There are many ways to heat a home, but most of these methods are inefficient, cost a lot of money to run, and provide inconsistent temperatures. Radiant heating solves these issues. It does not heat the air in your home. Instead, it heats you and your furnishings directly so that you feel warmer and more comfortable. Because the air is not being heated, you often need less energy to feel warm. There are a few different ways to create radiant heating, including hydronic, electric, and air. Each has its own cost, installation method, and fuel source.
The national average range to install radiant floor heating in the home is between $20,000 and $40,000, with most homeowners paying around $28,000 for hydronic heating in a 2,000 sq.ft. home with two zones and a new boiler. At the low end, it is possible to install electric radiant heat mats in a bathroom for around $800. But you can also spend as much as $65,000 to install hydronic heating in a 2,000 sq.ft. house with three zones, extra insulation, and a geothermal heating system.
|Radiant Floor Heating Costs|
|National average cost||$28,000|
While there are a few different floor heating systems, they all essentially work in the same way. Rather than heating the air directly next to a radiator or blowing hot air into a room, radiant heat uses convection to heat the people and objects in the room directly. Some of this heat also rises from the floor up into the air of the room. But because the system is installed across the entire floor, the air rises evenly. This means you do not have hot or cold spots in the room, leading to consistent heat.
While a furnace or boiler might have to produce heat at 120 degrees for you to feel comfortable in a room, radiant heating can operate at around 85 degrees. Because it warms you directly, you feel more comfortable using a lower temperature.
The systems work by running either tubing or wires beneath the floor. Hot water or hot air is forced through the tubes, while the wires are warmed by electricity. The heat from these tubes or wires passes through the floor, heating the room directly.
Radiant floor heating has different costs per square foot, depending on the system type. Because there are different ways to lay the tubing and wires, such as grid systems and mats, there is a wide range of costs for the various systems. The total range of costs for radiating floor heating installed is between $10 and $25 a square foot. Of these, electric is the most expensive at $16 - $25 a square foot, and hydronic is the least expensive at $10 to $16 a square foot. Radiant air systems fall in the middle at $14 - $20 a square foot.
Below is the total average cost range for various floor sizes. These costs do not include the boiler or other methods necessary to heat the air or water that will circulate through the systems. Electric mats require no additional equipment.
|Square Feet||Average Cost Range (Installed)|
|50 sq.ft.||$500 - $1,250|
|100 sq.ft||$1,000 - $2,500|
|200 sq.ft.||$2,000 - $5,000|
|500 sq.ft||$5,000 - $12,500|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$10,000 - $25,000|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$20,000 - $50,000|
While hydronic floors are the most popular and cost-effective, they are not the only type of radiant heating available. There are three types of radiant floor heating - hydronic, radiant air, and electric:
|Type||Average Costs per Sq.Ft. (Installed)|
|Hydronic Heating||$10 - $16|
|Radiant Air Heating||$14 - $20|
|Electric Heating||$16 - $25|
Hydronic heating uses a boiler to heat the water and costs $10 to $16 a square foot installed. Once the boiler heats the water, it is then circulated under the flooring through flexible tubes. The hot water is circulated constantly so that the floors remain an even temperature. It is the least expensive hydronic system to install and run. It can be done in wet, concrete-based or in dry sandwiched-between-plywood installations. Hydronic radiant floor heating provides more consistent heat than radiators and other hydronic systems, so the boiler can be set to a lower temperature.
Solar-powered underfloor heating costs are similar to hydronic heating, starting at $14 to $20 a square foot. But you have additional costs involved for the solar panels, which can double the total installation cost. Radiant air heating uses solar energy. Solar power heats air, which is pumped through the floors during the daytime hours. This is very cost-effective because it does not require a fuel source. But because it only operates during the day, you need another heating method for nights or to install very thick concrete floors that hold the heat for longer after the sun goes down.
Electric heating runs between $16 and $25 per square foot and is done either with mats containing embedded cables or with loose cables that are strung through a grid to hold them in place. These mats and wire installation systems are very expensive and more costly to run because they are powered by electricity. Therefore, while you can use them in a whole-house install, they are most commonly used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other small areas. Mats tend to be more expensive than the wires, although they are slightly easier to install.
Technically, you can use nearly any floor covering over radiant heat. The key, however, is understanding that some flooring materials cause heat or energy loss. To compensate, more tubing can be installed at a higher cost, or the temperature of the boiler can be raised. So while you can install thin carpeting over radiant heat, it will cost more for the system and likely its everyday use.
The most recommended flooring allows for the unimpeded transfer of heat to the user and the room. Porcelain and ceramic tile are both frequently suggested for this reason. But vinyl, laminates, and hardwoods can also be used, provided steps are taken to prevent the drying out of the floor. This includes acclimating the boards to the relative humidity of the room, using engineered rather than solid wood floors, and ensuring that the pipes are completely enclosed in concrete that is at least 2-inches thick:
|Type of Floor||Average Costs per Sq.Ft. (Installed)|
|Vinyl||$2 - $15|
|Carpet||$2 - $21|
|Concrete||$4 - $6|
|Laminate||$8 - $15|
|Tile||$9 - $30|
|Hardwood||$10 - $25|
|Marble||$12 - $60|
Heated vinyl flooring costs $2 to $15 a square foot installed. When combining radiant flooring with a heated vinyl floor, the cost runs between $12 and $40 a square foot fully installed. Vinyl flooring is a very popular material for nearly every room of the home. It is water-resistant, resilient, and comfortable underfoot. It also comes in many installation styles, including the popular plank-style flooring.
Heated carpet costs between $2 and $21 a square foot, making the total cost for heated carpet between $12 and $46 a square foot. You can use radiant floor heating with carpeting, but you may not get the same results, depending on the carpet. Carpet is insulating, and it also has an insulating pad installed beneath it. These prevent some of the warmth from the floor from reaching the room above. Thinner carpets like Berber transfer heat better than thicker carpets like shag.
Concrete costs between $4 and $6 a square foot to pour. This makes the total cost of a heated concrete floor between $14 and $31 a square foot installed. Concrete floors are very popular in lofts and other contemporary homes. They can be polished to a high shine, stained various colors, or left natural. They also are a great floor for using with radiant heat. Because the tubing can be laid directly in the concrete, your floor is likely to feel even warmer at lower temperatures, allowing you to save more energy.
Laminate flooring costs between $8 and $15 a square foot installed. This makes the cost of heated laminated flooring between $18 and $40 a square foot installed. Laminate flooring is often installed as a low-cost alternative to wood flooring. Laminate is made up of many different layers of material that have been “laminated” together with heat. These floors do best in low-humidity situations, and a radiant floor heating system can work well with them.
Heated tile floor cost per square foot is between $9 and $30 a square foot installed. Even though tile floors are always technically at room temperature, their smooth, hard surface makes them feel cold underfoot. For this reason, many people choose to put radiant floor heating beneath their tile. This is particularly true of areas like bathrooms, where people are more likely to be barefoot.
Hardwood floors cost $10 to $25 a square foot installed. This makes the total cost of heated hardwood floors between $20 and $50 a square foot installed. Hardwood floors are one of the most popular flooring materials around. They come in numerous wood species with varying grain patterns and colors. Hardwood can be solid or engineered for greater stability, and both types can be used with radiant floor heating.
Marble floors cost between $12 and $60 a square foot installed. Marble has an elegant appearance that can enhance any room. It is also known for being cold to the touch, although it is actually at room temperature. For this reason, many people who install marble flooring also install radiant floor heating to make the marble more comfortable to walk on.
Your radiant floor installation cost depends on the location where the flooring is being installed. You can pay between $1,900 and $31,000, depending on your chosen location. The location of your floor may also dictate the type of flooring you use because certain flooring is more common in some rooms than others. Below you will see the average cost to install your radiant heat flooring depending on the chosen location.
|Floor Location||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Bathroom||$1,900 - $5,500|
|Kitchen||$2,500 - $7,500|
|Garage||$8,064 - $17,856|
|Basement||$11,200 - $31,000|
Heated floors in the bathroom run between $1,900 and $5,500, depending on the square footage of the bathroom. Most bathrooms average between 90 and 100 square feet and use heated tiles to complete the job. Radiant heating on a bathroom floor is a popular option as it allows you to step out of the shower or tub on a warm surface and keep the room at a more comfortable temperature. While the main pro is more even room heating, the main drawback is that it could require the bathroom floor height to be higher than the adjoining room.
On average, homeowners pay between $2,500 and $7,500 to install a radiant heating system in their kitchen. Most kitchens are between 100 and 200 square feet. The most common types of flooring used for heated kitchen floors are vinyl, tile, or hardwood. Heated flooring is popular in the kitchen because it is one of the more commonly used rooms in a home and also typically has a flooring type that is colder when you walk on it.
The cost of installing a heated garage floor is $8,064 to $17,856, depending on the system type. If you spend any time in your garage, you may want to add heat to the area. Radiant heat can be installed directly in the concrete floor, so you do not need to run ducts or install a radiator that takes up space. The average garage is around 576 sq.ft. and has a concrete floor. In most cases, you will use concrete flooring for this project unless your garage is used as an additional living space. A heated garage can be ideal for those who use their garage as a workshop or live in states with colder winter temperatures.
Radiant heat basement floor cost is between $11,200 and $31,000. Most often, concrete will be used for this type of installation, though carpet, laminate, and tile are all options. Most basements run between 800 and 1,000 square feet. Homeowners may choose only to install radiant heat on a portion, especially if it is a partially-finished basement. Homeowners often choose to add radiant heating to basements for both efficiency and comfort. Basements tend to be colder, and radiant heat can drastically improve the temperature. Additionally, since heat rises, heating the basement floor improves the overall heating of the house.
A concrete slab installation, known as a wet installation, is the most common method for radiant floor heating. The concrete creates more even heat with less heat loss. The process involves first putting down a layer of compressed sand or dirt, and then a layer of vapor barrier and insulation. If the concrete is reinforced, the mesh or rebar goes down next, and then the radiant heating tubing. This is usually zip-tied to the rebar or mesh, if used, or stapled to the insulation if not.
The concrete is poured over the tubing so that the tubing is embedded in the concrete. Once the concrete cures, the flooring can be installed over the top. Keep in mind that this will raise the height of the finished floor.
In a dry installation, a layer of plywood is put down first, then the tubing or wires, followed by another layer of plywood. This makes a type of “air sandwich” that helps insulate the floor. It is less invasive in a retrofit, so it is a popular option for existing homes.
If you install electric radiant heat in a small area like a bathroom, the mats or wires are usually embedded in a layer of thin-set mortar. The mortar is spread over the subfloor, and then the mats or wires are set into it. Another layer of mortar is spread on top before the final tile is installed.
The bulk of the radiant flooring cost is in the labor. Material fees only account for $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot of the installation. Labor costs an additional $8 to$12 per square foot, making the labor cost of a 2,000-square-foot installation $20,000 to $22,000.
Replacing a radiant heating system can cost anywhere between $18,000 and $50,000, depending on the size of the space and type of system being put in. If you only have to replace a portion of the system, you may only have to pay $3,000 to $10,000. The most common replacement is the boiler or pump since it wears out quicker than your flooring. But in some cases, the radiant flooring pipes in an area may become damaged and need to be replaced. Replacing a radiant heating system involves removing the old pipes, pumps, and heating mechanism and installing a new one. You save money on the preparation and layout since a system was already there. However, the cost will be more than installing a new system since the former system will have to be removed. The costs for removing your old system can be anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 of the replacement cost. Radiant systems are rarely completely replaced unless the whole system is unrepairable, or you want to switch over to a different type of system and the pipes in the flooring are old and should be replaced.
The cost to run radiant floor heating depends on several factors. This includes the system type and the fuel used to produce the heat. For example, if you have a hydronic system, you need a boiler. This can be electric, gas, propane, oil, or wood, and each has a different cost to heat the water.
Likewise, if you use electricity, the cost to run your floor is dependent on the cost of electricity in your area. In general, radiant heat costs 10 - 30% less than traditional heating systems.
Many factors determine the cost of operating hydronic radiant floor heating. The biggest factor is your boiler and the energy type needed to heat the water, followed by the system size. On average, a gas boiler, which is the most commonly used type for this system, costs $1.028 an hour to run, assuming a 100,000 BTU boiler. You may need a boiler that is larger or smaller than this, depending on where you live and the home size.
The cost to operate electric radiant floor heating depends on several things. The first is the installation size, the second is how much electricity the installation uses, and the third is the cost of electricity in your area. Most use roughly 12 watts per square foot per hour to run. The cost of electricity is currently $0.1319 per kilowatt-hour average in the U.S., making the cost to run electric radiant systems $0.00158 per square foot per hour to run.
Numerous factors go into whether radiant floor heating will save money on energy bills. The first is your boiler. Your boiler is what heats the water, and it requires energy to do so. Like furnaces, boilers have multiple degrees of efficiency, with more efficient boilers costing more. They can be powered by gas, oil, propane, or electricity, so exact costs vary.
Next, consider whether you have a concrete subfloor for the radiant heating or a dry layer of plywood. Concrete provides better performance so that you can maximize energy usage. Finally, how well-insulated the room is and what you set your temperature to also impact your savings.
According to the Radiant Professionals Allowance, most homeowners see an energy savings of between 10 to 30% a year on average.
Like any home project, installing radiant floor heating has positive and negative attributes to consider. In-floor heating is a very effective method of heating a house. It does so in three ways. First, directly heating the people and objects that come in contact with the floor is a method known as convection. This makes you feel warmer even if the air is cool. The floor may also “radiate” heat, which means that it warms items and objects inches to feet directly above it. And finally, it also heats the air that touches the floor, which rises, heating the rest of the room. Therefore, you can set the thermostat lower and use less energy to stay warm. There are no drafts or energy loss, so you are more comfortable as well. Because it remains on consistently, no hot and cool feeling occurs when the forced hot air turns on and off.
Radiant heating can be expensive to install, however. It requires a boiler and tubing that is ideally laid in concrete. While dry installations are available, sandwiching the coils between two layers of plywood, they tend to be a little less efficient at holding heat long term. Therefore, unless this is a new build, installing radiant heating requires very invasive construction throughout all the flooring of the home. Radiant floors also raise the height of your floor because they consist of a layer of compacted sand, followed by insulation, and then the tubing and concrete. This adds up to 3 to 4 inches to the height of your finished floor.
Radiant ceiling panels are one of the newest forms of radiant heating and cost between $200 and $500 each, fully installed. Radiant Ceiling heat cost per month is around 30% lower than other heating methods, improving your energy efficiency while maximizing comfort. They are fast and easy to install. They are also less invasive than installing radiant heating because you do not need to remove the current ceiling to install it. The system uses panels that attach to the ceiling, with each panel ranging in size from 2 to 4 feet in length and roughly 2 feet in width. They heat from above, with the heat reaching you directly through convection, making you feel warmer.
When installing a radiant floor heating system in a current room, you will need to make sure you have the proper amperage to control the system, or you could end up with significant electrical problems throughout your home. The system needs its own dedicated 15- to 20-amp power system equipped with a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter device to provide the right amount of power and ensure safety.
Your professional will check to ensure you meet all of the electrical requirements and may recommend an upgrade. If you need an electrician to install a new 15 to 20 amp circuit, you can expect to pay between $85 and $200.
When it comes to maintaining your radiant heat flooring, you will mostly focus on the boiler and pumps associated with it. If you have a newer pump, you will likely need no maintenance, but older ones may require lubrication of the bearings every couple of years. Boilers require maintenance that will often be performed at your annual boiler inspection. This includes cleaning the boiler, lubricating the bearings, cleaning the fire tubes, performing burner maintenance, and inspecting all electrical.
As for homeowners, one of the benefits of radiant heating is that there is almost no maintenance on their part. All the homeowner has to do is schedule regular maintenance for their system.
Another type of heating typically used in homes that do not have ducts is electric baseboard heating. This method uses small, electric radiators that line the baseboards of the walls. Like radiant heating, they “radiate” heat so that you feel warm near them. However, they tend to be very inefficient and expensive to run. They are inexpensive to install and less invasive, meaning you do not need to tear up existing flooring. They also do not raise the height of your finished floor after installation.
Radiant heating and furnaces heat rooms in very different ways. Radiant heat uses convection to warm you directly, while a furnace warms hot air that it circulates through the house. The cost to install a furnace and ducts is $5,790 for the furnace and $1,800 to $3,300 on average for the ducts for a total cost range of $7,590 to $9,090 for a 2,000 sq.ft. home. This is compared to the cost of radiant heating, which averages $28,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. home, not including the cost of the flooring that will be installed on top of the system.
Forced hot air uses a furnace to heat air that it circulates through ducts that lead to each room of the house. The air is pumped in at floor level, where it rises, heating the air as it goes. This can lead to inconsistent heating because the air will have hot and cold areas as it rises and falls.
In-floor radiant heating heats more consistently. It warms people and objects directly, so it makes the room feel warmer, allowing you to turn down the thermostat. At the same time, it also heats the air more evenly because the entire floor is heated, letting the warm air rise consistently.
Forced air systems can use the same ducts for air conditioning. This is a drawback of radiant floor systems because they do not also cool the house. Forced air systems cost between $7,590 and $9,090 to install, which is much less than the $28,000 average for in-floor radiant heating.
You can make your radiant flooring even more efficient with the use of a programmable thermostat. They cost between $100 and $250 and provide better control over your heating. You can set your programmable thermostat to match your routine to save energy when you are away but ensuring that your home is at comfortable temperatures when you return. Another option is smart thermostats, which cost between $100 and $400, depending on the model and features included. Smart thermostats can be programmed just like programmable ones but can learn your energy habits and make small adjustments to improve efficiency. They allow you to control your thermostat through your smartphone, so you can make temperature adjustments when you are away.
By adding insulation to your home, you can reduce your heating costs even more. Insulation helps stop heat transfer, which in turn keeps your home warmer with less energy. This way, you can turn down your thermostat even more. Whole-house insulation costs around $3,500 to $4,500 on average.
Another way to reduce your heating costs is by installing a geothermal heating system. Geothermal systems can be used to heat a hydronic radiant heat flooring system by taking heat from inside the earth and using it to warm the fluid inside your hydronic floor system. A geothermal heating system adds another $20,000 to the cost.
Radiant floor heating makes homes more comfortable and can save up to 30% over other types of heating.
You can choose radiant floor heating to heat your entire house if you choose. It is very efficient since heat rises and provides a good source for even heating in your home.
Radiant heating costs between $10 and $20 a square foot, more for electric installations.
Radiant floor heating is designed to be durable. In many cases, it will outlast other types of heating systems and has a life span of roughly 35 years.
While there are radiant cooling systems, they are uncommon and expensive. Standard radiant heat systems do not cool homes.
Yes, you can. You will have to set the temperature higher, however, to account for the extra insulation.