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Thousands of Years in the Making, Radiant Heating Arrives

With a history that stretches back to the Roman Empire and ancient Asia, radiant heating is not some newfangled idea. Instead, it's a smart concept that now, thanks to advances in technology, offers today's homeowners unprecedented comfort and efficiency.

Radiant Heating Technology

Photo: warmboard.com

While the origins of radiant floor heating stretch way back into the mists of history, the technology has come of age only in recent years. Today, it works as well as any other traditional system, if not better, and operates at least 25 percent more efficiently than forced-air systems, the most ubiquitous type of heating in the United States. Increasing numbers of consumers are choosing radiant heating, not only for the energy savings it provides, but also for its indoor air quality benefits and its ability to free homeowners from the tyranny of radiators, baseboards, and vents. That said, many wonder why radiant heating isn’t in more American homes, especially considering its popularity abroad (in Europe and Asia, 40 and 80 percent of homes, respectively, are heated by a radiant system). Well, though it may now be a viable product, it didn’t start out that way.

The very first radiant heating systems emerged in the Roman Empire. In the wealthiest citizens’ homes, the walls and floors were buttressed by slim chambers called hypocausts. Fires around the building fed heat into these hypocausts, which in turn heated the interior spaces of the home. Around the same time, on the other side of the globe, the Korean ondol system heated homes by means of cooking fires that transmitted heat from the kitchen to a series of strategically positioned stones. These stones would absorb the heat and slowly radiate it outward. Though primitive compared with the finely tuned, zero-maintenance radiant-heating products available today, the fact that the basic technology has been around for so long speaks to the simple wisdom of its design.

Radiant Heating Technology - Panel Detail

Photo: warmboard.com

In the United States, it was none other than the distinguished architect Frank Lloyd Wright who first introduced the concept of radiant heating to countless Americans. Of course, Wright was ahead of his time in more ways than one, so it was not until decades after his death that radiant heat finally came into focus.

When environmental concerns came to the fore in the 1970s and 1980s, a diverse group of professionals and amateurs began testing out various nontraditional modes of building. In these experimental efforts, the principles of radiant heating were often aligned with solar power. A typical setup would put a concrete floor, painted a dark color, beneath a sunny south-facing window. Throughout the day, the sun would heat the concrete, then as night fell and temperatures dropped, the concrete would radiate heat back into the home. That worked fine for supplemental heat, but it could not heat a whole house through the winter season.

In the next phase of development, radiant heating took a big step toward becoming its own entity, an active system capable of providing heat with or without help from the sun. Ingeniously, hydronic tubes were set into the concrete flooring. Water heated by the boiler could be pumped through the tubes, heating the concrete in the absence of sun. The only problem now was the concrete. Whereas its thermal mass had proved an asset before, it was now making the system sluggish. Not only would the concrete take too long to heat up, but it would also continue to radiate for several hours after the thermostat had been turned down or off.

The answer, Warmboard found, was to combine hydronic tubing with lightweight, highly conductive aluminum. Compared with concrete, aluminum is a staggering 232 times more conductive. So when heated water travels through the hydronic tubing within aluminum panels, the metal swiftly transfers the heat to the home. The panels conduct heat so effectively that they can be used beneath any type of flooring, be it tile, hardwood, or even thick-pile carpeting.

Broadly similar products exist on the market, but Warmboard stands alone in terms of efficiency and conductivity. Put simply, Warmboard requires the least amount of energy of any radiant system to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. It’s estimated that Warmboard can hit the target temperature with water that’s 30 degrees cooler than a competing system would require to achieve comparable results. This efficiency means that your furnace doesn’t need to work as hard, and you save an additional 10 to 20 percent on energy costs—above and beyond what you’re already saving by choosing radiant heat over a traditional system.

It may have taken a few thousand years to get right, but radiant heating has finally arrived.

Photo: warmboard.com

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


What Type of Door Is Best for Your Entryway?

When you're shopping for a new entry door, you've got a lot of decisions to make. But while you're grappling with the right architectural style and finish, don't lose sight of the single most important decision: the material your door will be made of.

How to Choose an Entry Door

Photo: masonite.com

You put a great deal of trust in your front door, counting on it to form a good first impression of your home for any visitor or passerby. For that reason alone, the front door is more important than it’s typically given credit for being. But the fact is that your front door needs to be much more than beautiful. It must also be strong enough to keep out would-be intruders, and it must be durable enough to withstand glaring sun, driving rain, and all the other challenges your local climate might bring. So if you’re seeking to give a fast and dramatic facelift to the facade of your home, be certain that you’re choosing a replacement door that’s up to the task.

Related: New Front Doors Change Everything in 4 Entryway Before-and-Afters

With any investment you make in your home, there are up-front as well as ongoing costs. Entry door selection is no different. In weighing your many options, take the time to understand both the immediate benefits and the long-term requirements of any door you’re considering. There are plenty of factors that affect a door’s appearance, durability, security, and price, but what matters most is the material a door is made of. Choose a door of the right material, and you’re likely to be rewarded with smoother day-to-day operation, minimal annual upkeep, and—more often than not—energy savings.

 

WOOD IS GOOD

How to Choose an Entry Door - Wood

Photo: shutterstock.com

Picture a front door in your mind. What you’re most likely picturing is a wood door. For decades, wood was the only option, and it served homeowners well. Aesthetically pleasing and with a satisfying heft, wood doors are highly versatile, lending themselves to virtually limitless paint and stain possibilities. Because it’s possible to resize a wood door by planing it down, there are many wood doors around the country that have led very long lives, used over and over again in different applications. But for all their merits, wood doors can be problematic, mainly because the material is naturally porous. Wood inevitably expands and contracts along with changes in temperature and humidity, and in some cases, it can warp, cup, or twist. Furthermore, when exposed to moisture, wood doors can fall victim to rot. Homeowners can fend off those threats to the beauty and proper functioning of a wood door, but it takes work. Even though their manufacture has become more sophisticated and their resiliency has improved, wood doors remain sensitive to the environment. If you purchase one, expect to sand, stain, or repaint it every few years—and perhaps more often than that, if you live in area of the country with a wet, humid climate (for example, the South).

 

STEEL IS BETTER

How to Choose an Entry Door - Steel

Photo: masonite.com

Steel doors make up for the shortcomings of wood and boast advantages all their own. For one thing, steel doors are far more durable. That makes them an ideal choice for regions such as the South, where the combination of glaring sun and heavy rainfall would work against the longevity of a wood door. Also, steel doors neither expand nor contract, which means they always open and close smoothly, no matter the time of year. Perhaps best of all, many home experts agree that steel doors provide the greatest amount of security. While critics say steel doesn’t look as good as wood, new designs from industry leaders like Masonite are changing that perception. Masonite steel doors, available at The Home Depot, feature deep, high-definition decorative panels that closely mimic the look of high-end wood doors—without the maintenance that wood requires. Plus, with Masonite doors, homeowners can choose from an array of glass inserts that can make a steel door even more eye-catching. Considering that steel doors insulate better than wood, it’s a pleasant surprise that steel doors are often the most affordable option!

 

FIBERGLASS IS BEST

How to Choose an Entry Door - Fiberglass

Photo: shutterstock.com

The newest material for entry doors is fiberglass, and it’s fast becoming the most popular. Unlike steel, fiberglass isn’t prone to rust. And unlike wood, fiberglass doesn’t rot. Benefiting from the latest in manufacturing technology, fiberglass entry doors are impervious to the environmental factors that threaten other types of doors. Genuinely low maintenance, fiberglass doors resist dents and are surprisingly tough. Plus, they provide best-in-category insulation, helping homeowners keep their monthly utility costs as low as possible. What seals the deal is that there are now more style options than ever before. At The Home Depot, Masonite alone offers three families of fiberglass entry doors. The company’s Barrington fiberglass door collection combines the high performance of fiberglass with the beauty of hardwood, while Belleville fiberglass doors offer superior architectural design. In either case, you can go a step further to personalize your door, choosing a decorative glass insert from the wide variety of designs offered by Masonite. With such a broad selection, you’re bound to find a door perfect for your project.

Still not sure what type of door you want? Check out Masonite Max. Offered jointly by Masonite and The Home Depot, Masonite Max is an easy- and fun-to-use online tool that guides you through the process of designing and a purchasing a door that perfectly matches your style preferences and functional needs.

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.  


Radiant Heating Gives You Total Design Freedom

The benefits of radiant floor heating range from increased energy efficiency to improved indoor air quality, but for design-conscious homeowners, its greatest appeal may be that it's unnoticeable.

Radiant Heating Gives You Total Design Freedom - Warmboard

Photo: warmboard.com

By now, you’re familiar with the many benefits of radiant floor heating: It runs silently, circulates no dust or airborne impurities, and operates at least 25 percent more efficiently than the forced-air systems in so many American homes. Still, for some homeowners, what’s most impressive about radiant heat is how it stays out of the way, its  components always invisible. There are no vents, radiators, or baseboards to work around, enabling you to enjoy true design freedom. You get to lay out and decorate your home without coming up against any impediments, and without having to make any sacrifices. Radiant heat stays out of your way.

Radiant heating isn’t magic. The concept actually dates back to the Roman era, and 21st-century versions are the result of sound building science and savvy engineering. The principle is that, instead of distributing heat from a single source within a room, it would be more effective to deliver heat across the entire square footage of a space, from beneath the floor (or even from within the walls). Hidden from view, hydronic tubes deliver heated water to a series of panels, which in turn conduct heat into the rooms of the home. What results is an even, enveloping heat whose source does not encroach at all into the heated areas.

Over the past few decades, we’ve gradually become accustomed to setting up our living spaces only in ways our heating system components permit. For instance, knowing that obstruction would disrupt their proper operation, you’d seek not to place anything in the way of a forced-air vent or air return. Likewise, is there anyone who’s never chosen a spot for a piece of furniture specifically so that it would conceal the rusty baseboard or radiator with peeling paint? With radiant heat, meanwhile, there are no such limitations, because, quite simply, there are no visible components the homeowner would need to make allowances for.

Photo: warmboard.com

Even among radiant heating products, there are a range of technologies. Traditional radiant systems rely on concrete, with hydronic tubes set inside. Though it may be the most common approach, concrete isn’t always the best, in part because it doesn’t install easily under every floor type. To work under hardwood, for example, the concrete must be supplemented with an intermediate layer of either “sleeper” beams or plywood. The extra layers not only steal height from the room, but they also put more material between the heat source and the home interior. Sleeper beams, in particular, break up the heating area and cause surface temperature to vary across the floor. That decreases comfort while increasing the likelihood of uneven temperatures leading to floor damage.

Only Warmboard radiant heating panels are manufactured in a way that allows wood floor boards to be installed directly on top. With Warmboard’s highly conductive aluminum panels heating the floor material directly, with no intervening layer, the risk of damage to the wood goes away. In fact, Warmboard products are compatible not only with solid and engineered wood, but with virtually all types of flooring, including tile, vinyl, linoleum, and carpeting.

In the past, thick carpets and radiant heat were rarely used in combination, because with its insulating properties, carpeting worked against under-floor heating. That’s no longer the case, thanks to Warmboard. Because its aluminum panels conduct heat so efficiently, there’s enough power to heat through even thick-pile wool carpeting. So while radiant heating affords greater flexibility than traditional systems, innovative Warmboard technology takes it all a step further, eliminating what few obstacles remained. Now you have total freedom to design your home exactly how you please, and isn’t that how it should be?

Photo: warmboard.com

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Make One Minor Change to Get Major Curb Appeal

A new door gives your facade a facelift, while improving security and energy efficiency. Plus, recent data suggests the replacement all but pays for itself upon resale. So what are you waiting for?

Photo: masonite.com

When Remodeling magazine last published its annual Cost vs. Value Report, many were surprised to learn that, of all the many different home improvements one might undertake, front door replacement offers the greatest return on investment. Upon resale, homeowners recoup a whopping 97 percent of the project cost. We already knew what a difference replacing the entry door could make for a home’s curb appeal. Now we know that the upgrade virtually pays for itself.

As the first and last thing a houseguest sees on his visit—and as a familiar, inevitable part of the homeowner’s daily life—entry doors play a pivotal role in design. Therefore, for a job of such modest proportions, front door replacement delivers outsized benefits. Besides the immediate boost to curb appeal, a new door can also bring enhanced security and even superior energy efficiency, assuming the previous installation, like many old doors, had become drafty over the years.

There are a dizzying array of doors on the market today. To narrow the options, anyone wading into the ocean of options can do well by focusing their search on warranty-backed doors from long-established manufacturers. Masonite fulfills both criteria. In operation since 1925, the Tampa, Florida-based company offers steel, wood, and fiberglass doors in styles to suit any preference or spec. Best of all, some Masonite doors are guaranteed by warranties for up to 25 years. In fact, Masonite steel and fiberglass doors feature a limited lifetime warranty when purchased at The Home Depot, making the retail chain your best bet for value.

Photo: masonite.com

Choosing a Masonite door can begin at The Home Depot, or it can begin online with Masonite Max. Offered jointly by The Home Depot and Masonite, the easy- and fun-to-use Web tool guides you through designing an entry door that perfectly matches both your practical needs and your aesthetic tastes.

When you’re finished, Masonite Max provides the name and model number of your chosen product, making your purchase from The Home Depot fast and hassle-free. And if desired, you can even use Masonite Max to schedule an in-store appointment with a Home Depot customer service agent. He or she not only handles your checkout, but can also answer questions about working with Masonite doors.

If you’re a contractor, then, perhaps better than anyone, you know the old adage is true: Time is money. What you may not know is that in addition to carrying the full suite of Masonite entry doors, The Home Depot offers many appealing conveniences and services especially for its professional customers.

For starters, there’s the Pro App, which gives you up-to-the-minute info on what’s in and out of stock at your local store—definitely a time-saver. The Pro App also gives you electronic receipts, which you can quickly and easily forward to clients. That, too, saves you a step and frees up your time for other things.

In addition, purchases of Masonite doors—or any other tools or materials—can be charged to a Revolving Charge Account, which makes bookkeeping as easy as it possibly can be. Once you’re set up, the account allows you to carry a balance, make low monthly payments, and enjoy itemized billing.

Commercial Credit Accounts are yet another convenience for contractors at The Home Depot. These help small business owners by enabling them to issue cards to employees, track expenditures online, and set up PO numbers. You can go back to focusing on being a contractor, not an accountant!

For high-quality doors in almost every imaginable style and material, with unparalleled support for those in the building trades, Masonite and The Home Depot are the doorway to value and satisfaction.

This post has been brought to you by Masonite. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


How Does Radiant Heat Operate 25% More Efficiently?

Although it still seems newfangled to many homeowners, radiant floor heating has not only been around for a while, but it also offers an attractive combination of comfort and savings.

Photo: warmboard.com

Most people assume radiant floor heating costs a fortune. Perhaps that’s because, compared with radiator or baseboard heat, radiant systems are rare. But there’s reason to suppose that in the years to come, radiant heating may enjoy much greater popularity, at least in new construction or homes undergoing renovation, because of its potential to save homeowners money on monthly heating bills. According to a recent study conducted by Kansas State University in conjunction with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), a radiant system can operate 25 percent more efficiently than a forced-air system. So in a sense, the technology benefits from being the new kid on the block, as it seeks to improve in areas where traditional systems stumble.

1. NO HEAT LOSS 

Photo: homelinkmag.com

Heat loss occurs through uninsulated walls, attic, or basement space, and also through gaps in windows and around exterior door frames. In traditional heating systems, heat loss can also occur within the system itself, with heat dissipating on the journey between its source (i.e., the furnace) and the home’s conditioned space. In a forced-air system, such heat loss occurs most of all in ductwork, where even misaligned joints can leak to a considerable degree. To maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, therefore, the furnace must work harder and consume more energy to make up for the lost heat. With radiant heat, heat loss isn’t an issue, so you don’t have to pay for the system to work overtime.

 

2. EVEN DISTRIBUTION

Photo: warmboard.com

If you’ve ever walked into a heated room, you know that it’s warmest directly next to the radiator, baseboard, or heating vent. The farther you venture from the unit, the more likely you’ll feel the need to turn up the thermostat. By contrast, radiant flooring does not create pockets of warm and cool air; it distributes warmth evenly across the entire room. Neither too hot nor too cold, you remain comfortable enough to leave the thermostat in the money-saving range. Another advantage of even heat distribution: You can place furniture wherever you want, instead of carefully arranging things around the radiators, baseboards, or vents. In other words, radiant heat allows for design freedom, whereas many traditional systems place limits on your options.

 

3. CONDUCTIVITY COUNTS

Photo: soa.utexas.edu

Not every radiant heating system maximizes homeowner savings. Yes, the system design alone, no matter the individual components, offers advantages. But the individual components in a radiant system can make a big difference too—and that’s where the products offered by different manufacturers begin to diverge.

In a typical radiant heat setup, hydronic tubes (or electric coils) are embedded within a slab of gypsum concrete, a material that, in its sluggishness, is not perfectly suited to home heating. First of all, it takes a long time to heat up, and homeowners tend not to appreciate the wait. Second, concrete very slowly releases any heat it has gained, so if a homeowner decides the temperature has risen too high, his quickest, most effective recourse is to open the windows to bring down the temperature. That doesn’t sound so terrible, but where savings are concerned in home heating, efficiency counts—and opening windows in winter is the opposite of efficiency!

Warmboard offers innovative hydronic radiant heat panels that hinge not on concrete, but on highly conductive aluminum. Conductivity translates into savings in two ways. First, because the aluminum so effectively transfers heat from the hydronic tubes in the panels to the living spaces in your home, the boiler can heat the water to a lower temperature than other systems would require. Second, you can turn the thermostat down—for instance, when you go to sleep for the night—and when you raise the heat upon waking up, the change registers in minutes. There’s nothing new about adjusting the thermostat, when possible, to save money. But unlike many of its competitors, Warmboard lets you capitalize on the latest energy-efficient technology without forcing you to sacrifice tried-and-true methods.

 

Photo: warmboard.com

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Benefits of Radiant Heat Are Invisible, and That’s a Good Thing

Of all the advantages offered by radiant heating, perhaps most appealing is the fact that it's virtually unnoticeable.

Photo: warmboard.com

You’ve probably heard about radiant heating, a new technology that delivers comfort via hydronic panels installed underneath the floor. There are many things to love about this home heating alternative. For one, it operates silently, in contrast to roaring forced-air systems or clicking baseboards. Another benefit, one that particularly appeals to allergy sufferers and those concerned about health: Radiant heat involves no ductwork, so it does not recirculate indoor air pollutants and irritants throughout the home. As well, the energy-efficient attributes of the system are a major draw for budget-minded or eco-conscious homeowners. Often overlooked among all these benefits is a less obvious, but no less appealing, fact about radiant heat: It’s invisible.

Freedom
We’re so used to living in the midst of our heating systems that we almost take the frustration for granted. The radiator hulks in the corner, rendering that portion of the room unusable for any other purpose. But for the presence of the baseboard, you would have arranged the bedroom furniture in a completely different way. Now consider radiant heating, whose components live entirely beneath the flooring, whether wood, tile, or wall-to-wall carpeting. So situated, radiant heat never interferes with your plans for the space. You gain not only some extra square footage, but also complete freedom to organize and decorate the room as you see fit. When you think of radiant heat in that way, it’s a wonder that we put up with bulky, inconvenient heating system components for so many decades!

Comfort
One way or another, conventional heating systems are noticeable. Take, for instance, today’s most common type—forced-air heating. When it kicks on, heat blasts into the room. Gradually, the room cools down, only to receive another blast. Baseboard and radiator heating are likewise noticeable: The room is warmest, perhaps too warm, right next to the unit. The farther away you go, the cooler the room gets, until you’ve reached the other side of the space (where you might feel the need to put on a sweater). With radiant heat, there are neither blasts nor variations. There’s simply steady, even heat that calls no attention itself.

Savings
There’s only one place you notice radiant heating, and that’s on your monthly utility bill. Radiant heat consumes less energy than conventional systems, in part because it’s everywhere. Picture a room in your house: Inevitably, its conventional source of heat—be it a vent, baseboard, or radiator—is doing its best to hide somewhere on the perimeter. Radiant flooring, however, extends across the entire space. Given that level of virtually complete coverage, radiant heat needs far less energy to maintain a comfortable temperature than does a heat source that’s confined to a corner. Further, we all know that heat rises. So while conventional heating systems pump a great deal of heat toward the ceiling, radiant flooring puts the comfort where it’s needed most, at floor level. Invisible in every other way, radiant heat makes itself known when it comes to money savings over the long term.

Radiant Heat vs. Forced Air

Photo: warmboard.com

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com


The Right Way to Start a Fire

Build a crackling fire that gives off satisfying, comfort-giving heat while requiring very little in the way of poking and prodding.

How to Start a Fie in the Fireplace

Photo: shutterstock.com

At first it may seem like a foolproof undertaking: You put some wood in the fireplace, light a match, then sit back and watch it burn, right? Well, yes and no. With seasoned firewood, a box of matches, and a handful of kindling, you can go a long way on trial-and-error alone. But if you build fires often and have grown tired of returning again and again to poke at the logs—or if you care about how much heat the fire actually gives off—then it’s a tremendous help to master a tried-and-true method of starting a fire in the fireplace. We’ll explain two such methods here, but first:

• Be sure your chimney has been cleaned by a professional. Over time, creosote builds up in the flue, making it vulnerable to chimney fires.

• Before bringing a flame into the equation, remember to open the fireplace damper so that smoke doesn’t overcome your living room.

• If your fireplace does not have a grate, add one for safety and to encourage the airflow needed to sustain combustion.

Once you’ve prepared the hearth and chimney, proceed to making the fire. With either strategy below, assuming proper execution, you should end up with a fire that not only generates a comforting degree of heat, but also burns well on its own, without needing near-constant attention and care.

 

THE “LOG CABIN” METHOD

How to Start a Fire in the Fireplace - Log Cabin Method

Photo: wikimedia.org

1. Place two thin logs with no bark parallel to the back of the fireplace, about six inches apart from one another.

2. Heap kindling—whether newspapers, twigs, or both—between the two logs from the previous step.

3. Position two additional logs perpendicular to the first two. You should end up with a primitive log cabin-type structure that is two logs tall.

4. If you choose, add one more layer, with the logs running in the same direction as the first pair.

5. Light the kindling.

Note: In 1978, Mother Earth News reported on a variation of the above, tweaked for maximum heat production. Start by laying kindling in the middle. Next, run two pieces of wood parallel to the sides of the firebox. The far tips of both logs should actually touch the rear of the firebox. Now, as in the normal log cabin method, lay two additional logs perpendicular to the existing two. Importantly, the rear perpendicular log should be touching the back of the fireplace. The other perpendicular log should be very close (not six inches away, as in the first log cabin version). Finally, light the kindling and enjoy a better blast of warmth from your winter blaze.

 

THE “UPSIDE DOWN” METHOD

How to Start a Fire in the Fireplace - Upside Down Approach

Photo: wikimedia.org

1. Line up your largest logs across the fireplace grate.

2. Lay a row of smaller logs on top of the logs that you arranged in the previous step.

3. Add one or more layers, each one comprising smaller logs than the last.

4. Use your kindling to form the final, top layer.

5. Light the fire from the top and enjoy fuss-free flames all night.

As the smaller wood on top starts to burn, hot embers drop down, gradually igniting the larger logs below. The upside-down method is typically thought to be superior to the log cabin approach, because, for one thing, the pyramidal arrangement creates a stronger draft. That draft feeds oxygen to the fire, allowing it to burn strong and for a longer period of time. Plus, consensus seems to be that the upside-down method produces more heat than the log cabin approach.

Why not try both and decide for yourself which you like better?


Heat Your Entire House with a New Radiant Heat System

If you're thinking about upgrading your heating system, maybe it's time to weigh the many benefits of radiant heating.

Radiant Heating

Photo: warmboard.com

Despite all the attention radiant heating has received over the last few years, you still might not regard it as a viable alternative to traditional systems, such as hydronic baseboards or forced-air furnaces. Part of the confusion is that radiant heating shares some similarities with floor warming, a stopgap option for small spaces that tend to get chilly. The reality is that radiant heating can heat your whole house, fully replacing your existing system. In fact, if you are contemplating a major renovation project, there are several reasons why you might want to include radiant heating in your plans.

It Heats Evenly
In a room with a radiator, baseboard, or duct register—that is to say, in most rooms in America—it’s warmest right near the heat source and gets cooler the farther away you move. As a result, the room winds up unevenly heated. You might find yourself needing a sweater while you’re sitting on the sofa, and then wanting to shed the extra layer when you’re working at the desk. In contrast, radiant heating installed beneath the floor delivers warmth across virtually every square inch of the space. When exiting one room and entering another, you can expect no change in the temperature. That means you can say goodbye to the discomfort of a stifling hot upstairs and a constantly chilly ground floor.

Radiant Heating - Detail Installation

Photo: warmboard.com

It Operates Silently
Radiators hiss, bang, and clank. Baseboards click—incessantly. And blowers can sound like airplanes taking off. Radiant heating, meanwhile, operates silently. When you remove your radiators, baseboards, or furnace in exchange for radiant heating, you eliminate disturbing noises.

It Eases Allergies
Dust, allergens, germs and other irritants build up in, and then circulate through, forced-air systems, the most common type of heating in the country. Forced-air systems also tend to lower the humidity level, effectively drying out the indoor air. That dryness too can lead to respiratory distress. Radiant heating creates no such problems; in fact, it solves them. Because it lies under the flooring (and sometimes, if you choose, behind walls), radiant heating remains out of sight, neither contributing to nor exacerbating any issues related to indoor air quality. For allergy sufferers and others concerned about sickness or family health, radiant heating is a breath of fresh air.

It Costs Less to Operate
Replacing your existing system with radiant heating may at first blush seem like a prohibitively expensive proposition. Certainly, it’s probably not a wise choice for homeowners who plan to move within a few years. But for others, radiant heating, despite the cost of installation, can translate over the long haul into real savings. From the moment you begin relying on radiant heating, your monthly utility bills are going to go down and stay down.

Why? Because radiant heating requires less energy to keep your house as comfortable as your old system did. For example, in a traditional hydronic heating system, water must be heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (or more) in order to put out a comfortable level of heat through a radiator or baseboard. Compare that with the radiant heating offered by Warmboard: To keep a home equally comfortable, Warmboard only needs temperatures between 80 and 108 degrees! This not only saves energy, but it extends the life of your heating appliance.

Plus, because radiant heating, well, radiates up from the floor surface, not from a single source in the room, it doesn’t need to work as hard to reach a target ambient temperature. Energy use declines, and your savings go up; so too does your level of comfort. And really, what price can you put on that?

This post has been brought to you by Warmboard. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


The Right Way to Weatherstrip a Door

Besides being unpleasant, door drafts force your heating system to work harder (and consume more energy) to keep your home at a consistently comfortable temperature. You can go a long way toward solving the issue by weatherstripping your doors. Here's how to do it the right way.

Door Weather Stripping

Photo: montpelierrestoration.wordpress.com

Door drafts can be a cause of real discomfort. Besides the immediate unpleasantness of a chilly gust invading the warmth of your home in winter, there’s also the impact that drafts can have on your energy bills. That’s where weatherstripping comes in. According to Energy Star, the installation of weatherstripping can save you up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs. Best of all, virtually anyone can install weatherstripping; this is definitely not a sophisticated DIY. But to coax the greatest value from its insulating properties, weatherstripping must be installed correctly. Continue reading to learn the right way to go about the project.

STEP 1
First, clean the door and the jamb, removing as much dirt and debris as possible. If any grime remains after scrubbing with soapy water, consider using fine-grit sandpaper to eliminate residual buildup. Once you’ve got the doorway clean, proceed to do some measuring. You need to answer two questions. First, how wide is the gap between the door and jamb? (Be sure to measure twice, once along the side, and again along the top. These measurements might differ.) Second, how wide is the jamb? While the answer to the first question tells you how thick the weatherstripping you purchase can be, the second answer reveals how widePlan on buying enough weatherstripping to run across the width and height of the door, plus about 10 percent extra (just in case).

Door Weather Stripping - Install Detail

Photo: dulley.com

STEP 2
Weatherstripping comes in a variety of materials. Each has pros and cons. Felt weatherstripping offers the benefits of being cheap and very easy to cut and install, but because it’s not very durable, it’s best confined to rarely used doors. Marginally more expensive is easy-to-install foam weatherstripping. Though foam wears better than felt, neither boasts the durability of rubber, the most expensive option. Rubber insulates well, but it can be somewhat challenging to install. Unlike the other options, it often must be nailed into place.

STEP 3
With your chosen weatherstripping at the ready, proceed to cut three pieces—one for the top, and two for the sides. If the product features an adhesive back, peel it away and press it into place around the perimeter of the door jamb, not the door itself. Even if your weatherstripping has adhesive, you may wish to reinforce the installation with heavy-duty staples or small tacking nails. Either will help keep the weatherstripping in place over time.

STEP 4
To complete the job, install a sweep along the bottom of the door. The most common type of door sweep consists of a metal band from which a strip of rubber juts down. When the door opens, the rubber flexes so as not to be an impediment, and when the door closes, the rubber provides a strong air seal.

Door sweeps come in standard sizes, but if you cannot find one whose width matches that of your door, you can use a hacksaw to cut the sweep down to size. Attach the right-size sweep to the door using the screws provided. Because these screws tend to be small and not self-tapping, it’s best to predrill holes for them by means of an electric drill/driver. Position the sweep so that it seals tightly against the threshold.

From start to finish, the door weatherstripping process should take no longer than an hour. That’s a small time commitment to ensure that you remain comfortable through the winter, without spending a fortune on to keep the house warm. Though it’s a simple project, weatherstripping really is one of the most effective ways to stop drafts and the discomfort they cause.

 


The Right Way to Load a Dishwasher

Are some of your plates and bowls still dirty when they emerge from the dishwasher? The problem might be how you're loading the machine. Read on to learn the right way.

How to Load a Dishwasher

Photo: shutterstock.com

Of all kitchen appliances, the dishwasher must rank as one of the greatest, don’t you think? It’s a true time-saver. While the alternative involves laborious scrubbing, this wonderful convenience of modern life takes just the push of a button to restore a glut of dirty dishes to pristine cleanliness. The trouble is that on occasion you may open the post-cycle dishwasher to find that some items are less clean than you’d like. In such cases, it may be that the appliance isn’t to blame; perhaps you, its user, are the culpable one. Most of us are accustomed to packing in as many cups and plates as possible, but did you know there is a right way to load a dishwasher? Read on to learn how to fill the machine to the brim without sacrificing cleaning effectiveness.

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Safety First
Proper use of the dishwasher begins with knowing which items are safe to put in the machine. While it certainly seems that more and more items these days are dishwasher-friendly, there remain some materials that you ought to hand-wash in the sink—namely, wood, cast iron, bronze, pewter, and leaded crystal. Silver can go in the dishwasher only in certain cases; if you’re not sure about yours, it’s best to be cautious and hand-wash.

How to Load a Dishwasher - Detail Shot

Photo: shutterstock.com

Scrape and Rinse
Before putting any plates or bowls, pots or pans into the dishwasher, be sure to scrape food residue into the trash. With modern dishwashers, running dishes under the faucet isn’t typically necessary. But if your machine is older and tends to struggle, prerinsing can be a good idea. Don’t go overboard, though; dishwasher detergent actually needs some grime to stick to.

Baking Pans and Cookie Sheets
If you use your dishwasher to clean large, unwieldy items like baking pans and cookie sheets, position them along the perimeter of the lower tier. Safely confined to the sides of the machine, the pans and sheets are less likely to impede the sprays that come from the bottom of the appliance.

Plates, Bowls, and Flatware
Load plates and bowls—plus any dishwasher-safe pots and pans—in the lower rack. Staggering larger and smaller plates can help them all get cleaner. Bowls may be placed side by side but tilt each one so that its dirty portion faces down. If your dishwasher comes with baskets for flatware, take advantage. It’s a good idea, however, to point some pieces of flatware up and others down. Also, mix forks, knives, and spoons together in the same baskets rather than grouping like items. Mixing things up prevents a nesting effect that limits exposure to the spray.

Plastic Containers
Place larger plastic containers on the lower shelf and smaller ones on top. All should face downward. Unlike dishes, plasticware should be lodged firmly between dividers so that containers do not become dislodged in the course of the cycle and interfere with the machine.

Cooking Utensils, Glasses, and Mugs
On the top rack, lay long utensils (for example, spatulas) perpendicular to the wire supports of the rack (if laid parallel, such items might fall through and block the spray arm). Next, place glasses and mugs along the left and right sides of the upper rack—and if your machine has one, snap down the protective flap. Finally, rest bowls over the long utensils you already placed. Yes, over the utensils—although it’s usually best not to layer items in the dishwasher, you can get away with it here, because cooking utensils are normally thin and not likely to block the spray of water.

The choice of detergent—liquid or powder—is largely a matter of preference, but for maximum effectiveness, use detergent that’s no more than two months old. Once you’ve got the machine running, go ahead and dirty another bowl with something—ice cream, anyone?—to celebrate the fact that you’re now a pro when it comes to loading a dishwasher properly.