October 28/November 4, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 9
By Arthur Mintie
As the world becomes more focused on smart home technology, the tile and flooring industry has made leaps forward to make products that adapt to a new way of living. New products focus on their ability to contribute to green, sustainable living that benefits the greater good, especially as we continue to face global issues like climate change. Going green is no longer a bonus, but an expectation that must be met by construction professionals.
Electric radiant floor heating is a high-end design feature that is growing in popularity in both new homes and renovations that focus on clean, comfortable living and come with many benefits such as consistent, energy-efficient warmth. Through a series of wires, electric radiant floor heating systems produce heat through thermal radiation, which is absorbed by surrounding objects that in turn help warm the entire room.
With the systems that are produced today, customers can significantly lower their home or business’ kilowatt usage and reduce energy costs. Some companies even claim to have achieved a 15% decrease via thermal diffusion technology methods that eliminate cold spots with even heat generation. Increasingly, the wires used to transfer the heat are also being designed to achieve the utmost in customization, which not only allows for variability in design output but also directly impacts heat output.
Particularly for those with allergies, the way heat is conducted through electric radiant floor heating systems can also help improve air quality as it does not require air to be blown around, mitigating dust.
Once a system is in place, it must be covered with a finished flooring material. Tile is one of the best materials to choose because of its ability to conduct heat. To continue on the greenest path possible, one may also want to consider wood as it is a sustainable and renewable flooring option. Many wood types are compatible with electric radiant floor heating, such as American cherry, teak or bamboo, but installers should contact the manufacturer of their desired floor heating system to ensure compatibility. It’s best to avoid carpet because the thick padding typically installed will act as an insulator, making it more difficult for the heat to conduct through the floor.
To control the heating systems there are typically two options. Customers can either select a regular thermostat or opt for a Wi-Fi-enabled system that further promotes green living. With the user able to control the floor’s heat via a smartphone, these systems can learn routines and apply the most efficient settings to reduce heating usage. The addition of a radiant floor heating system work in the user’s favor to save money both short term and in the long run of the floor’s life cycle. While there is an initial investment, the payoff and benefit of the floors are worth it.
Ultimately, the greenness of the floor heating system depends on how power is generated. Electricity can come from fossil fuels or it can be produced from renewable sources like sun or wind power. Either method produces the electricity to power the system, but the latter is the better choice for the environment.
Arthur Mintie, senior director of technical services, Laticrete International, is responsible for overseeing the operations of the company’s technical services department, which provides technical assistance to specifiers and designers.