Believe it or not, radiant floors are one of the oldest forms of heating a structure — dating all the way back to Roman times. Radiant floor heat provides numerous benefits, including increased comfort, even temperatures, cleaner air, no cold drafts, no unsightly ductwork and no floor vents, all while being quieter and more energy-efficient compared to forced-air heat. In a radiant floor heating system, warm water flows through tubes located underneath the floors. That warmth radiates up from the floors and warms everything it comes in contact with — including people. And radiant is compatible under any type of floor covering — carpet, wood, slate, tile, linoleum, and even concrete — making design possibilities endless.
The water in a radiant system has a capacity to transport energy 3,500 times greater than air, so it can heat (and even cool) using less energy than a forced-air system.
This amounts to greater comfort at a lower thermostat setting, which provides lower energy bills. In fact, more people are comfortable with radiant floor heating at a lower thermostat setting than with forced-air heating at a higher thermostat setting.
In a radiant floor heating system, warm water flows through flexible plastic tubing called PEX that is located underneath or within the floors. (PEX is an acronym for crosslinked polyethylene.) The PEX tubing carries the warm water into specific rooms or “zones” to effectively heat people and objects in every corner of the room. In addition to the PEX tubing, the other main components in a radiant heating system include a heat source, pumps, manifolds and controls. The heat source in a hydronic radiant floor heating system is typically a boiler or a hot-water heater. However, other heat sources can be used, including highly energy-efficient sources such as geothermal and solar.
And because a radiant floor heating system is designed in zones, you have the luxury of changing temperatures for each room, depending on its use. This makes the system even more energy efficient because unoccupied or lower-use rooms (such as a guest bedroom or formal dining room) can be set to a lower temperature than rooms with greater use (like a kitchen, bathroom or basement).
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