Hydronic Heating Explained and Compared
Hydronic heating is also known as hot water heating. Water is an excellent heat transfer medium because it readily absorbs, holds and gives off that heat. Air on the other hand is typically used as an insulator so more energy is required to heat air and move it through ducts. Forced air heating is the most common type of heating and cooling today because of the relatively inexpensive cost of ductwork. It also allows for only one air handling system for both heating and cooling.
Hydronic heating is more expensive to install because of the labour intensive cost of running plastic piping through the building. However, because of the nature of water, it requires substantially less energy to heat it and to move it through the system. When you have a large volume of hot water in a radiator, air convection occurs naturally over the radiator as cold air from the floor heats and rises. This convection causes gentle air currents in the space to be heated and results in an even, consistent heat. Hot water and steam radiators were the first central heating technologies to be used as early as the early 1900s.
With hydronic heat, warm water pipes can be placed in the floor encased in concrete, they can be placed between floors in the building in the joist space, or can be terminated by heat emitters such as attractive hot water radiators or fan assisted blower heaters. Today, the most efficient way of heating with hydronic heat is to encase the piping in concrete on your floor. The concrete has a great amount of Thermal Mass. Therefore it works like a rechargeable battery. It stores the heat and gives it off as needed to heat the space. As well, the human body prefers to have more heat around it's lower extremities and less heat around the torso. Infloor heat is perfect for this as the temperature by the floor is warmer than the temperature higher up. As a result, a thermostat positioned at 5 feet is typically programmed at a much lower temperature than one with forced air because the lower extremities are naturally comfortable.
Hydronic heat offers the most efficient and comfortable heating solutions available today. The water can be heated with gas, propane, wood or electrically fired boilers. In areas where Air Conditioning is not required in the Summer, despite the higher upfront cost of hydronic heat, the savings in energy alone will pay for the system in a few years and will continue well into the future. Where Air Conditioning is required, secondary systems such as ductless systems must be installed. Regardless, for many customers, the comfort and efficiency of hydronic heating solutions outweigh the constraints of the system. Whether you want to heat with Forced Air or Hydronic solutions such as hot water radiators or infloor heat, we can assist with gas, propane, wood energy or a combination of different energies to satisfy even the most challenging heatiing requirements.