Radiant floor heating is probably the oldest known central heating system. Those comfort-loving Romans first developed it 2,000 years ago. Modern radiant heat doesn’t involve slaves tending fires in the basement, though. Instead, hot water is circulated through tubing hidden in a sub-floor, and nowadays it is designed for use with any finished flooring, including hardwood and carpet.
Compared with other modern heating systems like forced hot air, radiant floor heating dramatically improves indoor air quality: It is less drying and there’s no blowing dust and allergens throughout your home. Further benefits include a quiet operating system and, with newer technology, lower operating costs than either old radiators or hot-air systems.
Fuel efficiency means lower environmental impact, too. Last year, Sustainable Industries magazine voted California-based radiant flooring system Warmboard (www.warmboard.com) as one of its Top 10 Green Building Product winners. Warmboard’s inventor, Terry Alsberg, improved conductivity in basic sub-floor radiant heating panels by adding an aluminum lining. But, even he admits that radiant heating remains more expensive to install than conventional systems.
The biggest pay off, he says, is how good radiant heat feels: “The main reason people have radiant heating is for the incredible comfort. It feels so good, and it’s quiet and dust-free.”