Home » Tagged with 'Radiant Heating'

The Best Way to Heat a Home with High Ceilings

April 10, 2017

Radiant heating

Photo: warmboard.com

Don’t get left in the cold when you step into a lofty room! Upgrading to radiant floor heating will keep any size space cozy and comfortable.

By Steven Fox

As summer heat gives way to fall’s cooler temperatures, daily activities—from dinners to DIY projects—migrate back indoors. But really, how much more comfortable are you indoors with your current home heating system? Sure, being inside provides shelter from the elements, but it doesn’t always guarantee a consistent temperature (even when you’ve properly sealed off all air leaks to the outdoors). When you still have to bundle up before walking across your home’s icy floors or need to curl up with a blanket to work comfortably, you may wonder, What am I paying so much each month to heat? The answer is, you’re probably paying most to heat the ceiling and second floor rather than your primary living space. Settling for uneven temperatures or a heating system that underperforms isn’t the only option. Instead, consider a more direct, dependable, and energy-efficient alternative: radiant heat.

Radiant-heating systems aren’t new. In fact, ancient Korea used controlled fires to heat air chambers under floors and behind walls. Fast-forward a few thousand years, and the highly evolved innovative materials and designs behind today’s modern systems are capable of providing efficient, uniform heat that offers numerous advantages over traditional HVAC systems. Their silent, dust-free operation eliminates allergy problems often associated with heating ducts while distributing even heat underfoot. And, on top of all these benefits, radiant heating built into your home’s flooring aims to keep the living space comfortable—no matter how tall the ceiling.

Why Forced Air Falls Short
If you currently rely on forced-air heat and are fed up with its less-than-stellar performance, don’t be too quick to put all the blame on your heating system. The way your home is designed plays a part in how efficiently (or inefficiently) the rooms warm up. Think back to your elementary school science lessons, and remember: Hot air rises. When your forced-air heating system pushes heat out of its vents, the heat naturally rises toward the ceiling. Your rooms become cozily warm at the top, but remain chilly down below, where you do your actual living. 

To cope, shivering homeowners may move closer to the nearest vent or resort to cranking up the thermostat to achieve a comfortable temperature at ground level, producing more heat than actually necessary and ultimately costing more money to do so. For rooms with standard 9-foot ceilings, this law of science is simply an inconvenience; but in the case of high ceilings, upwards of 12 feet, it can be costly. In a two-story house, the result is too much heat upstairs, and the only solution is to open some windows to let the heat (the heat that you’ve just paid for) escape the house. What’s a homeowner to do?

Concentrating Heat Where You Need It Most
While forced-air systems push heat into a room in cycles, unaffected surrounding surfaces can remain cool to the touch and actually steal warmth from your body, leaving you chilly despite the fact that your heating system is working overtime. Radiant floor heating systems, on the other hand, are designed to deliver even heat throughout your rooms by radiating constant warmth from beneath your flooring. The process warms the cooler areas it encounters first—the floor, the furniture, and the people occupying the living space. Because radiant heat warms objects in the room as well as people, you won’t be giving up body heat to, say, that favorite chair of yours. It, too, will emit a welcoming warmth when you sit down, rather than cause you to reach for the nearest woolen blanket.

Choosing the Most Efficient Radiant System
Before committing to an upgraded heating setup, be it in that one lofty room or your whole house, working knowledge of the systems can help you optimize your energy savings with this already highly efficient system. Radiant floor heating travels through flexible hydronic tubes or electric coils installed either inside or adjacent to panels laid beneath your flooring material of choice. The system’s energy source and materials do vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and considerably impact the energy efficiency of this heating system.

Hydronic radiant floor systems lower fuel bills by utilizing a boiler to heat water within a network of tubes beneath your home flooring to relatively low temperatures. Because the whole floor receives even heat, the water doesn’t have to be as hot as what might run through a conventional radiator.

For best possible heat transfer, panels should be made with a very conductive material—aluminum is the most common. Depending on the specific alloy, aluminum can conduct heat 232 times more efficiently than lightweight gypsum concrete, a standard alternative. Put simply, a material that offers better heat transfer means you’ll get more heat, more quickly, and for less energy (and less money). The thin, highly conductive panels produced by industry leader Warmboard require the least energy to operate of any radiant-heating system, providing the same comfort as competing systems while the water in the hydronic tubes can be more than 30 degrees lower than the others. That alone translates into a 10 to 20 percent savings in your monthly energy bills compared to other radiant options!

Whether you are building a brand-new home with a bold design or already live with the luxury of high ceilings, you can ensure affordable everyday comfort by opting for radiant floor heating. Even if the ceiling heights in your home extend only slightly above average, there are enough compelling reasons to choose radiant heat—its ease on allergies, quiet operation, and seasonal energy savings—that the system shines in lofty areas and smaller home additions alike. Install a state-of-the-art radiant-heating system, and you and your family will enjoy its benefits for years to come.

Ready to switch to radiant heating?  Contact us today!

Jim Lavallee Plumbing
Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

7 Myths About Radiant Heat, Debunked

March 13, 2017

For once, industry experts agree on something: To keep your home warm through the winter months, there’s no method more comfortable than radiant heating. Although it earns praise for its virtually silent, dust-free, and energy-efficient operation, radiant heating exists in fewer than 10 percent of homes in the United States. Though more and more homeowners are choosing it over other systems, radiant technology hasn’t caught on nearly to the extent that it’s been adopted in Europe and Asia. Perhaps that’s because a certain degree of confusion and uncertainty still surrounds the concept of in-floor heating. Here are answers about the most beloved and least understood heating system in the country.

By Michael Franco

  • Myth #1


    Radiant heating is a newfangled technology. On the contrary, its origins stretch all the way back to Ancient Rome, where closely controlled fires fed heat into air chambers situated under floors and behind walls. In the United States, centuries later, it was none other than Frank Lloyd Wright who helped reintroduce the technology. It’s undergone continual development since then, gradually becoming a viable, if not superior, home heating alternative. Indeed, it may have taken a few thousand years for manufacturers to get right, but make no mistake, radiant heating has arrived.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #2


    Radiant systems heat the floor, not the home. That’s only true in certain cases, specifically with electric in-floor products meant to provide supplemental warmth in, say, the chilly master bath—or in any space the primary heating system (e.g., forced-air) fails to keep comfortable. That’s compared with hydronic radiant systems. The latter are not supplemental. On the contrary, hydronic radiant systems are installed instead of, not in addition to, a conventional heating system. Indeed, radiant systems like Warmboard deliver heat, not only to the floors, but throughout the entire home.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #3


    Because heat rises, radiant systems are doomed to fail. Actually, heat doesn’t rise. Hot air rises. That’s why forced-air systems are so often ineffective. When furnace-heated air blasts into a room, there’s momentary comfort. But then the warm air swiftly rises to the ceiling, leaving cool air in its place. Uneven temperatures are inevitable. Rather than transmit air, radiant systems transmit thermal radiation. Eventually, thermal radiation warms the air, but first it warms the cooler entities it encounters—the floor, the furniture, and yes, the people standing or sitting in the living space.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #4


    Radiant heating is all about energy efficiency. Forced-air systems are notoriously inefficient, in part because air ducts leak—often enough to diminish efficiency by over 20 percent. Plus, if and when warm air reaches the living space, it soon ends up, not where you can feel it, but hovering near the ceiling. By minimizing the heat loss associated with forced-air, radiant heating maximizes energy savings. But while homeowners appreciate lower bills, they truly love radiant for another reason: It’s even, “everywhere” warmth that arrives silently and without allergy-causing dust.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #5


    Radiant heating takes forever to warm up. That may be true in some cases, but not all radiant heating systems are equal. The least responsive are those with hydronic tubes set into thick slabs of concrete. Though concrete can absorb and store a considerable quantity of heat, it’s very sluggish. When used in home heating systems, it forces you to wait both while it warms up and cools down. Warmboard replaces concrete with aluminum, a material that conducts heat 232 times better than concrete. That way, when you adjust the thermostat, Warmboard panels respond right away.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #6


    Radiant heat does not offer precision control. Wrong. Radiant systems offer an unprecedented degree of control, because they are uniquely well suited to zoning. Whereas in a traditional system, a single thermostat controls the entire house, zoning allows you to set different temperatures in different rooms. That way, you don’t pay to heat unoccupied rooms. And, no matter the temperature preferences of your family members, everyone can be comfortable at the same time. If traditional heating provides a one-size-fits-all solution, then zoning offers a custom, tailored fit.

    Photo: warmboard.com

  • Myth #7


    Not all types of flooring can be used with radiant heating. In the past, popular wisdom held that only certain materials were suitable accompaniments for a radiant system. While professionals approved of tile, stone, and concrete, they cautioned against hardwoods and carpeting. Fortunately, like any other technology, radiant heating has come a long way in recent years. Today, you can pair Warmboard panels with virtually any commonly used floor material. Warmboard gives you total design freedom. You don’t have to make any sacrifices to be comfortable.

    Photo: warmboard.com


    Ready to update your heating system? Contact us today!

    Jim Lavallee Plumbing
    Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
    Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122


The Best Way to Avoid the Discomfort of Cold Floors

March 8, 2017

Put an end to the shock of waking up to icy floors—and frigid feet—by installing a cutting-edge heating system that provides all-encompassing, “everywhere” warmth. Read on, and you’ll discover that toasty tootsies are just one of the many benefits of radiant heating.

You never get used to it—the discomfort you feel when you roll out of bed and set foot on an ice-cold floor. But while some homeowners merely wince, stumble toward their slippers, and get on with their day, building pros recognize cold floors as a hallmark shortcoming of traditional heating systems like forced hot air. Forced-air HVAC, which surged in popularity during the postwar era, remained the dominant mode of residential climate control for more than 50 years. Recently, however, amid a tide of innovation, a number of new options have come onto the scene, each boasting performance and efficiency advantages over older, increasingly outmoded technologies. Of all the systems in common use today, one in particular—radiant heating—stands out for its ability to guarantee warm, welcoming floors while maintaining an overall level of wintertime comfort that even the latest high-tech equipment can’t match.

Radiant floor heating isn’t anything newfangled. In fact, with roots reaching all the way back to ancient Rome, radiant-heat technology has been undergoing continual development for centuries. Today, it’s more than just a viable whole-home heating alternative—it’s the system that many industry experts consider to be the new standard-bearer. But although radiant heating has been widely adopted in Europe and Asia, it remains relatively rare in the United States. That’s all changing, though, as more and more homeowners learn that the virtually silent, dust-free, and energy-efficient performance of radiant heating surpasses that of competing technologies, including, among others, forced air. Read on for details on the benefits of a system that delivers heat from the ground up, across every inch of floor space, fostering even, encompassing, “everywhere” warmth.



Cold Floors - Radiant Heat Panel Tubing

Photo: warmboard.com

First off, a point of clarification: Many homeowners labor under the misapprehension that radiant systems heat only the floor. That may be true of electric radiant systems, but hydronicradiant technology operates very differently. In an electric system, a network of cables installed under the floor generate on-demand supplemental heat. Such systems do a good job of making making the floor feel warm, but it’s rare for homeowners to rely exclusively on electric radiant heating for their heating system. Why? Well, electricity doesn’t come cheap. Hydronic systems, on the other hand, rely on efficiently boiler-heated water instead of costly electricity, enabling homeowners to enjoy affordable whole-home radiant heat. In a hydronic system, as hot water moves through tubes set into panels below the floor, heat radiates outward into the home, creating a qualitatively different kind of comfort.



Cold Floors - Radiant Heat vs. Forced Air

Photo: warmboard.com

Hydronic radiant heat isn’t only a viable means of heating the whole house. Many experts argue that it’s the best means of doing so, because by delivering heat from the ground up, radiant systems don’t merely eliminate the problem of cold floors. They also deliver something forced air never could—uniform temperatures from wall to wall and from room to room. If you’re familiar with forced air, you know that it’s warmest—too warm, in fact—right near the vent, and becomes cooler the farther away you go. Plus, quite soon after entering a room, the conditioned warm air in a forced-air system flies to the ceiling, where no one can feel it. Under these circumstances, if family and guests feel totally comfortable, it’s for only a fleeting moment. In contrast, by delivering warmth across every square inch of flooring, radiant heat provides steady, “everywhere” warmth that’s concentrated not above your head, but at the level where you need it most.



Cold Floors - Radiant Heat Panel Detail

Photo: warmboard.com

Perhaps more than any other technology, forced air has popularized the notion that in the winter you can either save money or enjoy a comfortable home, but you can’t do both. Why do forced-air systems cost so much to operate? One primary explanation: Ductwork, which is notoriously prone to leaking, especially at the seams, can lose energy, thereby compromising the overall efficiency of a forced-air system by 25 percent or more. With radiant heat, there’s no such heat loss and, as a consequence, no wasted energy. Still, bear in mind that while radiant heat always offers efficiency benefits over forced air, some radiant systems deliver greater efficiency than others. It all depends on the design of the system. Historically, radiant-heating systems relied on gypsum concrete, but that trend has been changing. Warmboard, for instance, builds panels with aluminum, a material whose exceptional conductivity allows the system to heat quickly while saving homeowners an extra 10 percent to 20 percent each month.



Forced-air heating doesn’t tick like baseboards or hiss like radiators. But when the system clicks on and the blower begins to blow, the rush of air through the ductwork creates a sustained “whoosh” not unlike the sound of an idling jet engine. One of the most appealing characteristics of radiant heating is that it calls no attention to itself whatsoever. Besides being virtually silent, the technology also goes a long way toward supporting indoor air quality. For allergy and asthma sufferers in particular, radiant heat can be like a breath of fresh air. Unlike forced-air systems and their dust-collecting ducts, radiant heating doesn’t distribute airborne impurities throughout the home. Nor does radiant heating traffic warm, dry air through the house, reducing the moisture content of the air—a big relief for homeowners who were accustomed to spending the winter with red eyes and a scratchy throat.


Finally, radiant heating enhances not only comfort in the home, but also aesthetics. Indeed, for some, radiant impresses most not for the quality of its comfort or the efficiency of its operation, but for its complete invisibility. Whereas forced-air vents require clearance and, as a result, dictate furniture arrangement, radiant heating places no such limitations on the homeowner. True, there was a time when the technology didn’t pair well with certain types of flooring. Today, however, modern panels from the most reputable manufacturers make radiant a compelling choice in any circumstance, even if the homeowner plans to put in wall-to-wall, thick-pile carpeting. Indeed, when it comes to the benefits of a heating system beloved by builders and homeowners alike, eliminating the discomfort of cold floors isn’t the be-all and end-all—it’s only the beginning.

Cold Floors - Radiant Heat Solution

Photo: warmboard.com

Ready to update your heating system? Contact us today!

Jim Lavallee Plumbing
Serving Eastern Massachusetts and the Boston area
Phone: Toll-free (888) 884-4122

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