Heating – Comfort versus Cost?

I think the best heating system in the world is radiant heat. It’s the most even, comfortable form of heat because it works by actually heating the floors, walls, and objects in the room, rather than by just blowing warm air over them. Radiant heating systems can also be among the most efficient.
Mike Holmes from his book – Make it Right

 Hot water lines being installed

Completely silent, clean, dust free, uniform, comfortable, efficient heat delivery system – that is hydronic radiant heat. We can’t tell you how wonderfull this system is without sounding fanatical. No drafts, no cleaning ducts, no noticeable hot – cold cycles, no furnace noise, no heat pump noise, no adjusting thermostats. Warm feet are happy feet! In this picture Shaun and helper are laying down the Wirsbo water lines and tacking the lines down with a special stapler. The floors have been watered down as the concrete will be poured the next day and will cure better if the floors don’t suck out the moisture in the fresh concrete.

 Some zones require several loops

As the hot water flows through the lines, it transfers heat to the insulated concrete floors (the floors are insulated with either ridged ESP foam for slab-on-grade floors or fiberglass batts for wood joist floors or an insulating blanket system). Designing and sizing a radiant system is a specialized skill. Each room can have it’s own thermostat (unlike forced air systems, but similar to electric baseboard systems). Several rooms or areas can be run on the same thermostat if desired.

For large areas several loops, or “runs”, may be required. These loops can then be locally adjusted. For example; when the valves are installed on a zone with two loops – one a hallway, the other loop a bathroom, the hallway loop valve can be partially closed, resulting in more heat going to the bathroom, but both run from one thermostat.

Heat Recovery Ventilators

 Every room is vented

A well designed Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) system will have at least one supply vent, or an exhaust vent for each room. The idea is to extract or exhaust stale or moist air from rooms like bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms, and to supply fresh clean air to all the other rooms. The fresh outdoor air coming into the home has been filtered and tempered (warmed or cooled by the out going exhaust air). It then flows to the exhaust vents and is vented outdoors. The amount of air is controlled by the fan speed, the adjustable on / off pulse (ie. 15 minutes on, then 45 minutes off), and by adjusting the opening of each individual vent. All the vents are set in the ceilings or high on the walls, minimizing dust issues. Kitchens and bathrooms have timer controlled high speed override for when lots of air exchange is needed – shower steam, cooking (and other) smells are exhausted out doors. The interior humidity level will also automatically turn the unit on. One minor adjustment/problem can occur in bathrooms when those unfamiliar with the system turn on the “fan” as there is no noise to indicate that the system is in high extraction mode, versus the usual noisy bathroom fan most people are used to.

Heated concrete floors can be carpeted, tiled, hardwood or …

Chapter Three – Part 4 – Floors