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Radiant Heating and Cooling Made Simple

March/April 2006
A version of this article appears in the March/April 2006 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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March 02, 2006
        Conventional hydronic radiant floor (HRF) heating systems offer significant comfort and efficiency benefits compared to conventional forced air systems. Comfort is improved by delivering heat low, where the people are, and by eliminating forced air noise. Efficiency is improved by reducing indoor temperatures for equal comfort, reducing heat losses associated with thermal stratification and ductwork, and substitution of an energy-efficient pump for the more energy-intensive blower. However, radiant floors currently carry high installation and component costs. In areas where cooling is required, homes with HRF heating usually also need a forced-air cooling system at an additional cost. Combine these issues with home builder concerns about puncturing the radiant tubing during construction, and it’s easy to understand why HRF systems are relegated to the high-end, custom-home market.

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