Radiators and heating vents are fine and dandy, but what about having heat emanate from the floor itself? Radiant floor heating can be tricky to install, but many homeowners love the feeling of warm stone beneath their feet in the wintertime. Read on to find out if a heated floor is right for you.
Why Bother With Heated Floors?
There are a number of potential advantages for going for radiant floor heat. For one thing, many people enjoy the way it warms up the house versus traditional options. Heat rises, so when it starts at the bottom it warms the whole room on the way up.
Floor heating is efficient, which can help cut your winter heating bills, especially with hydronic or liquid-based equipment. Some homeowners also find they are comfortable with the thermostat dropped down an additional degree or two with floor heating than they would be with a forced-air or radiator system, because the heat is better distributed.
Some people also find the heat to be less irritating to their allergies than a traditional furnace because there are no ducts to accumulate and distribute dust and particles. You also avoid noisy radiators, drafty vents and the sound of a furnace turning on and off. If that’s not enough, think of the savings on your yearly sock budget.
How Does it Work?
There are two main options for floor heating — hydronic panels and electric panels. Hydronic panels use hot water to warm your floor, and usually cost more to install but less to operate. Electric panels rely on wires and are simpler and cheaper at the outset but more expensive in the long run. For that reason, people tend to lean toward electric panels if they are only heating a small portion of their floor, but go for hydronic for large areas or the entire house.
Floor heat works best with stone or tile floor materials, because wood is prone to warping from the change in temperature. Plastic and linoleum can also be damaged by the heat, although there are ways to make floor heating work with wood or synthetics if you have an experienced contractor. It’s generally not a good idea to put a carpet over a heated floor, because it can simply trap the heat and keep it from circulating through the room.
Install Mine Today!
So is it worth the money? Installation prices can cost anywhere from $6 to $15 per square foot — not including tearing up the old floor and laying down a new one.
If you hate socks and are building a house from scratch or already planning to replace your floor, radiant floor heating may make sense. However, if you have to take up your floor and replace it solely for the purpose of installing your new foot-level heating system, the cost may not be worthwhile.
Consult an experienced HVAC specialist who can assess your home, give you an estimate and help you decide if radiant floor heating is right for you.