Updated February 1, 2019 . AmFam Team
If you've been trying to find the middle ground between a warm, cozy home and a heating bill that doesn't feel like a punishment, then you may be interested in radiant floor heating.
Have you ever held a hot coffee mug on a chilly morning? The heat inside the cup radiates outward, warming your hands. Radiant floor heating works a lot like that.
Central heating systems heat the air in your furnace before blowing it through ducts and vents. Radiant floor heating is a network of winding channels installed under your flooring. They can also be installed in walls and ceilings, although floor systems are the most popular.
What does radiant floor heating offer over traditional heating? Quite a lot!
Energy savings. The increased comfort of radiant floor heating often means you can feel more comfortable with your thermostat at a lower setting. And it could save you hundreds of dollars per year! It also makes it a very environmentally-friendly system, lowering your energy footprint compared to most other systems.
Longevity. Radiant floor heating systems can last for 35 years before they need to be replaced, according to Realtor.com (Opens in a new tab). This is an investment that will be with you for a long, long time.
Greater comfort. Because the heat is coming up through your feet, it takes less energy to provide more comfort.
Even heating. Radiant heat is even because it covers the entire floor. So no matter where you are in the room, you're still near a heat source.
If that sounds like a step up from traditional heating systems, rest assured that it is. But why doesn’t every home have radiant floor heating?
Cost. Radiant floor heating isn’t cheap (Opens in a new tab). On average, it costs $3,650 to install — but it can range as high as $10,000. That doesn't count the cost of remodeling (tearing up existing floors) if it isn’t part of the original construction.
And keep in mind that if you have radiant floor heating, you’ll still need the usual heating ductwork if you want central air conditioning for the warmer months.
Access. Once installed, a radiant floor heating system can be hard to access and troubleshoot — especially if it’s been installed in concrete. This may require tearing up the floor to make repairs if something goes wrong.
Lead times. Radiant floor heating can be slow to get started, requiring plenty of time to heat a home properly. It might lack the responsiveness that homeowners are used to with central heating systems.
Whether radiant floor heating is right for your home will depend on a few factors. Consider your budget, furnace and how much you want to save on energy. Is it a simple, less expensive install? Or will you have to do a major renovation to accommodate the new system? Radiant heating is hard to beat in efficiency and life expectancy. Its popularity has endured all this time for a reason.
Once you’ve installed your radiant heating system, make sure you keep it protected. Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to find out how homeowners insurance can safeguard your system from the unexpected.