Hot Tips for Warm Floors: Radiant heat delivers targeted warmth and comfort underfoot

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Nothing’s better than
stepping onto a warm floor on a cold morning, and nothing can make that great
start happen like radiant heating. A smart system that generates targeted heat
from the ground up, radiant heat is also efficient, either on its own or in
combination with existing home comfort systems.
Like many of the best home design
ideas, radiant heating is an

Nothing’s better than

stepping onto a warm floor on a cold morning, and nothing can make that great

start happen like radiant heating. A smart system that generates targeted heat

from the ground up, radiant heat is also efficient, either on its own or in

combination with existing home comfort systems.

Like many of the best home design

ideas, radiant heating is an approach with a long history. The Romans first

used it to warm up enclosed spaces in their homes around 60 A.D., and

architectural luminary Frank Lloyd Wright helped it reach another plateau of

popularity in his 20th Century designs. Improved materials now make

the warming technology more reliable and attainable than ever, and worth

considering for both new builds and remodels.

How it works

Radiant heating comes in

both electric and hydronic forms, with the latter being the most common. In a

hydronic system, heated water courses through a network of crosslinked

polyethylene (PEX) tubing installed in a concrete slab or on top of the

subfloor. As the water moves along, it transfers its warmth to the slab,

effectively turning it into a large-surface-area radiator that then moves the

heat through flooring and into living spaces. Though the water’s

style='font-family:Arial'>temperature

is relatively low (usually between 90 and 100 degrees), the components of a

hydronic radiant heating system make the most of it for sustained, even

comfort.

A hydronic radiant heating

system is powered by a hot water heater and controlled by a thermostat.

Offering design flexibility and zonability, it’s a great solution for

hard-to-heat areas like basements, bathrooms and attached garages, and works to

warm up flooring materials including wood, tile, carpet, natural stone and

linoleum.

Po

style='font-family:Arial'>ssible applications

So many smart, affordable

radiant heating solutions now exist that it’s easy to implement their

efficiencies into just about any home. New builds are the best opportunity for

installation of a custom-designed, whole-house system, but you can also add

radiant heat to an existing home with an aftermarket strategy like

href="http://www.uponor-usa.com/">Uponor’s Quik Trak system. With Quik

Trak, special half-inch-high wood panels are installed over an existing

concrete slab or plywood subfloor, and grooves down the center of each panel

hold the water-bearing PEX tubing. Your flooring of choice is then installed

over the panels, and Quik Trak is ready to go to work, circulating warmth in

the living space.

Other radiant applications

include installation in walls and even ceilings for added climate control, and

systems made to keep walkways and driveways clear of ice and snow in climates

where winters are especially harsh.

Efficiency, economy and

healthful heating

Bring radiant heating into

your life, and you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. By creating and

keeping warm air close to you instead of spurring its natural tendency to rise

uselessly toward the ceiling, room tempe

style='font-family:Arial'>ratures are maintained, making it possible to either

go solo with radiant or spend fewer dollars operating an existing heating

system. There are no blowers involved in a radiant system, so it won’t send

allergens and other harmful particulates into the air your family

style='font-family:Arial'>breathes.

What’s more, it’s quiet, and opens up surface floor space in the absence of

vents and bulky components.

Continuing strides in

heating technologies are worth keeping an eye on as well, as green-thinking

designers and engineers work to develop such solutions as solar thermal water

heating that will only add to the efficiency and appeal of radiant heating.

Note:

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'>

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'>Tom Kraeutler

style='font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial'> is the

href="http://journals.aol.com/tomsmoneypit/tom-kraeutlers-home-improvement-/?ncid=AOLCOMMre00CRSSextl0003">Home

Improvement Editor for AOL and host of

title="The Money Pit">The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home

improvement radio program. To find a

href="http://moneypit.where2getit.com/">local radio station, download the

show’s podcast or

sign-up for Tom’s free weekly

title="The Money Pit e-Newsletter">e-newsletter, visit the

href="http://www.moneypit.com/" title="The Money Pit">program’s website.

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