Installing Radiant Floor Heating Systems: Benefits Over Forced Air Systems

Radiant floor heating is one of the most efficient means of heating your home. As most people know, heat rises. With that said radiant heating being from the ground up will heat a home more evenly, efficiently, and cost effectively. My husband, who is from Wyoming, knows the importance of this type of heating system. Imagine living in weather that can get below zero and have your standard forced-air heating system. The cost of heating the house would be so expensive and much of the energy is lost in the duct system.

Benefits of radiant floor heating VS forced air systems

Silent operation–No hum or whistle of a forced air system

Inconspicuousness of the system–You don’t see vents or hear air blowing.

Energy savings–Evenly distributed heat from radiant floor hating system can allow the thermostat to be set 2-4 degrees less than in a force air heating system. This can reduce energy costs by 10-40%. (Check with your local utility company to get an estimate of how much a 2-4 degree decrease would save in money).

A healthier home–Forced air systems can spread dust, pollen, and germs.

Even, quiet warmth-Even with wood, tile, or uncovered concrete floors.

Less likely to dry out-your breathing passages and skin. (Again, a healthier home!)

(Source: Concrete network,

What are the different types of radiant heating systems?

There are actually three different types of radiant floor heating. One of the three is more recommended and that will be my focus. The three types are air-heated radiant floors, electric radiant floors, and hydronic radiant floors

Air-heated radiant type floor: This type is the least efficient and is not as cost-effective as the other two. This type of application is very rarely used in residential homes since the air can’t hold large amounts of heat.

Electric radiant type floor: Work very when installed under a concrete slab type of flooring. Unfortunately, due to the much higher cost of electricity, are most cost efficient with a significant thermal mass, such as concrete. This type of system has electric cables built into the floor or you can use mats that are made of electrically conductive plastic and mounted on the subfloor. Since the concrete flooring has a larger mass, it will store the heat and keep the house comfortable for 8-10 hours after the concrete has been “charged” with heat.

Hydronic radiant type floor (Most popular): This is a liquid type system and is also considered the most cost-effective of the three. As I mentioned before, if you live in a climate that can have really long, cold winters, this is the best option. This system pumps heated water from a boiler and goes through tubing beneath the floor. Some of the hydronic floor type of systems evens allows you to control the temperature in individual rooms with using zoning valves or pumps/thermostats to control the flow of hot water.

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Installation (Step-by-step) resources for do-it-yourselfer’s.

Below is a You Tube video on the installation of hydronic radiant flooring under a concrete slab.

Popular Mechanics website shows a step-by-step guide (with photos) on how to install Staple-Up radiant flooring. This is for homes that have basements and you will be attaching it to the ceiling joists below the various rooms.

I found a great website that actually has free DIY manuals you can acquire from them for all types of installation applications. They state the guides are easy to read, with step-by-step instructions, pictures and diagrams.


The cost in installing a radiant flooring system for your do-it-yourselfer will vary depending on the size of the house, the type of installation, the remoteness of the site, and how readily available the supplies are. In general the average cost per square foot will run about $2.00/sq foot. The average time it takes is about 4 hours or more per room depending on the size.

Radiantec’s website allows you to plug in various detailed information and the company will give you detailed information on the materials you will need and a price quote depending on your type of installation. They will also fully support you and help you with questions you have during your project.

As quoted by Radiantec, “you will receive a comprehensive quote for your project which will include design assistance, a materials worksheet detailing the zones and what material goes where, estimated heat-loss calculations, and a breakdown of the components with pricing.”

They can also help you estimate about how much time it might take for your type of project.

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