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The Pros and Cons of Radiant Heat

Every morning you step from your plushy bed onto the cold, hard ground and out into the chilly air. And every morning, it's a rude awakening — especially during frigid New Jersey winters. What if, instead, you felt soft, warm carpet underfoot; or heated ceramic tile floors? 

Radiant heating makes your home feel as pleasant as early summer days all year round. Some people install radiant heat in their bathrooms; others install it throughout their house. Knowing the basics, in addition to the pros and cons of radiant heat, can help you decide whether this type of heating is right for you.

What is Radiant Heat?

A radiant heat system transfers heat to the room through the floor. Although it's relatively uncommon in modern homes, radiant heat is an ingenious way to improve your quality of life while warming your space efficiently.

Radiant Heat Basics

How radiant heat works depends on the type we're talking about: electric or hydronic. 

Electric heat is supplemental, warming the floors through heat mats installed beneath the floor — but not the entire home. Wires running through the mats warm the floor to a comfortable 80 (or so) degrees.

Hydronic heat can be installed throughout the house and used as a home's sole heat source. Hot water running through pipes beneath the floor delivers warmth evenly throughout the home.

What are the Benefits of Radiant Floor Heating?

Radiant heat has many upsides. Let's stop to smell the roses. 


Forced air heating systems create a blowing noise that makes a sound in the background. As the forced air heating system cycles on and off, the noise in the background turns on and off. By contrast, radiant heat is silent heat, with no noise of air whooshing or blowing.

Energy Efficient

Traditional HVAC heating systems are inefficient, especially in older systems with leaky ducts and disrepair. Warm air leaks through your vents outside, costing you more to heat your home. Radiant heat systems, on the other hand, are energy efficient because as they generate heat, it naturally rises, warming your toes and the air simultaneously. 


Furnaces blow dusty air through the home, especially when the ducts become dirty. Radiant heat systems don't blow air at all! For this reason, radiant heat systems can increase comfort for people with allergies and reduce symptoms in the home. 


Forced air heat systems create drafts of warm air, cutting through the colder air in the home. The warmest places in the room are often the spaces right next to air vents. Radiant heat produces heat throughout the room without creating cold spots and hot spots.

Easy to Install at Time of Construction

Radiant heat installation is easy to perform in a home just being built or remodeled. If you're building a custom home, work with your contractor to purchase a radiant heat system for your new construction home.

It Just Feels Good

Still wondering, "Why do people like radiant heat?" Consider stepping out of your shower onto a warm, heated floor or waking up in the morning and putting your feet down on a heated carpet. Radiant heat is luxurious. It can make your morning, your evening, or your entire day more pleasant.


What are the Disadvantages of Radiant Energy?

If it sounded too good to be true, here's what you need to know about the disadvantages of radiant floor heating. 


Installation of radiant heating can be costly, especially if you're retrofitting an existing home with radiant heat. If you're building a new construction home, your contractor can help you work within your budget to install this type of flooring. Radiant heat is more affordable when only installed in one or two rooms. You can keep costs down by installing it in your bathroom only.

Floor Height Elevated

Radiant heating elevates the floor just a little bit. Many modern radiant heating systems lay as flat as possible to prevent unnecessary raising. If you're installing radiant flooring throughout the home, the lift in elevation will be uniform and thus unnoticeable. The change will be more noticeable if you install radiant flooring in one or two rooms. However, you can work with your builder to ensure the difference isn't apparent. 

Installation in an Existing Home is Disruptive

Installing radiant flooring means your floors have to go. Ripping them out and replacing them afterward adds much more work to the overall project. It's much easier to install radiant flooring in a new home, where the flooring materials can be installed directly on top of radiant heating elements.

underfloor heating and cooling indoor climate control for thermal comfort using conduction radiation

How Is Radiant Heating Repaired?

One of the concerns homeowners often express when installing radiant heat in their home is how it gets repaired should it break. Since radiant heat mats and pipes must be installed under the floor, reaching your radiant heating system to make a fix is not always an easy task. Fortunately, radiant heating is very durable and has a long service life. Repairs are not common.

When it does break down, repair people use devices to locate the specific location of the breakdown. Tiles from the floor are then carefully removed and re-installed. Typically, the disturbance to the surrounding flooring is minimal. Working with an experienced contractor can help ensure the work is long-lasting. 


Discuss Radiant Heat With Your Custom Home Builder

You now know the radiant heating pros and cons, but you still may have questions. Get the answers you need from a design-builder that regularly installs heated tiles in our custom homes. Answer your radiant heat and custom questions with GTG Builders LLC. We have 65 years of experience to aid you in creating the custom home of your dreams.


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