Underfloor Heating vs Forced Air – What should you get?

Your largest home energy expense, accounting for 45% of monthly energy bills according to the U.S. Department of Energy, home heating is often a source of budgetary and comfort frustrations for homeowners. Because of these concerns, it can make choosing a new home heating source an especially nail-biting experience, especially with the broad array of systems and technology on the market today. Among common choices for a heat source are forced air and radiant heat systems, two quite different but effective heat delivery methods. Which one is best for your home?

UnderFloor Heating vs forced air

Uncovering the Advantages & Disadvantages of Forced Air & Underfloor Heating

  • Forced Air
    Forced air systems, as their name implies, force warmed air through ductwork in the home with the help of blower components. These include gas and electric furnaces, as well as heat pump systems. Though forced air systems can warm rooms quickly, rooms cool equally as fast. This transference of heat through the air isn’t as efficient as other options, leaks and holes in ductwork, as well the cold temperatures where ductwork tends to be located (attics, basements) can lead to significant heat loss with forced air systems. Because heat also rises, lower levels and floors can be left cold. Air movement from vents can also create hot/cold zones, stir up dust and allergens, and have the paradoxical effect of cooling you even though the air blown on your body is warm. Retrofitting older homes for necessary ductwork and mechanical components can also be challenging.
  • Underfloor Heating
    In radiant floor or underfloor heating systems, heat produced by water, electricity or air is distributed through the home via direct contact with surfaces from under-floor tubing/components. Transferring thermal energy directly to surfaces, heat is later transferred to you and other objects in your home via infrared radiation. Allergy-friendly and consistent, these systems better eliminate heat loss due to rising heat, proving more efficient than forced air systems in studies. They also provide more quiet, even heat distribution with far less unsightly equipment – however they are not without their drawbacks. Though underfloor heating systems maintain a more constant temperature than their breezy cousins, sub-floor components can be difficult to access should maintenance needs arise. And the flipside of the continuous level of warmth these systems provide: It takes a longer time to reach comfortable temperatures. It is also difficult – but not impossible – to use these systems for cooling (which would require a chiller or geothermal heat pump). Installation cost is also higher than forced air systems, with retrofits in older homes resulting in additional expense and complication, however radiant systems can save considerable money over the long run in higher efficiency.

Is there a Customer Favorite?
Although forced air systems are more common, advancements in underfloor heating are making it an increasingly popular option, with many homeowners choosing to incorporating both forced air and underfloor heating in the home, most typically incorporating (standalone) radiant systems in kitchens and baths, and ever more frequently throughout the home.

What’s the most advantageous heat source for your home and budget? Uncover your options. Contact H & H Heating & Air Conditioning today.

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