, more dust and odors can enter and circulate. Without proper insulation, these same cracks and holes can cause air to leak out of the system and hinder its overall efficiency.
With no ducts, radiant floor heating systems reduce the churn of dust and allergens while curtailing heat loss. The absence of ducts means less work for homeowners as it eliminates the need for repairs like cleaning out ducts clogged with particles or adding insulation when heat loss mounts.
With their uneven distribution of heat and potential for heat loss, traditional heating systems can be energy hogs.
Depending on how well a house is insulated, radiant floor systems can save up to 30 percent compared to forced-air systems. In terms of bills, the impact is quite significant as space heating is the largest energy expense for the average U.S. home, accounting for around 45 percent of energy bills.
Homes should be quiet, but forced-air systems can be noisy as furnaces cycle on and off, gaps in the ductwork whistle and loose parts rattle.
By comparison, radiant floor heating systems are exceptionally quiet.
As consumers learn more about the advantages of radiant heating, its popularity will continue to grow.
Josh Quint is product manager, heating and cooling, for Viega LLC.