Introduction to In Floor Heating for Edmonton Homes

Radiant In Floor HeatingThere’s almost nothing worse than stepping on a cold floor in the morning as it startles, confuses, and irritates you. There are some easy fixes such as an extra three pairs of socks or strewing blankets all about your room as a precaution. Luckily the easiest solution might be right in front of you, or below you so to speak in the form of in-floor heating. In floor heating sounds luxurious and comfortable but the product or concept is also very energy efficient. For those new to in floor heating or just looking for more information we present a brief introduction.

How the Process Works

In floor heating or underfloor heating involves installing water heated tubing or electric heating coils underneath a home’s floors. The most common type of flooring associated with radiant heat is tile but there are systems that integrate hardwood floors, laminate, and even carpet. Since heat rises, the tubes or coils running through the floor not only feel warm on your feet and toes, but the floor in essence heats the entire room in radiant fashion. To understand how efficient the system is, look at how a furnace only kicks out heat from a register that must fill the room but with radiant heating the floor is basically one giant vent. The process is also far from new as it’s been the preferred way of heating in Europe since the 70’s and evolved from the Ancient Romans use of pipes to warm their floors.

Different Types of In Floor Heating

In-floor heating, also known as radiant floor heating, is a popular and efficient method for warming up homes. This system heats the floor, which then radiates heat upwards, creating a comfortable and evenly distributed warmth. There are three main types of in-floor heating systems: electric, hydronic, and air-heated. Each type has its own advantages and considerations.

1. Electric Radiant Floor Heating

Electric radiant floor heating systems use electric cables or mats installed beneath the flooring to generate heat. These systems are generally easier and less expensive to install than hydronic systems, making them a popular choice for retrofitting in existing homes or heating small areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

  • Advantages:
    • Ease of Installation: Electric systems can be installed quickly, often without the need for significant renovations.
    • Cost-Effective for Small Areas: Ideal for spot heating or small spaces, where installation costs and energy use are lower.
    • Precision Control: Many electric systems come with programmable thermostats, allowing for precise control of heating schedules and temperatures.
  • Considerations:
    • Higher Operating Costs: Electric systems can be more expensive to operate over large areas compared to hydronic systems, especially in regions with high electricity costs.
    • Not Ideal for Whole-House Heating: Due to operating costs, electric systems are less suitable for heating entire homes.

2. Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating

Hydronic systems use heated water circulated through a network of tubing laid beneath the floor. These systems are highly efficient and are the preferred choice for heating entire homes or large areas.

  • Advantages:
    • Energy Efficiency: Hydronic systems are highly efficient and can be more cost-effective for heating large spaces, especially when connected to a high-efficiency boiler or solar water heater.
    • Consistent Heating: These systems provide even and consistent heating throughout the space.
    • Versatility: Can be used with various heat sources, including gas boilers, solar panels, and geothermal systems.
  • Considerations:
    • Higher Installation Costs: The initial installation of hydronic systems can be more expensive and complex, often requiring professional installation.
    • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is needed to ensure the system operates efficiently, including checks for leaks and ensuring the water temperature remains consistent.

3. Air-Heated Radiant Floor Heating

Air-heated radiant floor heating systems use heated air that is circulated through ducts embedded in the floor. However, this type is less common and typically less efficient compared to electric and hydronic systems.

  • Advantages:
    • Simple Integration with Existing HVAC Systems: In some cases, air-heated systems can be integrated with existing forced-air heating systems.
  • Considerations:
    • Lower Efficiency: Air does not hold heat as well as water, making these systems less efficient.
    • Limited Availability: These systems are less commonly installed due to their inefficiency and the availability of more efficient alternatives.


Cost Effective to Install

To many consumers the installation cost of underfloor heating seems insurmountable even though they’ve never actually researched it. Typically a process that adds comfort to the home while lowering bills comes at a hefty price but surprisingly in floor heating is very affordable. Depending on the size of your home and the type of underfloor heating installed a good measuring stick to start for the cost of the project is about $3 per square foot. A total cost over an entire home is typically in the $5,000 to $14,000 range but a simple installation in a bathroom might be under $700 total. One thing to remember though is that after the installation of in floor heating, consumers will see lower heating bills for the duration while almost never having to perform any floor heating maintenance tasks.

How In Floor Heating Lowers Utility Bills

Radiant heat feels the most comfortable at lower temperatures which enables you to lower your thermostat in the cold weather months. On top of that since the heat is distributed closes to where you live – the floor – your entire body will feel warmer without having to overwork your furnace. It’s true that electrical in floor heating systems will raise your electricity bills but the hydronic systems save both energy and fuel. Plus when the whole floor serves as a radiator, lower water temperatures are needed and the boiler will have a longer lifespan because it doesn’t have to work as hard.

The No Maintenance Approach

Radiant floor heating has little, if any, maintenance involved depending on the type of system. The radiant flooring is a closed system so it basically does infinite laps while keeping you warm. Of course pipes may become corroded over time in hydronic units but that’s a sign that the system has gone from closed to open and will need an inspection and repair. Also as with any pump, valves may go bad and other issues might arise but that’s more on the pump manufacturer than the actual flooring.


While a maintenance free flooring system and lower utility bills are definitely nice, the comfort provided by a radiant floor has to be its biggest advantage. When you think about being snuggled up on a couch watching a movie on a cold winter night, imagine all the heat lost as the hot air travels from a vent through the air until it finally reaches your body. On the flip side, imagine the heat coming from beneath you on the entire floor, circulating over your entire person as it rises and warms up the entire area around you.

When looking to replace your current flooring down the line, perhaps it’s time to seek advice advice from a HVAC professional.  As we’ve stated above, the advantages go well beyond just having warm tootsies in the morning and extend to lowered utility bills, an overall warmer home, and a worry-free attitude…about your in floor heating at least.


  1. […] (liquid) systems are the most popular and cost-effective radiant heaters Edmonton. Hydronic radiant floor systems pump heated water from a boiler through tubing laid underneath the floor. Normally, you can […]

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  9. Garage Heaters | 6 Ways to Heat Your Garage on July 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    […] In-floor heating is very hard to retrofit but when you’re in the market for building a new garage can be one of the best investments of your home. In-floor radiant heating tubes are built right into the foundation of a new garage and can either be powered by hot water, electricity, or fuel. What makes in-floor radiant heating keep a garage dweller so warm is the fact that the main barrier to the cold – the hard cement floor – is actually a hot asset keeping your toes cozy. On top of that the heat is rising so it’s passing through your entire body before dissipating in the ceiling. […]

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  13. […] Radiant floor heat is very convenient for a number of reasons. First off the heat is coming from the lowest possible surface, so the entire room is comfortable as the warmth rises compared to a forced air system which instantly pushes air upwards. Second, radiant floor heat is quiet as it consists of tubes or electrical wires running in a sub floor as opposed to a motor firing up or duct systems spewing air or radiators clanking as they turn on. There’s also the comfort as a radiant system is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% more efficient than other heating methods. […]