Under-floor heating involves either hot water pipes or electric heating elements placed underneath the floor of a room or an entire home, turning the floor into a radiant heater. These systems can be more energy efficient than other heating methods but also function slower and are expensive to install.
In an electrical under-floor heating system, wire coils or pre-formed heating pads are connected to a thermostat, heating in response to an electrical current. In a water-based system, flexible pipes are connected to a central water heater, which warms the liquid before pumping it through the system. Electric systems tend to be easier to install than water-based systems, while water heating systems tend to be more energy efficient and hold on to heat longer. Both are slower to warm than traditional furnaces, taking time to reach optimal temperatures.
Under-floor heating systems are quieter than a conventional furnace, and may be beneficial for allergy and asthma sufferers because they do not involve blowing air and dust around a home. Because the entire floor of a room becomes a heater and heat rises, these systems do not generate temperatures as high as other heating units, reducing energy costs. However, the installation costs of these systems can be prohibitive, especially in whole-home installations.