Forced Air vs. In-Floor Radiant Heating: Which is Better
There are many important decisions to make during home construction. Perhaps one of the most important choices Torontonians can make is how they’ll decide to heat their new property. The majority of Canadians rely on forced-air heating systems to get the job done, but radiant floor heating offers a wealth of benefits that conventional heating just can’t. Let’s compare each of these heating methods to see why in-floor radiant heating comes out on top.
Why You Should Leave Forced Air Behind
A forced-air heating system sucks air into its ducts, where it then travels to a furnace to heat up. The warm air is then distributed to export ducts placed all around the house. If you currently use forced-air heating, you know this system has its challenges.
Parasitic Heat Loss
Air loses heat quickly when it’s being forced around your home. In fact, forced air loses much of its heat while in the duct system, before it even reaches the rooms of your home. This is called parasitic heat loss — if your ducts go through the cooler areas of your home, like your basement or attic, your heated air will lose heat while it passes through. Additionally, the air can lose heat to small openings or leaks in your duct system.
Once the warm air does make it through your floor vents, it rises and cools rapidly. You may feel warm enough to turn down your thermostat, but you’ll feel cold again in a short period of time and head back over to your control pad to turn the heat back up. This inefficiency is a hassle and a substantial waste of energy.
Proper heat distribution is another significant problem that comes with forced air. No matter where your air vents are placed, heated air always rises and collects at your ceiling, while denser, cooler air sinks to the bottom of your room — this effect is called thermal stratification.
Homeowners often try to overcome stratification by turning the thermostat up to pump more warm air into the room. However, this can actually make the air cycle faster, causing a breeze that can actually cool you down.
The Benefits of In-Floor Radiant Heating
Radiant heating systems provide consistent warmth with higher efficiency than forced air systems. There are two popular types of radiant heating systems: water-based and electric. Water-based systems use hot water, which runs through tubing or piping under the floorboards. Electric radiant systems use heated wiring instead. Both radiant systems transfer heat directly through the floor.
Even Room Temperature
Radiant heat is more consistent than forced air. Forced air systems must produce heat in the 120 to 140 degree Fahrenheit range to compensate for parasitic heat loss in the air ducts. The heat gets blasted into the room, which can make it uncomfortably hot. Shortly after, the rising hot air can create a draft, making you feel cold once more.
Rather than blasting hot air into the room, radiant systems provide warmth via infrared, which works better, the closer you are. Since the heat emanates from the floor, you’ll never have to worry about all your heat collecting at your ceiling. Radiant heating systems provide consistent heat from the floor, so you’ll feel warm even as the air rises. Due to their uniform heat distribution, radiant heat systems need only to operate around the 80 degree Fahrenheit range.
Forced air systems offer less control. Users are not able to isolate the room in which they want to heat and must waste power sending heat to their entire home — or an entire floor if they have a two-floor system. Since you may only need heat in the areas of your home that you use the most, you’re needlessly increasing your electric bill by heating unused areas. Radiant heating systems are more energy-efficient, meaning you’ll save money on your monthly power bill. On average, forced air systems use nine times the energy used by radiant heating.
Do you have questions about installing in-floor radiant heating in your new home? Our team at GenCorp Homes can tell you everything you need to know about how radiant heating can benefit you. Contact GenCorp Homes Inc today.