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Radiant Floor Heating Trumps Other Home Heating Methods


When it comes to heating your home, office or plane hangar, there is no more efficient method than radiant floor heat. In a home building magazine article over a decade ago, the chairman of ASHRAE’s (American Society of Heating Ventilation and Air conditioning Engineers) technical committee explained why radiant heating reduces building heat load by 25% to 35% over convective systems. Convective systems include heating methods that rely on blowing warm air including natural gas furnaces, electric heat pumps, electric geothermal heat pumps and baseboard heaters.

Radiant floor heating includes two types: water (hydronic) and electric. Both types provide lower heating costs when compared to traditional convective methods. Considering that electric radiant floor heating systems are easier to install and maintenance-free, electric in floor heating has become particularly attractive.

It seems counter intuitive that any type of electric heating could provide the lowest cost heating since electricity rates are higher than natural gas. The ASHRAE article explains that radiant heat feels warmer than convective heating which allows occupants to be more comfortable at lower temperatures--6 to 8 degrees lower! Utility companies advise their customers that they can save anywhere from 3-5% on their heat bill for every degree lower they can turn down the thermostat. Six to 8 degrees times 3 to 5% savings explains why electric radiant floor heating saves up to 40%. But there’s more.

You might be asking, why is radiant floor heat more comfortable than convective heat? The ASHRAE article explains that radiant heating reverses the temperature stratification. With convective systems, a significant amount of heat is lost to the ceiling where it provides little comfort. On the other hand, radiant floor heat warms the body directly from the floor. Like the radiant heat from the sun, radiant floor heat is attracted directly to people and objects. It does not depend on the movement of warm air – nor does it rise to the ceiling where it is totally wasted.

Besides providing better comfort at lower temperatures, radiant floor heat saves in another big way - the elimination of ductwork. Convective systems require ductwork to distribute warm air throughout the home or building. Along the way, the warm air is cooling and leaking. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates up to 35% of heat is lost in the ductwork. With radiant floor heat, this loss of energy is completely eliminated since there are no ducts. With electric radiant floors, 100% of the energy is utilized to warm the floor.

A little understanding of the thermal dynamics of radiant heat easily explains why radiant floor heat trumps convective heating systems. To learn more about electric floor heating, visit www.ThermoSoft.com.

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