How to cut home heating costs this winter
(ARA) - Some savvy homeowners are having their cake and eating it too when it comes to energy-efficient home heating. Imagine cutting your heating bills, while boosting your home's comfort. Sound too good to be true? Not for the thousands of homeowners who are using radiant floor heating, one of the oldest and most efficient means of heating a home.
The technology, dating back to the ancient Romans, uses warm water to heat the floor, instead of a furnace to heat the air. Modern radiant systems pump warm water through an in-floor network of PEX tubing (crosslinked polyethylene), which, in essence, turns a home's entire floor into a massive whole-room radiator.
Many families actually feel warmer at a lower thermostat setting with radiant floor heating than at a higher temperature required with conventional forced-air heating systems. Studies conducted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) indicate that people with radiant heating systems can be comfortable at temperatures 6 to 8 degrees lower than with forced-air systems. The lower thermostat setting means using less energy and saving more money.
Feel warmer at a lower temperature
Picture a beautiful sunny day. It's 65 degrees outdoors, and you are standing under a large tree. You may feel a bit chilly if there's a breeze; but as soon as you step into the sunlight, you're comfortable again. The air temperature is roughly the same in both sun and shade, but you feel OK because the sun's radiant heat waves warm you directly.
The same concept applies to a home with radiant floor heating. As the invisible waves of thermal radiation rise from the floor, they warm you and all the surrounding furnishings, which radiate that captured heat.
Contrast that with what happens in a conventional forced-air heating system, the kind found in most American homes. Hot air blows out of the registers and rises to the top of the room where it quickly sheds heat and then drops back down as it cools.
In a radiant home, all that warmth stays at the floor level where the people and, most importantly, their feet live. And if your feet are warm and comfortable, chances are, so are you.
"Because radiant heating warms people and objects directly - as opposed to the surrounding air - residents are more comfortable, while often using less energy," explains Mark Hudoba, senior product manager, Residential Heating and Cooling, at Uponor North America, a manufacturer of PEX-based radiant heating systems. "Radiant systems tend to yield consistent temperatures throughout the space. In homes heated with forced air, the temperatures can vary by more than 15 degrees between floor and ceiling."
Moreover, because the distribution of heat is more evenly circulated, there is less need to "overheat" a home in order to compensate for spaces that seem too cool because of drafts or poor insulation.
New and existing homes
A radiant heating system can be installed during new-home construction or added to an existing home. Even if you choose not to opt for radiant heat throughout your new home, the builder can still install the PEX tubing in the basement floor or - if you don't have a basement - in the home's concrete slab. Radiant technology is also perfect for heating a single bathroom or a kitchen.
Other benefits of radiant heating include:
* Healthy atmosphere: Since a radiant system needs no fans or blowers to move its heat, family members with allergies are not subjected to the circulation of dust, mold, bacteria, viruses and pet dander throughout the home.
* Quiet operation: No fans and blowers also means no noise.
* Interior design options: Radiant heating allows you to place furniture wherever you want with no concern about blocking air vents.
* Fuel flexibility: Radiant floor heating systems can accommodate a variety of energy sources: from the conventional (gas-, oil- or wood-fired boilers) to the cutting-edge (solar thermal systems and geothermal systems) - or even a combination of both.
Ask anyone who's had the pleasure: Once you've experienced the joys of radiant heating, you'll never want to go back to a conventional system. For more information, visit www.uponor-usa.com .
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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