Radiant floor heating is becoming more popular in American homes. It tends to be more efficient than traditional forced-air systems and makes a good alternative to baseboard heat as well.
Radiant floor heat eliminates the energy loss you see with ducted systems, plus it reduces dust and allergens because it doesn’t rely on a fan to circulate air. But can radiant floor heat be used to cool your home too?
The answer is YES, but it’s a little more complicated than you might think.
Why Don’t Most In Floor Systems Have a Cooling Option?
With the correct system, you can have in-floor cooling but it’s not a very popular choice. Most radiant floor heating systems generally don’t include a provision for cooling and there’s a good reason for that.
For starters, while in-floor heating is a popular, energy efficient option, in-floor cooling doesn’t meet the same standards. In-floor cooling is not as effective as a traditional AC or mini split system.
It can take a while to cool down a space using in-floor cooling and you have to be mindful of your environment for optimum performance.
As a homeowner, you will need to be sure to keep shades closed during the day so the sunlight doesn’t heat up your floors. You will also need to make sure your home is well-insulated to keep the cool temperatures from leaching out.
Another big reason against in-floor cooling is humidity. Traditional ACs and heat pumps have a way to deal with condensate. In-floor cooling does not, which means humidity poses a big problem with these systems.
There is a risk of water damage as moisture in the air accumulates on surfaces cooled below the dew point.
If you are in an area with hot, humid summers, you will need to address humidity concerns with a dehumidification system.
Climates with dry summers won’t have as big of a problem here, but it is still something to watch out for. Areas like the Southwestern US will have luck with in-floor cooling.
What Do I Need for In-Floor Cooling?
You need a heat pump system that can provide both cooling and heating. If you have an existing boiler with radiant in-floor heating, you will need to make some upgrades.
This can get pretty expensive, which is another reason in-floor cooling isn’t as popular. Most homeowners tend to choose a mini split system or even a window AC unit to accompany boiler heat. These systems are more efficient and will cool your home faster than in-floor cooling.
However, if you live in a dry climate and want in-floor cooling, you have some decent options on the market. Unless you have a background in HVAC, this isn’t a job to DIY.
You’re going to want to contact a company that specializes in in-floor heating. Not all HVAC companies install these systems as they aren’t as popular in the US.
Last Few Words
While in-floor radiant heat is a popular and efficient heating option, in-floor cooling can pose some challenges. If you live in a humid environment, you may wish to consider another cooling alternative.
Mini split systems are by far the most popular choices for homes reliant on boiler heat.