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Is radiant-floor heating a good heating choice for a new green home, such as a passive solar house?

Question: Radiant floors are touted as saving energy, although they’re fairly expensive. A 2002 BuildingGreen.com article, Radiant-Floor Heating: When It Does-and Doesn’t-Make Sense, suggests that radiant floors aren’t necessarily a good option in passive solar or superinsulated homes. Is that still accurate today or have there been recent developments we should know about? – Cynthia Free, Portland, Oregon

Answer: Radiant-floor heating is a great heat-distribution option … for lousy houses. In new construction, I argue that it makes a lot more sense to take the $10,000 or more you would spend on a radiant floor slab and put it into the house envelope (R-40 walls, R-60 roof, R-20 foundation, triple-glazed, double-low-e windows, etc.). Get the heating load so small that just a small woodstove or electric mini-split heat pump would provide all the heat that’s needed; in a compact house you won’t even need distributed central heat. It’s not only a matter of economics, but in a superinsulated house, a radiant slab isn’t a good thermodynamic fit, because to avoid overheating the space the slab temperature has to be kept so low (just a degree or two above the air temperature) that it won’t even be warm to the touch.

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Energy, Floors, Green Home

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1 Response

  1. Radiant floor heating saves more energy to keep the house more warm. As there are many best sites for researching and purchasing radiant floor systems. Good options opened to know more.

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