If you grew up in a cold, northern climate, then chances are good that you’ve either lived in a home that features a hydronic heating system or you’ve known plenty of people who have. For everyone else, this type of system could contain a couple of different features, including radiators throughout the home and radiant heating elements under flooring. But whether one or both exist, the heating is provided by components that contain hot water, often generated by a boiler or some kind of solar collector (although more commonly a boiler since cold climates tend to have a marked shortage of sunlight during winter months). And if you’re considering the best way to heat your home, supposing you don’t enjoy central air or some other whole-home heating already, you should definitely add hydronic heating to your list of possibilities. Here are just a few benefits you’ll enjoy with this form of heating.
- Energy-efficiency. You might think that it costs more to heat water than air, and this could be true, but water is also a better conductor of heat and it doesn’t cool as quickly as air. So it turns out that hydronic heating can be a lot more efficient than central air. If you have radiators throughout the home, for example, you might pay a bit more to heat water initially, but once it’s in the pipes, both the water and the metal elements will continue to provide radiant heat far longer than a blast of warm air. A furnace will have to kick on several times, sucking up energy and jacking up your utility bills, while a hydronic system continues to give off radiant heat from its initial warming phase.
- Maximum comfort. Perhaps the best thing about hydronic systems is that they allow for control of multiple zones so that each room in the home can be adjusted to the preferred temperature of the inhabitants. While central air has to be set to a single temperature for the entire home (or on a floor-by-floor basis if you happen to have multiple systems), you can easily regulate temperatures in your home by the room when you use radiant heat, ensuring maximum comfort for the entire family.
- Warm floors. You can certainly install radiant floor heating with electronic elements if your home doesn’t feature a hydronic system. But hydronic tubing allows for a more even flow of heat, and again, it will last for hours thanks to the conductive properties of water. Plus, you can tie it into your current hydronic system if your home already features a boiler and radiators.
- Peace and quiet. Hydronic heating systems tend to be practically noiseless in comparison to HVAC systems that rely on a furnace and air vents that force heated air through the home. So if you’re looking for a system that won’t rouse you from sleep in the middle of the night every time it kicks on, consider hydronic options.
- Fewer allergens and pollutants. HVAC systems are notorious for the allergens and pollutants they produce, with dust, dander, and god-knows what else being blown around your house every time the heat or AC kicks on, not to mention questions about the Freon phase out and what will replace it for air conditioning systems. So if you want a home that is free of allergens and a system that doesn’t produce chlorofluorocarbons, hydronic is definitely the system for you.