As millions of homeowners have discovered, radiant underfloor heating is the most comfortable – and efficient — heat available. An idea first used by the Romans in 60 AD, it is now is the most popular type of heating in England, Central and Western Europe. Today it is also becoming increasingly popular in log home designs as it is particularly well suited for this type of structure and homeowners can install the systems themselves, leading to considerable savings up front.
The basic concept of radiant heating and cooling is simple. Heating tubes are laid down before the floor is poured (in concrete slab floors) or are affixed along joists under the floor. Once in place, the tubing contains circulating hot water (or cold water for cooling) heated by a boiler, hot water heater, or solar collectors. The result is an even, comfortable heat with no blasts of hot air to stir up dust or dirt. In addition, the solid wall construction of a log home makes hiding pipes and vents very difficult. Radiant underfloor heat solves this problem. The absence of unsightly vents, ductwork and radiators also provides added space and flexibility in floorplan design.
Either in a concrete slab or stapled up under wooden floors, this form of heat (and cooling) works particularly well in open floorplans with high ceilings as is found in many log homes. A poured slab is a tremendous thermal mass that holds heat for a long period. With both installations, the heat stays at floor level where the people are, not up at the ceiling or flowing out window seams or wall cracks. Superior comfort and efficiency together with the benefits of a safer, quieter and more environmentally friendly system have made this technology the fastest growing heating method. But cost savings are what attracts many radiant heat users. Not only does the system itself cost less than conventional systems, but operating cost savings of 30 – 50% are common for most homes. Combined with solar collection panels, the savings are even more dramatic!
Open Direct System
The latest development in this heating technology is known as the open direct system. This system uses the same domestic hot water heater that makes hot water for bathing and laundry to provide space heating, too. The water heater essentially serves as the furnace/boiler as well. Everything in the system is made of materials that are fit to drink from, and a plumbing detail prevents stagnation of the water in heat tubes during the summer when space heating is not required.
The benefits of the open direct system are threefold: The principal advantage is cost efficiency . Log homeowners save thousands of dollars as there is no need to buy a boiler or furnace at all. Second, it is more energy efficient because the standby losses of a boiler or furnace are avoided, something that can be quite significant. And the lower operating temperatures of a high quality domestic hot water heater means less heat goes up the chimney. The lower operating temperatures of a high quality hot water heater enable it to achieve efficiencies of up to 95%. The system also provides limited free cooling in the summer to save on air conditioning costs. Third, the open direct system can be designed to use solar energy initially or be readily converted to solar — the most environmentally friendly heat source on earth.
New log homeowners using these radiant heat systems confirm what radiant converts have known all along — when your feet are warm, you feel warmer all over! Because the heating system is installed within the floor, the air temperature is always highest at floor level and decreases steadily toward the ceiling. Studies have shown that people are comfortable at lower temperatures with radiant so the thermostat can be set lower. Unlike hot air heat, the moisture content of the room is more stable, and because no blowers or fans are required, the systems are quiet and dust free.
While ease of installation and comfort are reasons enough to invest in a radiant heating system, there are other important considerations like cost-savings and energy efficiency. The savings begin with the purchase of a Radiantec system, which costs considerably less than most other radiant underfloor systems. The reasons? Simpler technology, a less costly heat tube solution and consumer-direct marketing
As the country stands at the brink of another serious energy supply problem, the energy efficiency of a radiant system makes more sense than ever. Fuel consumption with radiant heat is considerably lower and consequently, so are the gas or oil bills. While radiant heat can be fueled by any heat source, solar offers the most economical alternative and is fast becoming the solution of choice for the those who want a non-polluting system with a stable fuel cost that delivers safe, clean heat.
“Our goal is to make radiant heating technology as simple as possible without compromising performance,” explains Radiantec’s Bob Starr. “The performance of our systems is unsurpassed, yet Radiantec systems cost less than most others on the market.”
Radiantec – A Pioneer in the Field
A leader in this field, Radiantec sells its systems direct to contractors/builders/consumers rather than through dealers, and systems are designed to be easy to install. Radiantec consultants work directly with builders to design the right system for their project. The company provides purchasers with a detailed installation manual and offers additional assistance by telephone. “Like most Vermonters, we like to keep things simple, reliable and economical,” says Starr. “We designed those qualities into our heating systems.” Learn more at www.radiantec.com.
Robert Starr Founded in 1980 by Robert Starr, Radiantec is headquartered on a pristine hillside in Lyndonville, Vermont. A pioneer in the field of radiant and solar technology, Mr. Starr has won awards from the U.S. Department of Energy for heating system design. In fact, many designs were developed under grants from the Department of Energy and the National Board of Standards. Mr. Starr is recognized as one of the nation’s leading developers of alternative heating technology.