Generally, the newer the house, the more energy efficient you can expect it to be. Today’s newly constructed homes are tighter than ever — with fewer gaps and unnecessary openings — in order to reduce heating and cooling costs and, therefore, reduce the household’s impact on the environment. However, just because a house is “green” doesn’t mean it’s “healthy.”
If a “green” house doesn’t have a proper ventilation system, it can lead to indoor air pollution. This happens when the house is built so tightly — and without a proper ventilation system — that enough fresh air isn’t getting inside, and enough “polluted” indoor air isn’t being let outside. To solve this issue, many new homes are being outfitted with a heat recovery ventilator (for colder climates) or energy recovery ventilator (for warmer climates), according to a Remodeling article. These ventilation systems bring outdoor air into the house, filter it, and lower or raise its temperature per the home’s thermostat settings. This reduces the load on heating and cooling systems while improving the home’s indoor air quality.
What Role Does Floor Heating Play?
So where does radiant heating fit into this “healthy” ventilation trend for new homes?
In-floor heating has been a popular upgrade for both new and existing homes for years. When it comes to new-construction homes, builders typically offer floor heating as an option in the master bathroom because it’s a luxury feature that so many homeowners request. It can easily be integrated with a forced-air system to provide supplemental heat where it’s needed. However, the construction stage is also the best time to install a radiant heating system throughout the entire home as its primary heating source. Before the drywall is put in and the floors are installed, the construction crew has the best opportunity to install electric or hydronic floor heating systems throughout the house. At this time, the systems can be most easily integrated with an adequate electric panel or boiler. Plus, the home buyer will likely save some money by installing an in-floor heating system during the construction stage because if they do it after the home is finished, they’ll at least have to pay to remove and replace the flooring. And when you’ve just installed new flooring, why would you want to rip it up?
Whether homeowners are using radiant floor heating as a primary or supplementary heating source, an energy recovery ventilation system can be employed to ensure that the indoor air quality is at its highest. If the home is equipped with a forced-air system, the ventilation system can be added onto that existing forced-air system. If a forced-air system is not already in place, the ventilation system can still be installed as a standalone system. This standalone option is actually preferred because it offers the best air quality by constantly circulating fresh air into the house.
To learn more about “healthy homes” and how to improve your indoor air quality, check out Remodeling’s article “Breathing Easy: An Introduction to Healthy Homes.”