Radiant Floor Heating

I’m sure all my friends and readers who reside in Southwestern PA can certainly appreciate the following comment:  This 2015 winter has been BRUTAL!  I’ve lived in this region my entire life and I can not remember a winter this difficult when you consider the amount of snow and the exceptionally cold temperatures.

My wife Natalie and I own a 106 year old home that we kindly refer to as ‘the big, old house’.  While there is so much to love about the place, as one can imagine, heating the house in the winter months is a challenge.  We have recently looked into the idea of radiant floor heating.  It’s a very interesting concept. And while we are not sure if this modification is a good fit for our big, old home, I must admit that if I was in a newer home or was contemplating building a home or even adding an addition onto a home, I’d give radiant floor heating serious consideration.  installation

On Bob Vila’s website, Michael Franco penned a great article on radiant floor heating.

Michael defines radiant floor heating as an increasingly popular installation based on a network of pipes or wires set beneath floor level.  While radiant heat creates a comfortable surface to walk upon, it also transforms heat-stealing floors into surfaces that actually supplement the warmth you strive to foster in your home.

The 3 types of radiant floor heating are hot air, electricity or hot water.  Hot air is the least popular of the three and rarely used today based on cost and efficiency.

The electric method is popular but can be costly to run.  One strategy for minimizing running costs is to situate the system under a thick material like concrete. If you heat the floor during the electric provider’s off-peak hours, it can release that warmth slowly over the course of a day.


The most efficient system is hot water also called water-fed or hydronic.  Water heated in a boiler is pumped along lengths of flexible tubing. Though it can be handled in different ways, that tubing is typically fitted into the channels of specially designed subfloor panels.

Other benefits of radiant floor heating is that the systems are virtually quiet, unlike forced air furnace systems or baseboard heaters.  Radiant floor heating also heats evenly – unlike forced air or baseboard heating.    Also, radiant floor heating releases no harmful allergens and are as easy to clean as your flooring unlike the common complaints of allergens and dirt build up with forced air furnace systems.

For even more information, you can read Michael’s article here.

I also want to make reference of another article written by Lindsey Roberts on one of my favorite websites, houzz.com.  Lindsey comes at the subject from an interior design viewpoint and provides examples where radiant floor heating systems have been installed under concrete, slate, tile and wood floors


You can read Linsey’s article here

As a Realtor, I’ve shown some homes that were outfitted with radiant heated floors in bathrooms as well as in kitchens.  These were ceramic tile applications.  However, what’s great is that radiant floor heating can be installed under so many surfaces that if the home owner wanted to apply radiant floor heating in every room, the flooring type is typically not an obstacle.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts or experiences with radiant floor heating.  Have you considered installing it in your home?  Do you already have it?  If so, do you like it?  What type of floor material are you using?  Does it save you money in your overall monthly heating bill? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts and ideas.

Published by

Eric McKenna

Accomplished Realtor with Cowden Creek Realty. Creator and Host of The Eric McKenna Project. EMP is Pittsburgh's Talk Show.

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