When designing a new home, the thought of heating and cooling often slips our minds in favor of more exciting things like color schemes and furniture. However, these systems are a key element in home design and overall home comfort. There’s conventional forced-air systems, hydronic systems, geothermal, and one of the most up and coming, modern choices: radiant floor heating.

Radiant floor heating is an efficient and direct means of heating a home, and is the fastest-growing segment of the heating industry. It’s buzzing all over the internet. But, what is it and how do you know if it’s right for you? Let’s look at some of its main characteristics to get a better idea.

First of all, what is radiant floor heating?

floorheatingRadiant heating is a system buried beneath the floor that administers heat through the surface, warming you from your feet up. Radiant doesn’t heat the air or rely on air circulation like forced-air heating. That means the warmth will remain at the first 5 or 6 feet above the floor, warming you and not your ceiling. Since your feet have a major impact on your overall body temperature, these systems do a wondrous job in regulating your comfort.

How do these systems work?

There are two different types of radiant floor heating systems: electric and hydronic. Both are buried beneath the floor to warm you from your toes up to the tip of your head. Here’s how they differ.

Electric — heat through under-the-floor electric wiring

This kind of radiant heating is easier and less expensive to install, but operation is more expensive. Electric radiant heating is best in small areas like a single bedroom or bathroom and integrates well with forced-air since it doesn’t use water.

Hydronic — heat through under-the-floor hot water tubes

Hydronic systems are better for large floor areas, and can even work well in entire homes. They’re less expensive to operate, but they do come with higher initial costs (since they’re harder to install).

Despite the difference in wiring, electric and hydronic systems basically do the same thing. They radiate warmth through the floor surface, traveling upwards and releasing energy as it makes contact with something cooler — you, your furniture, etc.

What are the benefits of radiant floor heating?

There’s a reason why radiant floor systems are buzzing around the internet and are popping up in more new homes. Actually, there are many reasons. The benefits of these systems are pretty abundant; here are some of the main ones.

Better air quality — Since radiant heating doesn’t rely on air circulation like other systems, it doesn’t stir up dust, debris, and other pollutants in your home. This is a major benefit for those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Better quality of air = better quality of life.

Flexibility — While these heating systems work especially well with flooring materials that have thermal conducting properties, like stone, concrete, and tile, radiant systems actually work with just about any type of flooring, making them more flexible than one might imagine.

Energy efficient heat — Radiant floors allow you to set your thermostat lower, since they outperform typical systems, give you direct comfort, and eliminate heat loss around your home. They provide energy savings of 20 to 40 percent over forced-air systems.

Low maintenance  Since there are no ducts or filters, cleaning is practically eliminated. Say goodbye to constant maintenance and just focus on living.

In the brutal DC metropolitan area winters, consistent comfort is cherished. It’s important to recognize the different choices for heating systems in your custom home. Radiant floor heating isn’t just a buzzword or a trend, it’s a reliable and efficient home heating system that could be perfect for you!

Talk to the team of experts at Sandy Spring Builders about your options. We’ll help you make the best choice for your home!