Underfloor Heating - Alternative to Traditional HVAC - Bob Vila

Winter Comfort Starts with Spring Remodeling

If you're getting ready for a spring renovation project, this may be the perfect time to opt for a new HVAC system that will ensure wintertime comfort and help reduce your monthly heating costs.

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Radiant Heat Planning

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With the cheerful arrival of spring, the frigid, finger-numbing weather we endured mere weeks ago suddenly seems like a distant memory. But don’t fool yourself: If you were uncomfortable at home last winter, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in the exact same spot again. That’s why, if you plan to embark on a home remodeling project in the coming months—if you’re doing a gut renovation, putting on an addition, or even building a brand-new home—you have a golden opportunity ahead. You have a chance to decide not only how your living space will look and function, but also how it will feel day to day, because this will be the perfect time for you to switch up your HVAC system. What you decide to do now will have an effect that last decades. Your system choice matters!

Contractors typically default to recommending a conventional forced-air system. This isn’t surprising. Forced air has dominated the market for decades, so it’s the HVAC system that pros—and their homeowner clients—know best. In fact, forced air has been so deeply entrenched in the industry for so long that few even consider other technologies. That’s a mistake. In recent years, a host of new technologies have leapt onto the scene, and the most intriguing of all may be radiant heating. Popular around the world but still relatively unknown here in the United States, radiant heating offers a radically different winter comfort experience, one that improves on forced air in numerous ways.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of radiant heating, and why more and more homeowners are choosing it as an alternative to the more familiar, but flawed, options.

 

RADIANT HEATING 101

Underfloor Heating

Photo: warmboard.com

Don’t be mistaken: You may be hearing about radiant heating for the first time now, in 2017, but it’s nothing new. In fact, the technology traces its beginnings back to the homes of noblemen in ancient Rome. It’s only recently, however, that after years of optimization by industry leaders like Warmboard, radiant heating has become not only a viable whole-home heating option, but a best bet, one that fuses high performance with high efficiency. The key to it all: Radiant heating doesn’t operate like any other system. Instead of distributing heat through a vent or stand-alone unit, it does so across the full square footage, from the ground up. How does it work? Boiler-heated water cycles through tubing set into radiant panels under the floor. The tubing heats the panels, and the panels then radiate heat gently into the room. The result? You get “everywhere” warmth—a very different experience from patchy, imperfect forced air.

 

EVERYWHERE WARMTH

Underfloor Heating vs. Forced Air

Photo: warmboard.com

Does this sound familiar? You hear the heating system kick on, and a rush of hot air enters the room. Comfort arrives, but it disappears just as quickly as it came. That’s a key frustration with forced air. The heat shuts off when the conditioned space gets sufficiently warm, then turns on again once the temperature cools. In this way, as a result of its on-again, off-again operation, forced air creates uncomfortable, yoyo-like conditions. The fact that warm air rises only exacerbates the problem. Put it all together, and you can see why forced air fails to create consistent comfort. Meanwhile, radiant heating excels where the older technology falls short. For one, it concentrates heat not near the ceiling, but at floor level, where you need it—and can feel it—the most. And thanks to their under-floor placement, panels provide even heat across every inch of space, both within each room and from one room, and one floor, to the next.

 

QUALITY-OF-LIFE BENEFITS

Underfloor Heating Benefits

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One way or another, traditional heating attracts attention, whether through unsightly components, distracting noise, or poor indoor air quality. Radiant heating, however, goes entirely unnoticed. In part, that’s because radiant panels are literally out of view. But radiant systems are concealed not only from the eye, but also from the ear: The technology operates silently—that’s right, silently! Also, consider that while forced air circulates dust, germs, and other impurities—lowering indoor humidity in the process—radiant heating neither spreads airborne pollutants nor fosters the dry, scratchy conditions that prove a nuisance (and sometimes pose health risks) during the long winter months. Think about it this way: In a home with forced air, you can’t help but remain at least dimly aware of the heating system and its shortcomings. Radiant heating, in contrast, enables you to forget about your heating system and focus on the more important things for a change.

 

MORE COMFORT, LESS MONEY

Underfloor Heating Savings

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Your utility costs drop as soon as you start relying on radiant heating for cold-weather relief. Why? The technology offers several savings benefits, none more consequential than its elimination of the main inefficiency that plagues forced air. While channeling conditioned air from the furnace to living spaces throughout the home, the ductwork in a forced-air system can leak enough heat to compromise overall efficiency by over 25 percent. To make up for the loss, the furnace must work harder, for longer, which drives up costs. But radiant heating sidesteps the issue altogether, because it doesn’t involve any ductwork. So whereas heating your home with forced air often means paying more to compensate for the system type’s fundamental flaws, radiant heating eliminates wasted energy, ensuring that you pay only for heat you and your family felt and enjoyed. Isn’t that the way it should be?

 

CHOOSE WISELY

Underfloor Heating Systems

Photo: warmboard.com

Choose your radiant system carefully. All offer compelling advantages—and all offer a minimum of 25 percent monthly savings over forced air—but only one choice maximizes homeowner savings: Warmboard. Other systems encase their tubing in gypsum concrete. The problem? Concrete takes forever to heat up and cool down. Warmboard sets itself apart by swapping concrete for a combination of wood and, more importantly, aluminum. Not only does aluminum respond much more quickly than concrete, but it also transfers heat more effectively—so much more effectively that Warmboard can heat your home with water 30 degrees cooler than other systems. As a consequence, the boiler driving a Warmboard installation can conserve enough energy to save an extra 10 to 20 percent each month. Ultimately, radiant heating means total comfort, but with Warmboard, you get comfort at the most comfortable cost.

 

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


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