Frequently Asked Questions: Radiant Heating

Considering radiant for your next space? Here is a collection of answers to some of the most common questions. 

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What type of floors can I use with radiant? Wood, vinyl, engineered hardwood? Which is best?
Although all types of flooring have been used successfully with radiant, there is a difference in performance. For example plush carpeting will significantly reduce heat transfer versus ceramic tile.

Review our Radiant Heating Design Guide to learn more about which floor coverings have the highest heat transmission values (low R-values) and achieve the best possible heat transfer from the pipes to the room. Checking with a local contractor or system designer can help you run the numbers for your specific project.  

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Can I use a rug over my radiant heated floors?
The simple answer is “Yes” a rug is compatible with radiant floor heating. However, with warm floors, you may not need the rug anymore if it was there to keep your feet from feeling cold. A very thick rug can act as an insulator to the warmed floors, which can slow the response time of a radiant system. 

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Can I retrofit radiant into my home?
The easiest installation option for radiant retrofit is to heat the floors from below, in the joist space. Using RAUPLATETM, this method doesn’t change your existing floor coverings at all. If you are changing your flooring, you could use an above floor panel system like RAUPANELTM.

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Is radiant expensive? 
Initial installation costs are sometimes higher, but the operating costs of a radiant system are generally lower over the life of a building. Paired with the benefits of zone-ability, comfort and reduced operating noise, REHAU radiant prevails for occupant comfort.

Checking with a local contractor or system designer can help you run the numbers for your specific project.  

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Should I set my thermostat back at night or on vacation with radiant floors? 
Radiant is known for maintaining a comfortable, consistent temperature, so most homeowners don’t change the setpoint overnight. Radiant systems, work best in “set it and forget it mode.”

However, setting your thermostat back while you are on vacation is a good idea. In a best case, use a programmable thermostat with a program or Wi-Fi function that will allow you to bring the house back up to temperature before you return. 

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Can I have different thermostat setpoints in different rooms/floors? 
Radiant is great for setting different zones in different rooms.  As long as you have a thermostat in each zone and walls and doors between thermostats, you can mix and match as many temperatures as you want.  Some people will keep a bathroom a little warmer and a bedroom a little cooler.

Read how a Toronto-based homeowner uses radiant zoning. 

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Does a radiant system require more or less maintenance than a forced-air system?
All mechanical systems require maintenance, but radiant systems are a closed loop, so the system fluid does not pick up dust or debris from the room. In contrast, a forced air system may end up with an air filter full of dust or pet fur, which can reduce efficiency. 

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Do long-term benefits offset the up-front cost of radiant?
Typically radiant floor heating systems are more expensive to install than traditional forced-air systems. However, radiant heating creates a more comfortable space, at a lower thermostat setpoint. With a radiant heating system people are typically comfortable with a 68°F thermostat setpoint as compared to a forced-air heating system set to 72°F. This is part of the reason you can see energy savings long-term with radiant.

Read how a Maryland homeowner slashed energy bills with REHAU sustainable technologies.

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