In a forced-air heating system, your air is heated in the furnace and forced through ductwork that branches throughout your home. It blows out of registers and circulates through the house. While forced-air heating is common and can be efficient if properly designed, installed and maintained, radiant systems offer comfort and efficiency that surpasses that of forced-air systems in many circumstances.
In hydronic radiant floor heating -- the most common form of radiant system -- tubing is installed beneath the floor. Heated liquid flows through the tubing; the heat transfers to the floor and then to the objects and people in the room. That transfer of heat is called radiation, but these systems also rely on convection -- the circulation of air in a room that results as heat rises naturally.
Because the heat originates in the floor, your feet will never be cold. With a forced-air system, heat often gathers at the ceiling, leaving the lower part of the room -- and your feet -- cooler. This affects your body’s natural heating system. Keeping your feet warm makes you more comfortable. Clients often refer to these systems as "barefoot comfort".
Other benefits of radiant heating over forced-air systems:
- They eliminate the cold spots and drafts caused by swirling air.
- Radiant systems readily lend themselves to zoning different areas of the home or office. This allows greater comfort and the opportunity to save by setting back the temperature in unused areas.
- They do not circulate airborne particles through your living space that can compromise your indoor air quality. Forced-air systems can blow dust, mold, allergens, chemical fumes and other contaminants through your house -- a problem for people with allergies or respiratory problems.
- Radiant heating eliminates the energy loss associated with leaky ductwork.
- Radiant systems require less energy to force heat through the house.
- Radiant floor heating can be coupled with a variety of floor coverings, including carpet, tile and hardwood. The floor covering utilized is an important design criteria and affects the installation of the system.
- Once set up and commissioned, radiant heating systems are often more trouble free than forced-air systems.
If you have questions about how radiant systems can enhance your comfort and energy savings, contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been helping Cleveland-area homeowners save money in comfort since 1936.Photo credit: Myahya