The use of concrete floor radiant heating systems seems like a new technology to most. It's being incorporated into many new homes these days instead of or along with traditional forced air systems.
The idea of radiant floor heating actually stems from the ancient Romans. Their systems, called hypocausts, involved hot air from burning fires that passed under the concrete floors and up through the walls. This way they could utilize the heat without letting in the smoke and pollutants from the fire. What a great idea! Although these hypocausts eventually died out, the use of radiant heating stuck around and has recently gained popularity with better and more economical ways of delivering heat. Concrete floors are most effective at radiating the heat due to concrete's inherent thermal mass.
So why are people choosing radiant floor heating over forced air? There are a few reasons, but it begins with comfort. When heat passes under the floor, it not only warms the floor, but also the surrounding environment including the furniture and the air. Imagine getting out of bed on a cold winter morning and stepping onto a cozy, warm floor. I've heard radiant heat being compared to standing near a window on a winter day with the sun coming through and warming you up. This kind of comfort isn't possible with forced air blowing around.
Radiant floor heat also allows the capability of zone heating. You can conserve energy and save money by not heating rooms that aren't being used. You can turn up the heat in areas that are naturally colder such as basements or turn down the heat in rooms that tend to stay warmer.
Several years ago radiant floor heat was a luxury found mainly in rich homes. But popularity has trickled down to middle class homes with the technology and installation becoming less expensive. The initial cost is still higher than forced air systems, but a few years of energy savings make up the difference and actually make it a wise investment over the long run. The average savings on energy costs is estimated to be between 30 and 50 percent, which is very enticing considering recent hikes in energy costs.
If you're buliding a new home or adding on to your existing house, consider the comfort and economic benefits of concrete floor radiant heating.
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