Go Green and Save Energy with a Heated Floor

You can make your old drafty home go green and save on heating costs by installing a radiant heated floor. This is basically a floor with heated water tubing running underneath keeping the entire floor at a comfortable temperature level. The advantage is that the heat is evenly-distributed and boiler temperatures can actually be set at lower levels. This saves not only energy but reduces the stress on your boiler. Any time you save energy you make your home go green helping the environment but not at the expense of comfort. Let’s look at a typical installation of a radiant heated floor:

Make sure you start with a hard flat surface. The best way to start the installation of your floor is to expose the concrete foundation. You will need to remove carpet on the old flooring. If the old flooring is tile or some other hard surface, it will probably be okay to install the heated floor system over it without removing. This way you minimize the amount of old flooring that needs to be torn out thus reducing waste. It is in the spirit of green to re-use whatever you can.

Lay out the rubber tubing on the flat surface. The rubber tubing is the conduit to carry the heated water. You want to lay it out like a sine wave for the greatest coverage on the floor. It is the maximizing coverage that will reduce your heating costs and help your home go green.

Build the wooden frame for your heated floor using two-inch by four-inch lumber. The wooden frame is built so that a plywood raised floor can be installed over the rubber tubing. Using 2x4s should allow one to one and a half inches between the top of the rubber tubing and the suspended floor. You want to allow this space so that when people walk on the floor it does not but pressure on the tubing.

Install and test the boiler unit. You will have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on this part of the installation as there are different models of heated floor boilers. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to make sure the boiler is energy-efficient and contributes to your home going green.

Fill space underneath the suspended floor with sand. Before mounting the suspended plywood sheet, fill all space between the tubing and the frame with sand. Sand is an inexpensive heat conductor and the effect is that the heat from the tubing will get absorbed by the sand and spread out evenly across the floor. If you don’t want to use sand, you can also use aluminum sheeting as it will spread the heat evenly too.

Lay your flooring on the suspended plywood. You can now install tile or hardwood over your heated floor. You can also install carpet if you like however you need to install carpet that is not too resistant to heat. This has to do with what is known as the R-value of the carpet. When a carpet has a high R-value it means it has a high degree of insulation. If you lay carpet with a high R-value on the heated floor then it is shielding the inside of the house from the external heat source. You will have to run the boiler at hotter temperatures which defeats the goal of going green for your home. If you lay carpet, it should have an R-value of between 2.0 and 4.0. Of course, at the lower end of the spectrum would be the best.