For many homes, radiant flooring is one of the most comfortable and cost-effective ways to heat during Chicago’s cold winters. Getting familiar with the basics of radiant heating will help you decide if you could benefit from this type of heating.
How Radiant Heating Works
A radiant heating system lies under the floor and produces heat that rises up through the floor and into the room. The two most common radiant floor heating systems are electric systems that use electric wires and hydronic systems that use hot water tubes.
While electric systems are simpler and therefore cheaper to install, they cost more to run due to the relatively high cost of electricity. These systems are best used for small spaces such as bathrooms.
Hydronic systems use hot water from a boiler or water heater, which is more energy efficient. The lower operating cost means they can be used for large areas, such as the living room or even throughout the whole house. On the downside, their installation requirements are more complicated, so they’re more expensive to install.
Ideally, radiant systems should be installed during the home’s construction. Installing them in a finished home requires tearing out the floor.
How Radiant Heating Benefits You
Understanding the basics of radiant heating means learning about the pros and cons of these systems. With a forced-air heating system, such as a furnace, the warmth quickly rises toward the ceiling, leaving chilly temperatures in the lower half of the room. The heat from a radiant system rises slowly, warming the walls and furniture and keeping the lower part of your room toasty.
Radiant systems let you use flooring materials you might otherwise avoid due to their cold surfaces. Concrete, stone and ceramic tile are ideal for these systems because they conduct and hold heat well and can tolerate high temperatures. Solid wood, vinyl, laminate and carpeted floors, however, don’t work well with radiant systems.
To learn more about the basics of radiant heating and other home heating and cooling methods, contact us at Gartner Heating & Cooling in Chicago and the northern suburbs.
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