One of the latest rages in new homes is the installation of hydronic radiant heat flooring. This is a fancy way of saying the you use water to heat the area underneath of your flooring. The heat then radiates upward through the floor and into your room providing you with a comfortable and consistent temperature.
Â You can use radiant floor heating in any room in your house from your bathroom to your living room to your bedroom to your kitchen. Hydronic radiant heat flooring does provide a significant energy savings over the standard forced air heating systems. When you combine this with the comfort level that it brings to your home you can understand why many new homeowners are opting for this type of system.
But if you currently own a home and are considering adding a radiant floor heating system is it worth it? I guess the simple answer would be that if money is not an object then by all means install radiant heat flooring. However, if you are trying to justify the cost of the installation versus that energy savings that you will experience each month it might be a tough pill to swallow.
To remodel an existing home for hydronic radiant heat is an expensive proposition. You need to have a boiler installed along with all of the tubing that needs to be run underneath of the floor. This is assuming you can even get a boiler down into your basement. I hate to say it but, although it is a fantastic source for heat, hydronic radiant floor heating is too expensive to install in an existing home.
You do have a second option available to you. You can used electric radiant floor heating. These are much cheaper to install. You have to tear up your existing floor coverings but is you were thinking of replacing your carpet or tile or laminate flooring anyway then you might want to consider electric radiant heating for your floors. The most common installation involves a mat that is laid on your sub-floor and then your floor covering is installed on top of the mat. The mat has a heating element that runs through it that is controlled by a thermostat. Normally the cost for such a system would run about $10 per square foot if you installed it yourself. If you had professionals install electric radiant floor heating then the cost would obviously run more.
You would need to talk to the company providing the mats for the electric radiant heat because there is some debate as to whether it is a cost effective solution for heating your home. It shouldn't cost you any more than you are currently paying but it may not save you much either. If your main concern is the comfort level of the temperatures in your home then it will definitely be a plus since radiant heat provides a consistent level of temperature throughout your room.
You have a third option of forced air radiant floor heating but this is rarely used in homes. It is more of a commercial application and it is not very cost effective since air cools rapidly. If you have a new home that you are building your first and best option would be to install a hydronic radiant heat flooring system. If you have an existing home the better choice is probably to install an electric radiant floor heating system.