Radiant floor heating is a comfortable and efficient way to heat up a room. Instead of heating the air in a space, which can lead to warm and cold spots, radiant floor heating warms up the people and objects directly. You feel more comfortable while using less energy overall to heat the space.
How much the installation will cost, however, and how much you’ll ultimately save on your energy bills will depend on several factors including the type of system and installation style you undertake.
Radiant floor heating can come in different installation styles and energy sources. The most common of which include hydronic floor heating and electric floor heating. Both can be used in new and retrofit installations and both can be used beneath a variety of flooring materials.
Is Radiant Floor Heating Cost Effective?
Radiant floor heating is generally considered more efficient than other forms of heating, which means that you may be able to set the thermostat lower or to use less energy heating your home. This in turn means that it may be possible to save money on your monthly energy bills by using this type of system.
Hydronic and electronic heated floor systems have very different costs, however, which can mean that the cost of your project can differ depending on what style of installation you choose.
Electronic Radiant Floor Heating Costs
Electric floor heating systems are generally more expensive both to install and to run than hydronic systems, so they’re generally used for supplemental heating. This means that they’re most commonly installed in small areas like bathrooms and mudrooms where you may want to have some additional heat.
Electric in floor radiant heat systems come in a few different styles. Mats are the simplest and easiest to install, allowing for a wet or dry installation; the wires or cables are inside the mat so it only needs to be rolled into place.
Other systems involve using the cables without any matting holding them in place. The cables can be looped through grids or simply tacked in place. The fewer components to the system, the less it will cost overall in terms of materials, but the higher your installation costs could potentially be.
Electric floor heating systems can range in cost from $5 – $15 a square foot for the materials. Installed, they tend to cost around $20 a square foot.
Electricity is more costly to run than hydronic systems, which is why this type of system is usually supplemental. Even then, it is possible to help lower your overall heating costs in the home by roughly 10% or more. This is because using the radiant heat often means that you can lower your other heating sources.
Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating Costs
Hydronic floor heating systems use hot water pumped through small tubes or coils beneath your floor. The water can be heated using a few different methods including a boiler and solar panels. The tubes can be laid in concrete for a wet installation or they can be laid in grids in a dry installation.
Hydronic radiant heat systems can also have a range of costs depending on the system, how you’ll heat the water, and whether it’s a wet or dry installation. Hydronic systems typically cost $10 to $14 a square foot installed.
This type of system is very energy efficient, and depending on how you heat the water you can save up to 30% on your energy bills over a forced hot air heating system. Heating your water using gas can save more over heating with electricity, while using solar heating will save you the most.
DIY Floor Heating Systems vs Hiring a Professional Installer
Not every radiant heat flooring system can be installed DIY, but grid and mat systems do make it easy for some DIY homeowners to take on installing a small radiant floor heating project on their own, or with minimal help.
Mats make installation the easiest. Typically, you will measure the room or make a blueprint of it using craft paper. The mats are measured and cut to fit, and you can easily lay them yourself in thinset, and put your own flooring over them.
Doing so can cut your costs down tremendously, with many people paying just $5 – $8 a square foot for the materials and saving the difference on installation Wires and tubes that require you to fit them on site, however, are more complicated, and may require you seek help from a professional.
Likewise, the final connections of electric systems to the thermostat and hydronic systems to the boiler should always be done by a certified professional.
This is especially true if you pull a permit for the job; the final work will be inspected, and having a professional handle these details can mean the difference between doing the job once and having to do it again.
Understand the Real Costs of Radiant Heating
Radiant heating is a comfortable, energy friendly way to heat your home. It can cost more in upfront costs than forced hot air and other systems, but will generally save you money over time. Make sure you understand both the costs and the savings of the system you choose to make the best decision about heating your home.