Radiant Heating Systems For Homes
With hydronic radiant floor heating, you can enjoy an energy efficient Home that will eliminate cold feet, create a healthier living environment and significantly lower your utility bills. Hydronic heating is a comfortable and cost efficient method of heating used in homes and buildings today. It can be incorporated into almost any type of home or building, utilizing traditional and renewal energy sources. Hydronic radiant systems circulate water through tubing, convectors, radiators and fan coils to warm the surfaces of a building. There are many advantages to heating a building using water, creating an optimal experience of comfort:
- Surfaces within the space are heated rather than the air itself
- Heat is evenly distributed throughout the space to provide maximum comfort, thus eliminating hot or cold spots
- There is less circulation of dust and particles, which can cause allergies
- Hydronic heating systems eliminate fan noises and stop/start sounds typical of a forced air furnace and ductwork system, which promotes a clean and quiet living space
- Floor temperature is set to optimal level of comfort
- Additional features may include domestic hot water, snow melting and pool heating, increasing the system efficiency, from a single heat source
The benefits of Hydronic Radiant Heating
Radiant heating systems exceed the performance, efficiency, and comfort of Forced Air heat – except on initial price. Do the benefits of radiant heating systems outweigh the price premium? Western Europe shows that hydronic radiant heated floors are 90% of their more mature and advanced Home heating market. America is less than 10% radiant heat now, but that figure has doubled and is growing fast.
Comfort and health are priceless, energy savings are a bonus. The market is not shifting to radiant simply because it is less costly to operate, the driver is people want even heat, silent, draft-free, and without blowing dust and contaminants over us.
The Basics of Radiant Heating
Warm floors begin with either a boiler consuming natural gas , electricity or wood. Connected to the heater is the radiant distribution system, customized to meet various preferences. Typically hot water is circulated through PEX tubing embedded in concrete underneath the floor’s surface, acting as a thermal mass or distributed to baseboard or wall radiators.
Designing an hydronic Heating System
In Thermodynamic principles, heating comfort comes from ultra-low temperature distribution over a very large area like floors, ceilings, or walls. Designers should use hydronic water supply temperatures below 100 F and better below 90 F, using closer spaced PEX pipe loops and slower pump flows to maximize comfort and lower operating costs.
Globally we are in transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The trends include a path to Net Zero Energy homes with super-insulated envelopes that require very small capacity heating systems – much smaller than a routine gas furnace can go. Savvy Builders wishing to set themselves apart with a better than Code efficiency, find SunPump fits well with a DC modulating hydronic heat source for Carbon-free radiant heating and hot water at the same cost or less than a gas furnace and water heater.
Radiant Heating Comfort and Health Benefits
Radiant heat comes from infrared wavelength transmission, it heats the objects and the people in the room, rather than just the air or the room itself. “With radiant floors or walls, everything in the room is that specific temperature,” says John Siegenthaler the Industry expert from Appropriate Designs. “You’re comfortable. You can sit by the window or door and not feel a draft.”
Radiant floor systems heat the space for a cost 30-50% less than forced air. This is because water has the second highest specific heat capacity of all materials, about 30 times higher than air, plus it takes 8 times less power to push BTUs through a pipe than the same amount through a duct. A furnace fan can use $650 year electricity compared to $80 for a hydronic pump. While the expense of an effective Radiant Heating system may cost more than a Forced Air heating system, the owner will be reaping the comfort and health benefits for years to come, with a payback on the incremental cost.