In Floor Radiant Heat – the sexiest thing in heating!
March 5, 2013
What? Did I just see someone tell me that heated floors are sexy? You’ve got to be kidding! Well, I must admit that there is very little that is “sexy” in the heating business. We, at Hogg Mechanical, are well aware of how much heating equipment and services are perceived as “grudge purchases”. Most of the time, heat is something we just take for granted, ie we only notice when we don’t have it! Even us heating geeks have to admit that no one greets their guests with “before we sit down, you’ve just got to see the new furnace, we just bought.” So why am I writing this?
The only time we see people notice (in a positive light) heating is with heated floors. No one remembers, “when I was at Jim’s place, I couldn’t believe how even the forced air heat was”. Now, think about a time when you spent a few hours in stocking feet on a heated floor. Couldn’t believe how comfortable it was, could you? We hear this frequently, but do you know why?
The first reason is physiological. Our bodies sense cold with our extremities. Ever notice that despite a room being up to temperature, you feel cold, or more specifically, your hands and feet are cold? So you can easily see, warm feet, warm body. What might not be obvious is why the floors might be cold.
Why are they cold? Everyone knows that “warm air rises”. Think about this in the context of a forced air heating system. Your furnace makes warm air that is pushed into rooms through a duct system. What happens to this air? You guessed it – it goes right to the ceiling. What you haven’t probably thought about is, what does that mean about the temperature of the air close to the floor? Right again, the coldest air in the room is next to your floor. Does it make sense why your feet are cold now? The air in a residential room can vary 8 – 10⁰ F from top to bottom. If the thermostat is at 4’, and you have 8’ ceilings, the air next to the floor is around 5⁰F colder than the temperature you set it at!
The last reason is a little more technical. It’s humidity. Frequently when we’re uncomfortable it’s because of humidity (too much or not enough). Think about a fall day that’s in the mid-teens (Celsius) or high 50’s (Fahrenheit) and rainy. Are you uncomfortable because it’s really cold? Not really. You’re cold because it’s damp. Ever heard someone say “this cold is going right through me”? That’s high humidity. In the dead of winter, we experience low humidity (dry skin and hands). If you’ve got a forced air system, you probably need a humidifier. Heated floors however don’t. The heat that it produces is not only warm but moist as well.
Hopefully this sheds some light on why your comfort level with heated floors feels so much higher! The heat is located where the body is most sensitive to it, and it has the right moisture content to make you feel comfortable!