Instead of heating air, radiant floor heating warms people by emitting heat energy as thermal infra-red radiation, (just like the sun), at wavelengths of about 5 microns (m).
Radiant heating systems are very efficient because ideal personal heat comfort can be achieved with ambient air temperatures of only 18 deg C to 19 deg C resulting in significant energy savings.
For every 1 deg C your thermostat is turned down, you could save as much as 10% on your energy consumption. Turning your thermostat setting down from 24 deg C to 20 deg C produces a significant saving without sacrificing personal heat comfort.
This process works because the radiant heat reduces the heat loss from your body, allowing you to feel warmer despite the ambient air temperature being lower.
Radiant heating systems are unlike ducted warm air, oil or gas fired traditional central heating systems and the personal heat comfort that radiant heating produces will be noticeable very quickly. You do need to resist the temptation to set the thermostat to maintain ambient air temperature to the levels that you are used to for traditional heating systems. Doing so will simply ‘overheat’ the room or house and you will not benefit from the huge potentail energy savings.
Various studies of the energy consumption of radiant floor heating have shown them to be as much as 50% less to 10% more than conventional heating systems. The variation in energy savings realised in practice is generally attributable to the ambient air temperature setting of the thermostat.
Energy consumption and potential savings of direct acting electric radiant heating systems compared to ducted warm air, oil or gas fired traditional central heating systems depends on various factors. The thermal characteristics of a particular house, the age and efficiency of the boiler and radiators, the usage pattern, the control systems implemented and the fuels cost.
Direct acting electric radiant heating systems are 100% efficient and are generally controlled on a room-by-room basis to provide the most economical running costs available.
Radiators vs. Radiant Floor Heating
Radiators require high water temperature and most of the heat delivered by traditional radiators occurs via convection because their surface area is relatively small. Air passes over and through the radiators creating convective warm air currents. Radiators tend to create uneven pools of warmth with warm air currents affecting the ideal heat loss from the body.
As the feet naturally act as our body’s ‘thermostat,’ having warm feet generally means we feel comfortable but traditional central heating systems with radiators don’t provide this without ‘overheating’ your head.
Radiant floor heating systems work in reverse to provide warm feet without ‘overheating’ your head. In fact radiant heating creates little stratification because there is no significant air movement.
Only hot air rises. Heat does not rise, it flows from a warmer object or surface to a cooler one. This is the simple principle behind radiant heating and why personal heat comfort is so much better with radiant heating.