Hydronic (Hot Water) heating can be costly and a poor choice for energy-efficient homes

Radiant floor heating is a lot more expensive than forced air heating (furnaces, heat pumps); but what about other hot water heating systems (radiators and baseboards)?

Expensive hydronic systems

Many people love radiant floor heating.

But radiant floor heating is an expensive method of heating a home; prices (including the boiler and the distribution system) can reach up to $8.000-$10.000 or more, for average-sized homes.

And it doesn't provide any significant energy savings: radiant floor heating is also expensive to run...

In other words: it’s easy to spend a lot of money with a heating system, without significant energy savings or any environmental advantage - and radiant floor heating is a good illustration of it (see Box).

Mid-Priced hydronic systems

Hydronic baseboard and radiator systems are less expensive than radiant floor heating. Properly designed, they do not cost more than central forced-air systems...

Unfortunately, common baseboard and radiator systems do not solve the problem of high running costs.

What's happening in the UK, where the purchase and installation costs of a small central hydronic heating (small combi and system boilers with radiators) are relatively low, is a good illustration of it: average heating costs, in the UK, are now around £600 per year, which is a high amount.

Bottom line: the only way to drastically reduce energy comsumption and heating bills is by installing a small ductless heating system. But, in many climates, such approach requires airtight and modest-sized homes, with very high levels of insulation all over their shell, and high-performance windows.

See, on this issue:
Alternatives do central furnaces
Insulation for low-energy homes
Super-insulated new homes
New Homes Guide




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