Radiant floor heating is a method of directly heating the floors in your home. With radiant heat transfer, the heat is transferred directly from the heated floor to the people and things in the room by radiation, also called infrared radiation. Convection also plays a role as heat rises from the floor and the natural circulation of air heats the room.
Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. - Energy Savers
The government backed website Energy Savers lists several benefits to radiant heating over traditional methods of baseboard or forced air systems.
- It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts
- The lack of moving air can be advantageous to people with severe allergies
- Hydronic (liquid-based) systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices
- Hydronic systems can be heated with a wide variety of energy sources, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or some combination of these heat sources.
There are three types of radiant floor heating systems: 1) air-heated, 2) electric, and 3) hydronic (liquid). Early air-heated systems have slowly become phased out due to their inefficiency. Electric systems work with cables embedded into the floor. With high electricity costs though it's important to note that these electric systems work best with thick concrete or other high thermal mass floors, where the concrete can absorb heat at night when electricity costs are lower and then slowly let the heat out throughout the day. Liquid systems are generally the most cost-effective method for radiant floor heating, where heated water is pumped through tubing laid underneath the floor.
If you're looking to renovate your home in the near future, consider installing a radiant floor heating system. Your cold feet will thank you as you step out of the hot shower onto what was previously cold bathroom tile!
(via Energy Savers)