Home heating is a major expense, especially in cold climates.

In the latest cold snap happening around the country, temperatures have dropped 10-35 degrees below average for early January. It makes you want to shiver just reading about it. Weeks like this make it easy to understand why home heating is a major expense, especially in cold climates.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, space heating is the largest  home energy expense, accounting for 45 percent of monthly energy bills. The way you heat your home will have a major impact on how much you pay to stay warm. Choosing your home’s heating system will depend on your budget, the availability of fuel types in your area, and your personal preferences. You’ll need to decide on the fuel that creates your heat (common choices are oil, natural gas, electricity, propane and even wood), and from there you’ll need to determine how you want the heat delivered throughout your home.

Two common choices are forced air and radiant heat — but do you know the key pros and cons of each one? Here is our cheat sheet on both.

Forced air heating systems are prone to heat loss.

Forced Air

A forced air heating system simply refers to units that use air to carry warmth throughout a space. Homes with central heating and air ducts often use this system. The furnace is typically located in the center of the home or in the basement. Common models burn natural gas to produce a flame that heats the air, which is then distributed throughout the house. You can purchase electric furnaces as well.

Pros: Central forced air heating systems move air about the house to promote circulation.

Cons: Heat loss is the major downside to forced air heat, as these systems are subject to parasitic heat loss. What is that? “Because the air from the furnace and air handler has to travel through a series of tubes to get to its intended room, there are many opportunities for it to leak wherever there are small openings in the ducts,” describes Michael Franco in “Which Is Better, Forced Air or Radiant Heat?,” an article on  bobvila.com. “Also, the ducts for this type of system often travel through cold attics or basements, increasing the chance that heat will be lost as the warm air travels to the rooms in your home.”

Heat rises, leaving the basement and floors cold in the house. If your home does not have air ducts, you need to have them installed to use forced air systems. Transferring heat through the air isn't as energy efficient as other options.

Radiant heat eliminates heat loss and is allergy friendly.

Radiant Heating

Radiant heat warms a surface directly by relying on touch to transfer energy. The heat is produced by electricity, water or air that makes direct contact with the surface on which you choose to install your system. That heat is then transferred to people and objects in the room via infrared radiation. In most cases, these systems are installed beneath flooring.

Pros: Radiant heat eliminates the inefficient heat loss created by rising heat, as warmth is not distributed through the air. These systems are allergy-friendly, while forced air pushes allergens throughout the house.

“In the radiant floor versus forced-air heating debate, radiant floor always wins because it provides a quiet, even heat and eliminates the allergy problems often associated with heating ducts,” Franco said in the Bob Vila article. “But there’s another reason why radiant floor heating is superior to its blowy cousin — it’s simply more efficient.”

Cons: Radiant heating is installed beneath the floor, making it harder to access for repairs or maintenance.

Although forced air is a common method for heating a home, continuing developments in radiant heat systems continue to make this a more popular option. It’s hard to argue with an allergy-reducing, efficient, breezeless, quiet option for heating your home — at least we’d like to think so here at  WarmlyYours Radiant Heating.

Tell us what you think about your radiant heating system and why you chose it over forced air! Use the hashtag #radiantheatbeatsforcedair. You can also  share your story and tell us about your installation or project, send us photos on the WarmlyYours  Facebook page, or tweet us at @WarmlyYours.




I want to install heat in my 2 car garage. looking at electric vs gas and have decided to go with gas, however, now am wondering whether a radiant gas heater mounted on the ceiling would be more efficient and "warmer" than putting up a "Hot Dawg" unit with a fan. And will the radiant heat reach the far walls of my garage or will it just warm up the area close to the heater?? garage is 25' X 25' ( 625 sq. ft ) Thanks

Mike Mlnarik February 4, 2017
WarmlyYours Responds...

Thanks for the question. The most efficient heating system for the project you’ve described would be electric radiant floor heating. By embedding the heat-source in your floor, you’ll take advantage of heat’s natural tendency to rise—while minimizing heat loss due to dissipation. Our radiant panels are also a great heating-element option if you’re not planning on replacing your floor.

Cameron Witbeck for WarmlyYours February 6, 2017

How much would it cost to have radiant heating in a 2600 sq ft house? How much would forced air be?

GUEST cpplinford@yahoo.com February 23, 2017
WarmlyYours Responds...

Thanks for the question. We’d need more information about your project, like the flooring types to be used and the number of rooms in the home, to give you an accurate estimate—but you can always use our free Instant Quote Tool (on our homepage and under the “Services” tab) to generate a quick room-by-room estimate.

Cameron Witbeck for WarmlyYours February 23, 2017

1300 sq.ft. home Electric Radiant Ceiling Heat vs. Gas forced Air furnace. How much of a price difference would you expect to see on your Heat bill? How much savings is in the Radiant Ceiling heat? 10%, 25% ?? So we are looking to get a home, built in 1967 has ceiling radiant heat. How does this house breathe as compared to a home with forced air? mdl1doc@gmail.com Thanks.

GUEST mdl1doc@gmail.com March 4, 2017
WarmlyYours Responds...

Radiant ceiling heat, like radiant floor heating, is an exceptionally efficient form of heating because it heats the objects in a room (instead of just the air). According to Tom Tesmar, from Tesmar Application Technology, with radiant ceiling heat, the heat will radiate from your heating system into all the solid surfaces in a room, not unlike heat from the sun. Generally speaking, this efficiency tends to mean lower heating bills. However, there are three main variables you’ll need to know to estimate the actual effect such a system would have on your heating costs: 1.) The operating cost for running the system. 2.) Its heat output. 3.) How much heat-loss your home has.

Cameron Witbeck for WarmlyYours March 6, 2017

I am going to ask what every woman wants to know, So this is like a microwave? Is the radiation harmful to humans or pets? Are there any studies on the effects of the human body, I am afraid if it warms "objects" then it will be warming our bodies, with radiation....

guest August 25, 2017
WarmlyYours Responds...

Thank you for the question! This is a question we get quite a bit. The type of radiant heat provided from electric floor heating is not dangerous at all, in fact, it's actually healthier than forced air systems because it doesn't unnecessarily circulate allergens and dust particulates. The term "radiant" is just used as a way to separate this heating from "convection" heating (a.k.a forced air). In radiant heating, the heat source "radiates" the heat directly to other solid objects instead of traveling via air, which is very efficient. Certain electro-magnetic fields (EMF), generated by high-voltage systems like industrial power lines, can be harmful, but our floor heating systems are ultra-low EMF, which means they generate less EMF than a regular vacuum cleaner.

Cameron Witbeck for WarmlyYours August 25, 2017

I'm buying a home that has awindow unit for air. looking into getting central air for heating as well, what should i do? the property has 3 rooms and 2 baths and about 1,700 sq ft.

Gustavo medellin October 14, 2017
WarmlyYours Responds...

Gustavo, thanks for reading and congrats on the new home! If you're curious about whether or not radiant floor heating might be a good fit for your project, please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-875-5285.

Cameron Witbeck for WarmlyYours October 16, 2017

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