Are Heated Floors Worth It? Types & Benefits

Did you know that hypocausts, a radiant heating system, were used in the Roman Empire?

While radiant floor heating can be costly, it’s way better than forced-air heating systems in terms of convenience and efficiency. Heated floors keep the house warm without using too much electricity or taking up too much space.

If you install radiant floor heating, your air conditioner, electric or gas heater, furnace, or any other forced-air heating technique you typically use to heat your home indoors during the winter may become obsolete. In fact, you use up to 25% less energy to heat the house.

Being a minimalist, I installed radiant floor heating in my home office to gauge whether it was worth it. I based my decision on the small size of the office, hence less floor area to install heating apparatus, which is cheaper in the end. I noticed that, besides being warmer, the room also had more space since I did away with the corner heater. Looks good.

Making a Heated Floor

What are heated floors?

Heated floors involve heat produced by hot water pipes or electric wires beneath the flooring in a method known as radiant floor heating. The heat then rises and uniformly warms the space from below. 

Given that no oversized radiators or vents take up space, radiant floor heating is an effective way to heat a room. Compared to radiant heating systems, conventional heating methods like fireplaces and space heaters are less effective because they heat the air indirectly. 

This results in unequal heat distribution in a room because hot air rises while cold air sinks. By physically warming the furniture and occupants of a space, radiant floor heating gets around this problem.

In heated floors, warm water is circulated through pipes to heat the flooring or electrical resistance is created by running current through wires to heat the floors. The remainder of the space is then equally warmed by radiation as the heat radiates upward.

Advantages of heated floors

Radiant heated floors are the height of comfort and elegance. It is quite appealing to think of having warm floors to walk on during the chilly winters or enjoying the warm floors while you prepare for the day. Since I mostly work from home, I have an easier time focusing in the colder months when at my desk, thanks to it.

Some of their advantages include the following:

Advantages Disadvantages
Even floor and room heatingNew Flooring required
No maintenance neededElevates the floor
QuietHigh cost of purchase and installing
Don’t spread allergensFloor repairs require professionals
Easy to install
Don’t change the look of the house
Allow for individual room temperature control
Don’t dry the air
Increase the resale value of the home
Pros and cons of heated floors

1. Even heating

Their main advantage is the capacity of floor heating systems to heat a space and floor evenly. Forced-air heating systems use vents to disperse warm air throughout a space. Which areas of the room are warmer than others depends on where the vents are located. 

Contrarily, underfloor radiant heating heats the entire floor, resulting in a uniformly heated room and a comfortable environment around you. As a result, you will tolerate lower ambient temperatures because there won’t be any chilly drafts.

2. No maintenance is required

Routine maintenance is not necessary for radiant floor heating. Once installed, they will function flawlessly for 20+ years. You can mop wood or other floors as you would flooring without heating.

3. Quiet

Consider focusing on your work while a furnace is running in the background. Concentration would be pretty challenging, right? Because radiant floor heating systems are so quiet and produce little to no noise, this is not a problem. 

In contrast to forced-air systems, no furnace starts up loudly. Heating pumps can produce noise from 18 to 60 decibels, which is quite distracting. I can attest to this, given the increased tranquillity in my office.

4. Doesn’t spread allergens

Due to the lack of air movement caused by radiant floor heating, the space is free of dust and other allergens. Those who struggle with allergies or asthma would greatly benefit from this.

5. Energy-saving

Radiant floor heating is the most energy-efficient way to heat your home. They are at least 15% to 25% more energy-efficient than forced-air heating systems. This is because the heat is dispersed evenly across the space, negating the need to overheat it to make up for chilly patches.

On average, radiant floor heating uses 12 watts per hour per square foot. For a 100-square-foot floor, it comes to 1200 watts per hour. This is 300 watts less than a space heater for the same area of flooring.

Additionally, because it doesn’t rely on ducting that may leak heat, radiant floor heating is particularly effective and has relatively low operating costs. Operating the system will only cost you less than $1 daily for a typical bathroom.

6. Easy to install

Electric floor heating systems are so simple to install that even an experienced do-it-yourselfer can accomplish it. 

Floor heating systems can be employed under practically any type of flooring, depending on various factors, including project budget and installation capability.

Another benefit of installing radiant floor heating is that no extra ductwork is needed, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

Disadvantages of heated floors

There are two sides to every coin, and radiant heated floors are no exception. Although there are many advantages, you should also be aware of some of their disadvantages.

1. New flooring is required

You will need to replace your current flooring to install radiant heated floors. This is due to the necessity of installing radiant heated floors beneath the new flooring. 

Tile is the material of choice for radiant heated floors because it transfers heat well. However, there are several additional options you can pick from, such as laminate over hardwood, floating hardwood, nailing hardwood, vinyl (including LVT), etc.

2. Elevate the floor height

Your current flooring will be lifted by around an inch since radiant heated floors must be laid on top of a subfloor. If you have doors that swing into the room, this could be a problem because they might not clear the new flooring.

3. High cost

Radiant heated floors might be more expensive to install than other heating systems. Electric floor heating systems range from $10 to $20 per square foot, depending on your chosen model.

Remember that having heated floors doesn’t remove the innate shortcomings of a given type of floor. For example, hardwood floors can still be dangerous to dogs, whether heated or not.

Types of radiant floor heating

Radiant floor heating comes in two types: electric and hydronic.

1. Electric radiant floor heating

Electrical resistance is used to generate heat in electric radiant floor heating systems through mats or wires beneath the floor. The electric elements are braided in a serpentine pattern to deliver heat uniformly.

Installation of electric radiant floor heating is simple and do-it-yourself friendly. They are also better suited to smaller spaces or rooms and are generally more affordable. 

Furthermore, they are adaptable and work with many kinds of flooring. And finally, a well-designed electric floor heating system practically requires no upkeep.

2. Hydro floor heating 

Hot water heating, also referred to as hydronic floor heating, employs heated water circulated through plastic pipes. The water’s heat warms the floor and, in effect, the entire space.

Compared to electric heating, hydronic radiant floor heating can be used to warm larger spaces. But, compared to electric radiant floor heating, which generally takes 30 to 50 minutes to heat up, it takes longer. 

This implies that before you need the heat, you might need to leave them on for a few hours. Additionally, they cost more to install but, with good upkeep, can survive for decades. Since the installation is more complicated, a specialist is needed.

Are heated floors worth it?

In terms of comfort and price, heated floors are worthwhile. Depending on the system you select, the initial costs of underfloor heating may be high, but they are pretty low in the long run.

Finally, heated floors are the most energy-efficient compared to any conventional house forced-air heating system. Switching to a radiant system has been shown to reduce energy bills by 25% for many houses.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the disadvantages of underfloor heating?

The downsides to underfloor heating include the following:

  • High installation costs. 
  • Long installation time. 
  • Raised floors. 
  • Requires professional installation. 

Are heated floors a good investment?

The even distribution of heat provides at least 15% savings on heating bills in the home. As such, besides the warm and cozy house, you also save money with heated flooring. 

Do heated floors use a lot of electricity?

Heated floors use 12 watts per hour per square foot on average. For a 100-square-foot room, you’ll use 1,200 watts per hour, which is 300 watts less than an average space heater. Therefore, heated floors don’t use a lot of electricity.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *