Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. Despite its name, radiant floor heating depends heavily on convection, the natural circulation of heat within a room as air warmed by the floor rises.
Radiant heating has a number of advantages. It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses. People with allergies often prefer radiant heat because it doesn't distribute allergens like forced air systems can. Hydronic (liquid-based) systems use little electricity, a benefit for homes off the power grid or in areas with high electricity prices. Hydronic systems can use a wide variety of energy sources to heat the liquid, including standard gas- or oil-fired boilers, wood-fired boilers, solar water heaters, or a combination of these sources.
If radiant floor heating sounds appealing but cost prohibitive, electric mats for kitchens and bathrooms are often a more affordable alternative to a whole house system. Imagine stepping out of the bath onto a warm floor!
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