There is little disagreement in regards to radiant heating systems being the most efficient way to heat your home. Even though the installation costs can be twice as high as forced air, it is far more efficient, comfortable, and can save you 25%-50% in the long run in terms of cost. It is also healthier, as dry, force blown hot air can result in dry skin and an increase in dust mites, according the official website for the U.S. Department of Energy
Radiant heating could also be called floor heating since it radiates from electrical cables underneath your floor tiles. It allows the heat to resonate near the center of your body where it is needed most, rather than rise to the ceiling where your energy is being wasted. Also, the is absorbed into your floor and furniture. With forced air, you may feel warmth come from your heater but your floors and bed could still be ice cold.
There are two types of radiant heating systems, thermal heating systems which require a boiler and can run anywhere from $10,000- $14,000 in installation costs, according to Popular Mechanics. These produce heat through thermal energy radiating from water pipes installed in your home and require the purchase of a boiler. For the purposes of this article, which is supposed to be about self-installation, we will focus on electric radiant heating which heats your home through a wire system under your floor is far cheaper at a $300-$400 per square feet according to SunTouch.net and you can save even more money if you install it yourself. A thermal, water pipe heating system would probably require a professional unless you are a big time do it your self expert.
The installation is rather simple for an electrical system. You will still probably have to have a professional look at your home and approve an overall design and consult an electrician to ensure that you’re not going to do anything that could expose yourself to any live wires. You will need a 15- to 20-amp GFCI-protected circuit which will power the entire radiant heating system, according to the home improvement magazine This Old House.
This article includes a link to a video that shows the installation process and it also has software that can help you plan you create a virtual design for your home. However, actually installing the system into your floor is not much more complicated than a home remodeling job such as replacing the tiles in your kitchen or bathroom and than installing the electrical wires that generate the heat and attaching it to a thermostat.
Just remove your floor tiles in the room you wish to install radiant floor heating. I would recommend purchasing your electrical cable system from SunTouch.net, which sells rectangular plastic patches with electric wires woven inside. Than, you can trim the edges of the patches to ensure that it matches your floor plan. It will save you a lot time and frustration vs. trying to manipulate the raw cable and trying to make sure that it’s evenly distributed throughout your room. It is recommended that you keep cables at least six inches away from walls, bathtubs and toilets.
Simply provide your cable company with your floor plan specs and they will give you the adequate amount of cable. Once you have the cables on your floor and it’s attached to a thermostat, all that’s left is just some simple , old fashioned tile work to cover the cable or SunTech patches and you can look forward to a more energy efficient, comfortable home for you and your family.
U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy