Radiant Heating

Two of the most popular topics commonly discussed today are using our resources wisely and saving money. I am constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and become more personally independent.

Independence from the Power Company is a big step in the right direction!

One of the most costly expenses I have identified is heating my home. This can be doubly true for homesteading Baby Boomers.  Power may not even be available to a rural property, and if you’ve hit retirement, your cash flow is likely reduced as well.

A solution I found to be cost-effective, efficient and viable is utilizing radiant solar heat. What better energy method to replicate, than one from the most powerful source we know? The sun.

Use Radiant Heating For Your Home

The radiant heating method reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, which therefore reduces our dependence on many other items and entities – like power companies. This method heats objects through electromagnetic infrared waves.

It is a fact of nature that when two objects are in the same space, the warmer one will heat the cooler one until they reach a state of balance. Thus, the waves radiate from the heat source and are absorbed by objects they hit. Those objects will then slowly radiate the heat from their mass, to the area around them. This is much more cost effective than heating an entire room of empty space by blowing hot air through the vents.

Radiant heating can be implemented using the sun, or fire, to heat an object such as stones, barrels of water or boulders.  The heat can then be transferred into the home by placing the heated objects inside at night.

Many people have their homes designed to have a specific area on the south-facing side of their home to be filled with boulders or water barrels which are heated by the sun during the day.  At night, the area is blocked off by curtains or shutters so that the heat doesn’t radiate back out into the yard!  It’s reflected into the house to heat it.

Another method I love to do on cold winter nights is heating up rocks in the sun, or over the fire, and then wrapping them in a towel and putting them at the foot of my bed. They make the bed nice and toasty, even on the coldest of nights.

Additionally, systems have been created that utilize this heating method in more advanced ways. The most common system used to heat a home using radiant energy is through hydronic heating. This method uses water heating pipes installed under the floor. The pipes heat the floor and then transfer that heat to objects in the room, like you. Once installed, this type of heating system uses 15%-30% less energy than other heating systems.

The water can be heated by a traditional water heater, or solar water collectors on the roof or south side of the home.

Advantages of Solar Radiant Heat

There are several benefits to using the solar radiant heating method. This type of heat does not flow from a baseboard or vent. This allows for greater flexibility in furniture arrangement. This type of heating system is much safer for children because there are no dangerous hot surfaces that they may come in contact with.

The most convincing advantage of solar radiant heat systems is their efficiency. This method not only reduces dependence on power companies, but heating costs as well. Heat is effectively delivered to the desired areas with or without the use of ducts, depending upon the design and complexity of your system. In the case of a power failure, radiant heat is still an option and will prevail until the heat has dissipated. Additionally, this method offers noise reduction and a higher quality of indoor air.

Drawbacks of Solar Radiant Heat

If you don’t use ducting for your heating, the lack of ductwork becomes a disadvantage for cooling. Cooling is usually accomplished by an entirely separate system, such as a condenser or heat pump.

In some cases, it is necessary to use a dehumidifier to avoid condensation build up on floors with radiant systems. Perhaps the largest disadvantages is finding a contractor who is knowledgeable with their installation and repair.  A single punctured water hose in the floor can be a disaster!

Costs Incurred

To begin, it is estimated that an average home can save 25% in heating costs by using the radiant heat system method. It is not realistic to have a goal of 100% power replacement. That being said, there are cases in which up to 70% of power costs may be saved using the radiant solar heat system method. There are also tax credits available to those who use an advanced system.

The cost of proper and professional installation, as well as effective maintenance, should also be calculated.

The median cost of installing a radiant solar heating system is around $9,500; however, this is not set in stone. The price is greatly dependent upon the system installed, the expected systems it will be replacing and the professional contractor performing the installation.  Many types of these systems are DIY friendly!

All things considered, radiant heating is an option to consider in the case of emergencies and also to supplement your everyday heating needs. Nature has provided us a way to stay warm efficiently and effectively.

Whether you are opting for the old fashioned techniques, or more modern systems, you have options to heat your home with radiant energy.


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