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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Electrical, HVAC & Energy Efficiency > Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant Floor Heating Cost


How Much Does Radiant Floor Heating Cost?

 
low costElectric, DIY: $5-$7 a Square Footaverage costElectric, Installed: $8-$12+ a square foothigh costHydronic (Water), Installed: $6-$16 a square foot
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Radiant floor heating, in which flexible plastic hot-water tubing or electric cables/mats are installed beneath the flooring, is best done in new construction, as part of a major remodel when the floors will be torn up anyway or in small areas of an existing home. Unlike forced-air central heating, radiant floor heat has no ductwork or air blowers.

Typical costs:

  • Expect to pay about $6-$16 a square foot for a professionally installed hydronic (hot water) radiant floor heating system, or $9,000-$22,500 or more for a 1,500 square foot home, depending on local rates, the number of temperature zones and the overall size of the system. Installation in new construction tends to be the least expensive, while tearing up and replacing floors in an existing home costs the most. This Old House estimates it takes 2-4 days to install hydronic radiant heat under a solid wood floor[1] in an average-size room, and describes it as a difficult project best done by a professional heating contractor.
  • Because of the high cost of electricity, electric radiant floor heat is typically installed as supplemental heat in one room rather than as the main system for an entire house, and typically costs $5-$7 per square foot for just the materials or $8-$12 or more per square foot with professional installation, depending on local rates. This Old House[2] estimates the cost of electric radiant heat in an average-size bathroom at $400-$700 (including new tile) for a thin electric mat installed in thinset cement and controlled by a timer-thermostat, and says it is not a difficult do-it-yourself job for those who know how to set floor tiles. Home Depot has do-it-yourself installation instructions[3] .
Related articles: Electric Baseboard Heater, Hot Water Baseboard Heater, Central Heating

What should be included:
  • Hydronic systems typically use a boiler to heat water and a pump to circulate hot water through plastic pipes, which brings the heat to the surface of the floor. A video by Krell Distributing in New York explains hydronic systems[4] .
  • Electric systems either use cables built into the floor (generally in new construction) or electrically conductive plastic mats mounted on the subfloor under tile or other flooring material. A video by This Old House explains electric systems[5] .
  • Ceramic tile is the most effective flooring to use with radiant heat because it conducts and stores heat well, according to the Department of Energy[6] . Radiant heat can be used with vinyl, linoleum, carpeting or wood flooring, but the system might be slightly less effective because these materials can act as insulation, blocking the heat from radiating from the floor to the room.
  • Radiant floor systems are slow to heat up because the entire floor must get warm, so turning up the thermostat doesn't produce instant heat. Some homeowners put the system on a timer so the floor is warm when they get up in the morning, while others set it at a specific temperature (66 or 67 degrees Fahrenheit) and leave it there for the entire winter.
Additional costs:
  • If concrete is added to an existing floor when installing hot water radiant heat, it might be necessary to reinforce the floor supports. The additional cost will depend on the amount of additional support needed, but if this is required be sure it's included in all cost estimates.
Shopping for radiant floor heating:
  • BuildingGreen.com discusses when and where radiant-floor heating makes sense[7] in terms of energy savings.
  • The Radiant Panel Association, a nonprofit trade group promoting radiant heating, has a directory of members[8] .
  • Request and check references; ask about length and type of experience; and be sure they are properly bonded, insured and licensed[9] . Check for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[10] .
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Radiant Floor 2000 sqft
Amount: $6,000.00
Posted by: CharmCityPlumber in Baltimore, MD.Posted: October 8th, 2009 08:10AM
Number of Rooms: 11
The cost listed is just what I spent in MATERIALS! Installed in a row house in Baltimore. Installed myself as I am Master Plumber/Gas fitter. Installed the Triangle Tube 110 Prestige with the Triangle Tube Indirect Fired Water Heater. Ran about 300 ft of 3/4 Pex and 1500 ft of 1/2 Pex in a staple up system with radiant panels, insulation, and all new two pipe system at the boiler and 4 seperate zones. I had already demoed all of the ceilings to get access. Bottom line...I love the system, very even heat, eliminates all the radiators taking up space, and...WOW it saves money (heat bill is $140 with below freezing temps instead of $400)...lets not forget TRUE endless hot water with the Indirect-Fired water heater, not like those fake "tankless" water heaters when the ground water temp drops and you turn on more than one fixture. Yeah...they don't tell you about that on their website or advertisements.
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pipe damage
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: ginzell britt in southfield, MI.Posted: March 5th, 2009 09:03AM
Number of Rooms: 10
My home was built in 1942. The plan says there are wrought iron pipes in the floor. My boiler is old, when the home was built. The damaged pipes were close to the attached garage of the home and close to the boiler. The foundation is cracked and water was leaking. I do not want to change the system I love my heated floors. We viewed other pipes at the other end of the home and they are fine. no damage. Is it possible for all or most of the pipes to be damaged? how did air get to the pipes to rust in that area. The water source was cut off to the garage when I purchased the home. please respond and let me know what I should do about the system.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20365330,00.html
  2.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,192138,00.html
  3.  www.homedepot.com/webapp/catalog/servlet/ContentView?pn=KH_PG_FL_Install_Radiant_Heat
  4.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHkwu2TIyrs
  5.  www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20353261,00.html
  6.  energy.gov/energysaver/articles/radiant-heating
  7.  www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm/2002/1/1/Radiant-Floor-Heating-When-It-Does-and-...
  8.  www.radiantprofessionalsalliance.org/Members/default.aspx
  9.  www.contractors-license.org/
  10.  www.bbb.org/us/Find-Business-Reviews/
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