Healthy Home: Radiant Floors

Healthy Home: Radiant Floors

This healthy and eco-friendly heating system gains popularity as new technology reinvents an ancient practice.

Healthy Homes Are Important to Buyers

Radiant Heat Combats Health Problems in the Air

According to a 2007 builder survey by Professional Builder magazine, having healthy indoor air ranked second only to energy efficiency in importance to buyers. Eighty-three percent of the builders rated indoor air quality as “somewhat or very important” to their customers, according to the survey.

The Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country

According to the American Lung Association, there are an estimated 42.6 million Americans living with hay fever and/or asthma. Learning how to control a home’s environment to reduce allergen levels is important for managing allergies and asthma. Individuals who suffer from asthma, or have other respiratory illness may potentially be at a greater risk for health complications associated with poor air quality in their homes.

Radiant Heat Improves Indoor Environments

An argument can be made for improved indoor air quality in houses with radiant-floor heat. Compared with a conventional forced-air distribution system, there is likely to be less dust circulated around the house. And unlike electric baseboard or forced-air heat, there will be no surfaces hot enough to burn dust particles-which could introduce volatile chemicals or toxic particulates into house air (even passing through filters). This concern would be greatest for people with acute chemical sensitivities. In fact, veteran builder Max Strickland, of Burkholder Construction in Travers City, Michigan, first became interested in radiant-floor heating several years ago after his wife became chemically sensitive. He’s worried about “frying the air” with conventional heating systems and feels that conventional filters on forced-air systems are not effective. Strickland went on to build an American Lung Association (ALA) Health House in Travers City three years ago, and he now incorporates radiant-floor heating into all of his homes (typically 4 to 6 high-end custom houses per year).

radiant heat solves the dirty duct problemSteve Haldi, a regular contributor for Expert agrees, and maintains that many indoor air quality problems can be resolved with radiant heating technologies. “There is a lot of emphasis nowadays on indoor air quality — dust and allergens and dust mites. With radiant heating and cooling, there is normally no duct work and no air blowing allergens around. It just makes sense that if you do not have those kinds of things blowing around in your air; your indoor air quality is going to be better. When my wife and I moved into the house where we are in now, in 2002, we had been living in a rental while we built. It was a forced air system that we hated. It cost twice as much to run per month in the winter. She had to dust every other day. When we moved into the new house, she only had to dust once or twice a month. When we were living in the rental, we had to buy a humidifier. It was two five-gallon tanks and I had to fill it twice a week. When we moved into the house with radiant heat, it was kind of weird in that I only have to fill it once a month, which just means that the humidity in a house with radiant heat stays a lot more constant than the house with forced air. It’s one of those funny things where you talk about humidity and why people get so dried out in the winter when the heating system runs. It’s heating up so high that it’s taking all the moisture out of the air. In a radiant system, you don’t have that, which probably helps a lot on the allergen side of things; if your humidity in your own house is more constant and more humid, it’s just easier to breath.”

In addition to reducing the dust flying around in you home and keeping the humidity level where Mother Nature intended it to be, some radiant heating technologies do not require exhaust or fresh air venting, routine maintenance nor more than one energy source. Low Voltage Electric radiant heating products, such as Heatizon Systems Tuff Cable or ZMesh systems, offer the added benefits of being “Green” since they are nearly 100% efficient, made of nearly all recyclable materials and create no exhaust.