Hydronic Radiant Heating Versus Electric Heating – Which One Is Best for a New Home?
Your new home is on the drawing boards and the general contractor and the architect both need to know how are you going to heat it.
Your location makes getting putting in a kerosene or oil-based furnace cost prohibitive and the costs of piping natural gas or storing propane are just ridiculous in your area. And yours is not the type of family to love the idea of wood burning anything!
So you have been thinking that you are going to have to go electric. But you have heard how houses using heat pumps just never get really warm but what is left? Standard baseboard heaters can be very inefficient in energy use and don’t always heat up a room completely.
But someone mentioned hydronic radiant heating to you the other day. They said that hydronic radiant heating versus electric heating had cheaper energy bills and that in-floor hydronic heating could keep a whole house warm through even the toughest of winters.
What Is Hydronic Radiant Heating?
Liquid-based or hydronic heating has become one the most popular and inexpensive methods of whole house heating in new home constructions. This is because unlike conventional methods, hydronic relies on radiant heat that comes directly from under the floor. Radiant heat is the type of heat you feel from sunlight when you are standing outdoors.
The non-contact of hydronic radiant heating feels warm without the worry of children, pets or furnishings being too close to open flames or hot elements. While hydronic does mean “liquid” and in portable systems often uses oil or silicone based materials, with in-floor radiant heating, only water is used.
Water is the optimum heat transfer liquid in a whole house heating system. Water from your normal domestic supply is piped into a boiler where it is heated close to boiling and then pumped into heating zones. A zone can represent an entire room or a series of living spaces like a kitchen with dining room.
Under the flooring of each zoom or room, are plastic tubing which transfers the heat from the hot water into the room above. Heat settings can be controlled either by a thermostats (one for each zone or a central one like normal) or by using a set of water control valves.
The main component to hydronic radiant heating is the natural circulation of heated air from floor to ceiling. The more heat is absorbed and remains in the flooring the longer the room above will stay warm. This is why a floor with good thermal mass (high capacity to store heat) is an excellent idea.
Floors made with concrete or with ceramic or stone tiles are considered the best. These are called “wet” installations and while very good for heating purposes, can pose structural issues due to their relative weight. Newer, “dry” installations use hydronic radiant heating tubing “sandwiched” in between a normal subflooring and the standard carpet or wood.
Why Hydronic Radiant Heating is is the Best for a New Home?
Two main reasons are installation costs and long term heating costs. Studies have shown that when installed in a home at the time of construction that hydronic radiant heating systems are cheaper versus electric heating. The second reason is that hydronic heating has a more efficient energy use which translates into lower heating bills and greater savings to the homeowner over the life of house.
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