How Much Does Radiant Floor Heat Cost?

Electric radiant floor heat is cheaper than hydronic. But just how much cheaper?

If you install an electric radiant heat floor in your bathroom or kitchen it will probably cost you somewhere between $400 and $800. The same thing may cost over $4,000 for a hydronic system. By comparison, forced air heating would cost about $200 per room which is why almost all new homes are being built with forced air.

Hydronic radiant floor heat is so much more expensive for several reasons. You have to install a boiler or some other means of heating the water. Additionally, you have to get the pipes under the floor(s) and they usually are embedded in concrete. A complete hydronic radient heat system in a medium sized house can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 which is no small sum. If you are just building your new home, that is the best time to hydronic radiant heat. Doing it later makes it much too expensive and makes electric radiant heat the better choice.

The nice thing about electric radiant floor heat is that it is relatively easy to install in individual rooms such as the bathroom. Pads with electric circuits are put in under the floors and there are no moving parts like a hydronic system. Electric radient heat is the simpler choice for most people and the cheaper of the two kinds of heat.

Radiant Floor Heat - Outdoor Heat

You don't have to be inside to enjoy the benefits of radiant floor heat. If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow, you may want to consider installing radiant heat under their driveways and sidewalks. This would save hours upon hours of valuable time each winter not having to shovel snow and ice.

Having radient heat outside your business under the ground also saves your company from the prospect of being sued if a customer slips and falls. Snow and ice are a big problem that has to be dealt with immediately every time it snows for businesses. They must keep their walkways clear and safe to insure their customers safety and to prevent lawsuits from customers if they were to get injured.

Radiant floor heat is very convenient whether it is inside or outside. It is the maintenance free, silent heat that you take for granted once it is installed. After making the switch to radiant heat floors, you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Radiant Floor Heat - Electric Radiant Heat

Electric radiant floor heat works with electric wiring. Have you ever looked into your toaster to see what makes it hot? It is heated electirc wires that become very hot and this is the same concept that can heat your home.

Special mats with radiant floor heat cables or panels with wires are put under the floors of your home. These are attached to an electrical circuit with a control that can be turned on and off. This control is usally connected to a thermostat so that a constant temperature can be achieved.

If cables are used, they are often submerged in cement. Cables are most often used in floors which are tile or stone.

Electricity is historically expensive and for this reason most homes that have electric radiant heat floors have them only in the bathrooms and kitchen. Any room with stone or tile floors may also be a candidate for this type of heat because it is nice to walk on warm floors rather than cold ones.

Because special mats and foils can be used in many cases. electric radient floor heat is often the easier choice when considering what type of radiant heat to install. Electric radient heat is the clear choice for an existing home both for its ease of installation and the cost.

Radiant Floor Heat - Hydronic Heat

A popular form of radiant floor heat is hydronic. With this type of radiant floor heating system, water goes back and forth in tubing that is underneath the floor. Because it is usually incased in some form of concrete, hydronic floor heat is usually only installed in new homes. It is often too expensive and too difficult to put in existing homes.

The main advantage of a hydronic radiant floor heat system is that you can use many kinds of sources to heat the water. Gas, electricity, solar, geothermal, and a wood boiler are all possible methods of heating the water. This gives you flexibility if you need it.

A second advantage of hydronic heat floors is that water retains its heat much longer than electric wires. Hydronic radient floor heat works well under almost any type of floor surface and will usually be cheaper than using an electric system because of this warmth retention.

Modern technology has helped devise materials such as polybutylene or synthetic rubber tubing that is very safe and durable. Long gone are the days where hydronic radiant floor heat caused homeowners endless nightmares because the water leaked from the pipes or tubing.

Radiant Floor Heat - The Friendly Heat

One of the nice things about radiant floor heat is that it greets you right from the instant you get out of bed. The morning is usually cold and at least the floors are warm.

Unfortunately, most new houses come with forced air heating. When you get up in the morning you turn on the heat and you hear it being forced out of all the vents in the house. The air moves from room to room and the heating is very uneven. Forced air also is very bad for your skin as it pumps dry air into the house all day. As you get older, the dry heat affects you more as your skin naturally becomes dryer with age. The forced air heat only makes the problem worse.

Radient floor heat is much better health wise as it doesn't push air from room to room like a forced air system does. A radiant heat floor slowly and silently heats the floors which in turn heats the air. The heating is done very evenly and efficiently. Since there is no moving air from room to room, dust and allergens are less likely to be a problem. If you wanted you could install a wood burning boiler system to do much the same thing but that would be expensive as well.

Another benefit to radient floor heat is that it is less likely to lose air to the outside when you open a door. Forced air heating also forces air outside when you open a door. This doesn't happen with electric or hydronic radiant heating.

When considering whether to install radiant floor heat, you need to take into consideration whether the house is new or existing construction. Hydronic floor heat is usually only an option if the house is being built. Electric radiant floor heat is better suited to put into existing homes as it is much easier to install.

Radiant Floor Heat – The Different Methods

Radiant floor heat is achieved by inserting panels in the floor which are heated in one of three ways:

· By electrical circuits
· By water in pipes (hydronic)
· By air ducts in the panels

The biggest benefit to using a radiant heat floor system is comfort. While a system that uses forced air delivers heat that rises to the ceiling, a radient floor heat system emits heat from the floor and is able to deliver heat more evenly throughout a house or building. There are also many other benefits to radiant floor heat that will be discussed in future articles:

· Radient floor heat is totally silent.
· A Radiant heat floor is invisible as you don't see any vents on the floors or ceilings.
· There are usually energy savings. A radiant heat floor evenly distributes heat throughout a house which can allow your thermostat to be set 2-4° less than with a forced air system.
· You will have a healthier home. This is a major benefit of radiant floor heat. With forced air systems, you are constantly spreading dust , germs, and pollen as well as pumping in dry air which is bad for your skin. Not only is dry air bad for your skin but it is uncomfortable too when your skin is dry and flakey.