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Old 08-12-16, 06:07 PM   #2
DEnd
Apprentice EcoRenovator
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: NC
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What do you mean by cold floors? If cold floors to you are in the mid 70's then you may need some form of radiant heat in them. If however you can tolerate a cool floor then you likely won't find a benefit to heating the floors.

I take it this will be slab on grade. The most important thing you can do is insulate the slab and foundation. This alone will warm the floors up considerably.

How close are you to construction? You might try hunting up a local passive house and try their floors out.

We put in radiant floors in our crawlspace built house. Yes the warm floors were nice, but we no longer run the system, for a few reasons. #1 it was expensive, without a natural gas line we had to buy propane, the rental charge on the tank was a bit crazy, as was the cost of the propane (this was back before fracking took off and the cost of propane was rising with shortages happening in some regions). #2 it was a bit unreliable. all of our pumps failed (this was due to a commissioning and design issue), the water heater died (high efficiency condensing water heater), and we battled leaks. #3 it had comfort issues, the stairwell became much warmer than the rest of the house. In the end it was the cost and leaks that actually stopped us using it though. After the replacement water heater died, we disconnected the system entirely and put in an electric water heater. Later when we redid the master bath we put in electric in-floor radiant heat there.

Ironically there have been a couple of times where I was glad we didn't have in floor heat. These are when I have been really sick. When I was really nauseous a nice cold floor to lie on (in the bathroom with my head in the shower) was really nice.

Done well radiant in-floor heat is very nice. To do it well you absolutely need to have a professional familiar with your construction techniques, and climate design the system. In a well designed and built house the only major comfort factor they improve is warmer feet. In a highly energy efficient house however the floors may never actually get to toasty feet levels of warmth.
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