Air Heating VS Radiant Heating

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Forced-air system

Comfort, energy efficiency and safety are major issues when choosing a heating method for a home. Likewise, the cost and expected service life of the equipment also play a part.

When it comes to boiler vs furnace, the lower cost of installing and maintaining a furnace is its primary advantage. Furnaces are also relatively simple to use and require only a few basic operating components. They are also energy efficient, especially when used in conjunction with a programmable thermostat. Lastly, forced air systems can be used as an all-in-one HVAC system to heat and cool your home whereas boilers utilizing radiant heat can only be used for heating.Forced-air has become the standard for heating multi-room residences and the widespread adoption of this heat source is in itself one of its advantages. On the other hand, we’re accustomed to noisy fans kicking on and off, being too hot upstairs and too cold downstairs, wrapping ourselves in extra layers only to strip them off a short time later, and constantly adjusting the thermostat to try and keep comfortable.


  • Only HVAC system that heats and cools
  • Air filter improves air quality when replaced regularly
  • The whole-house humidifier in the ductwork to maintain proper interior humidity.


  • Prone to air leakage, reducing efficiency
  • Uneven air distribution can occur
  • Blowing air stirs up allergens within home
  • Noisy operation

Hydronic systems

Hot water radiant systems, also called hydronic heating, use heated water circulating through PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) tubing. The tubing is embedded and installed with PEX piping tools in mortar or in extra thick plywood sub-floor panels that have pre-cut channels for holding the tubing in place. The plywood method can’t be used under nail-down flooring like hardwood.Radiant heating systems supply heat directly to the floor or to panels in the wall or ceiling of a house. The systems depend largely on radiant heat transfer — the delivery of heat directly from the hot surface to the people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. Radiant heating is the effect you feel when you can feel the warmth of a hot stovetop element from across the room. When radiant heating is located in the floor, it is often called radiant floor heating or simply floor heating.


  • Adds supplemental heat to cooler rooms
  • Does not distribute allergens into room
  • Ideal for remodeling projects
  • Quiet operation
  • Energy effective

Radiant heat is more effective because:

  • Energy Use and Parasitic Loss
    With inherent flaws and imperfections in duct work, heat escapes the system and is lost to unknown parts of your house while increased air pressure in rooms can add strain to weather stripping, causing leaks. Also, air blowers often require 9x the amount of electricity as the pumps in radiant systems.
  • Lower Ceiling Temperatures
    Heat doesn’t rise – but hot air does. It’s the primary reason why so much insulation is used beneath the roof. In a forced air system, hot air his pumped into a room and rapidly rises to the ceiling which can cause a temperature swing of 10 degrees between the ceiling and the floor. This air stratification becomes worse in rooms with high ceilings. In a two-story home, the upstairs can be stifling hot while downstairs is too cool.
  • Zoning reduces energy usage
    Most forced air homes have a single thermostat to control the temperature of the entire home. These “single zone systems” are the norm because forced air is inherently difficult and expensive to control. The result is inconsistent comfort – some rooms too cool, others too hot, and rooms in direct sunlight overheat depending on the time of day.
  • Lower air temperatures for the same comfort
    Even on a cool, windy day, we can feel warm as the sun shines upon us. This is because the radiant heat from the sun allows us to be comfortable even with low air temperatures. The same is true in your home. With the warmth emanating from a radiant floor, you experience greater comfort with the thermostat set lower than those in a forced air home.


  • Can be expensive for whole-house heating
  • Only provides heat – not air conditioning

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