We all love to save, and if there are ways to save on our energy bill, we’ve probably tried it. In the winter, we keep blinds open to let the sun in, taking advantage of our Colorado sunshine for passive heating. In the summer, we open windows in the evening and night to cool down the house.
Of course the most common heating and cooling systems are a forced air furnace and traditional air conditioning units or evaporative coolers. You probably aren’t surprised to hear that both of these systems are not as comfortable or as efficient as you would like them to be.
In a forced air heating system, the and cold air quickly dissipate. Radiant heating and radiant cooling systems are much more efficient because the temperature is evenly distributed and it warms and cools surfaces throughout the room.
Radiant Heating Systems
The best systems on the market today are radiant heating/cooling systems, which are extremely efficient because the temperature is constant. Even better are highly efficient in-slab radiant systems, which can heat a home with relatively little demand on a high efficiency boiler.
Other radiant systems include cast iron baseboard radiators or decorative Runtal radiators that look sleek and modern. Warm Board or Messana are other systems that have allowed for in floor or in ceiling radiant without the concrete slabs. All of these create a comfortable indoor climate, and thanks to their popularity they’re becoming more affordable and can even be incorporated into a remodeling project.
To up the green quotient, adding a small Solar Thermal (hot water panels) is a great match for any radiant heating system and can heat most homes with only the occasional need for fossil fuel back up from the gas boiler.
Sure, radiant systems are more expensive to install up front than traditional forced air, but after the initial investment you will then reap the benefits for years to come in comfort and energy savings.
There are two popular ways to install these systems into your home.
1) Thermal tubing in the floor in a concrete slab or in a system like Warm Board.
2) Foam and Aluminum panels placed in walls and/or ceilings
Both the tubing and panels are more energy efficient because they distribute the heat evenly via circulated water that is at a fairly low temperature. Radiators require higher temperature water, but are still more efficient and comfortable than most forced air systems.
Radiant Cooling Systems
Radiant cooling systems use cool water through the same radiant heat tubing or panels to radiate cooling throughout the room. These can potentially eliminate the need for forced air cooling. With these systems, the energy needed to transport the cool air around your home is about 25% less than the typical AC system, which means you’re not only benefitting the environment but also your bank account.
Keep in mind that radiant cooling systems are best suited for arid climates (hello Colorado!) as opposed to humid ones. In more humid climates radiant cooling also requires de-humidification.
There are so many options on the market these days, but, if you’re building a new home or considering a significant remodel it’s worth the time and extra upfront cost to install radiant options. Not only are you going to have a more comfortable, consistent home, you will also rest easy knowing that your systems are saving you dollars and saving our precious natural resources.