Radiant Heat 101

Whether you love winter or hate it, you might find that radiant heating is a great way to keep warm while keeping your energy bill under control, even during the coldest months.  Usually more common in colder climates and bathrooms, radiant heat generally refers to in-floor, or in-wall, heat, either produced by a grid of electrical mesh wires, or by running water pipes below or in the surface. The heat then ‘radiates’ up or off the surface, warming the space.

Advantages of Radiator Heat

Energy Efficiency

One of the features that most recommends radiant heat is its efficiency — saving, on average, 15% of normal heating costs. With no duct loss as you have with traditional forced-air heating, and no need to ‘over heat’ as you would with a traditional radiator, radiant heat ranks among the most energy-efficient residential heating systems. By virtue of its design, radiant heat eliminates cold spots within a space, so you get the added benefit of consistent heat, everywhere the radiant heat is installed.

Simplicity and Flexibility

Radiated heat systems generally don’t require any maintenance once installed, and many come with warrantees for 30 years or more. No more HVAC servicing reminders or filter changes — just heat you can count on.

Because radiated heat is installed directly in the surface, you won’t have to factor in duct placement or radiator size when considering your home’s design or décor. There’s nothing to work around or take note of since the heating system is fully integrated into the floor, walls, or both.

Indoor Air Quality

As anyone with allergies can tell you, winter doesn’t always offer much relief. Dust, dander, and allergens circulate with abandon in indoor spaces using forced air. Radiator heat can also reduce the oxygen levels within a space, making it more uncomfortable for anyone with respiratory concerns. Radiant heat eliminates both these issues, helping improve indoor air quality and comfort.


For homes with kids and pets, this type of heating offers a safe, worry-free alternative to radiator or forced air heating. With no exposed heating elements, there’s no risk of accidental contact burns, and with no open vents, you won’t have to worry about little hands dropping problematic items into vent systems. Similarly, little feet won’t have to avoid stepping on, or getting caught on vents inadvertently.

Radiant Heat Advantages and Disadvantages

Disadvantages of Radiated Heat


Adding radiator heat to an existing structure can be an expensive endeavor. Count on adding between $10 -$20 per square foot of additional cost for radiator heating when renovating or building. However, if you’re already remodeling, there are many DIY options for radiant heat that may make it worth your time if your flooring is coming up anyway. Depending on the type of radiant system being installed, this project can increase the time it may take to complete.

Floor Height

Adding additional features to the floor can increase the height of existing flooring. Again, this depends on the type of radiant heat system you’re looking at, but expect it to add about ½ inch to your floor, and up to a full inch in some cases.

Radiant heat can be an efficient way to ensure your home feels extra cozy all winter, but it may not be right for all homes or all budgets. For more information on radiant heat and your home, or additional ideas to keep your home as comfortable as possible, contact our professionals or check out our DIY Center today.

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