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Can I use underfloor heating to heat my entire home?

When it comes to heating a home, under floor radiant heating is the most comfortable choice. However, forced air heating systems have dominated the market for many years, and it seems that this trend will continue. Forced air heating systems are popular because of their relatively low installation costs and in my opinion, they have remained popular because HVAC contractors are comfortable with installing these systems. A benefit of forced air delivery systems is that they can perform the task of both heating and cooling the entire home, but this versatility comes at a price. The downside of forced air heating systems is that they are not designed to meet the comfort needs of the human body, as they are heating the air, rather than the body. Furthermore, they are less efficient than under floor heating systems, noisier, and blow dust and allergens around the home. Ask any heating engineer and he will tell you that it’s not easy to effectively heat air. Hydronic radiant floor heating systems are fully capable of heating the entire home. These systems can be installed in concrete floors, or either on top of or below wood subfloors to heat additional levels in homes. However, the downside to installing hydronic radiant floor heating systems is not being able to provide air conditioning through the same system. Manufactures and engineers are working on a radiant cooling system, but in most parts of the country, these systems have not been perfected. However, homeowners who are interested in installing a cooling system along with radiant floor heat can use a mini split air conditioning system. These systems provide air conditioning without the use of duct work.Hydronic under floor heating systems have a number of benefits including saving energy, providing an even distribution of heat and reducing the movement of allergens. These systems are low maintenance, operate quietly and are easily zoned to maximize energy savings. The single greatest advantage of these systems is that they provide the most comfortable heat – period. Case and point: When my wife and I were building a four-level split home in Minnesota back in 1999, we were concerned with the total cost of the project. In general, homeowners tend to be concerned with the aesthetics of their new home and not as concerned with their heating and cooling systems. They pay more attention to the counter tops and cabinets, or their floor coverings than items that actually make their space attractive. This is exactly what my wife was thinking. She believed hydronic under floor heating systems were extremely expensive and was not willing to fit one into our budget. She felt it would take money away from other niceties that we could add to our home. Also, she only knew about forced air heating systems, and thought we shouldn’t invest in hydronic when almost everyone has forced air heating systems!To make a long story short, I convinced her that an under floor heating system was the best way to maximize the comfort of our new home. Now, we could have done what most couples do when planning their new houses, and let the contractor specify standard features, such as a forced air heating and air conditioning system. My background told me differently, and I’m extremely happy that I stuck with my choice... and so is my wife.I will never forget the very cold winter day when she told me that the under floor heating system was the best decision we made for our new home. I recall looking over at our children sprawled out on the concrete floor enjoying cartoons on the TV. I think they were really enjoying the comfort of the under floor heating system, too. If we’d gone with the standard forced air heating system, we wouldn’t have fully maximized the comfort of our lovely new home due to the uneven temperatures caused by forced air heating. And once the utility bills started arriving, it affirmed our choice and showed that we were saving energy and being more comfortable at the same time. Like their hydronic cousins, electric under floor heating systems will also provide the comfort benefits of under floor heating. These systems are also clean, quiet and can be easily zoned to maximize energy savings. Unlike hydronic under floor heating systems, most electric systems are not capable of heating the entire home. However, The STEP Warmfloor heating system is capable of heating the entire home and will certainly out-perform inefficient forced air heating systems when it comes to heating a small room or the entire home. A colleague once told me, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you always got.” In terms related to heating your home, if you heat with forced air like most have done before, you will never achieve the superior level of comfort that an under floor heating system provides. Make a change and install an under floor heating system for your home. It will change the dynamic of your entire home, and keep your family warm and comfortable.