When it comes to a clean, healthy, and budget friendly way to heat a house, it is simply hard to compare to the effectiveness of an on-demand, radiant heat floor system.

heat a house
When it comes to heating our house, the radiant floor system has been amazing.

In fact, since installing one in our house at the farm, the results have been absolutely stunning. We have been in our house a full year now, and throughout last winter, our gas bill averaged under $100 a month. 

That figure becomes even more amazing when you consider that not only do we heat our entire home with natural gas, but also cook and provide our hot water with it! 

Although the pure savings are exciting enough, the advantages don’t stop there.

First, it eliminates the need for any duct work. Not only did it save time and money through the building process, it provides for a much healthier environment. No duct work means zero dust compared to traditional systems with forced air. And that means no worries about allergies and unhealthy air quality from dirty ducts or air filters down the road. Now, if the system could only keep our dog Jazzy from shedding, we would be completely set!  

But the biggest benefit of radiant heat by far is the incredible warmth it provides. It is hard to describe, but it is simply pure coziness. The heat comes from the floor and is all around you – with no blowing air to be too hot or too cold. Even better, you never have to worry about cold feet! It is nice to step out of bed, or into the shower on a cold winter day and feel warmth from below. 

How It Works – Using A Radiant System To Heat A House

The system is amazingly simple. Although it can be installed several ways in a new or existing home, we installed our system directly into the concrete slab as it was being poured.

heat a house
The radiant floor heat tubing installed as slab is poured

We actually acid stained the concrete slab to become our final floor. We love the look, and it was a great way to save more on the budget without having to install flooring.  (See  : Acid Staining Our Concrete Floors)

Before the slab was poured, a looping pattern of plastic tubing (pex tubing) was laid on foam sheets. The tubes were secured with large staples, and then the concrete was poured on top. In essence, the tubing is our “ductwork”.

Once the house was complete, the tubes were connected to our wall-mounted, on-demand, gas-fired water heater. Not only does the system act as our furnace, but it is also our hot water provider too. The unit only fires when needed, saving big on having a hot water tank sit idly by. It also means an unlimited supply of hot water when needed. No more running out of hot water if too many people take showers! 

We chose a Navien unit for our tankless system, and it has worked well so far. The heater measures only 28″ x 20″, and takes up much less space than a furnace and hot water tank combination. As for noise, It is nearly impossible to hear it run. 

Running The System

All we need do to activate the floor heat is simply turn the thermostat up, and it begins to slowly heat the floor. Unlike a traditional furnace, the system gets turned on in the fall and then back off in the spring.

No changing filters, and no worrying about that furnace kicking on for the first time to blow dust everywhere.

Cost Of The System

Maybe the best benefit of all is the overall cost of the system. Especially when considering from the standpoint of providing a new home heating and hot water source.

heat a house
Our on-demand, tankless, hot water heater.

The cost of our unit was right around $5000 installed. The actual system was around $4000.00. Tubing, hook-up, etc. added another $1000. A furnace alone would have broken than budget, and of course, as mentioned, it also eliminated the need for a hot water tank.

One thing is for sure, we couldn’t be happier with the heat and hot water it has provided. I hope we never have to build again, but if we ever did, radiant floor heat and an on-demand tankless system would be a must!

Happy Home Heating – Jim and Mary. If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, sign up via email at the bottom of this post. You can also like and follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.


16 thoughts on “An Incredibly Inexpensive, Efficient And Healthy Way To Heat A House

  • October 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm
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    Our first home, back in the day of the oil crisis and a huge increase in power bills, had heated floors. We judiciously kept the heat on low, but the house was always cozy, and so quiet. How I loved that dear little home, and now forty years later, it would once again be just the right size.

    • October 20, 2017 at 2:44 pm
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      Isn’t it crazy how the smaller houses always seem so cozy!

  • October 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm
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    We did the exact same thing when we built 9 years ago and are loving it still. A marine battery on an automatic trickle charger will easily run the circulation pump and small circuit board in the hot water heater for days in a power outage.
    We’ve since added a wood boiler that hooks into the same system, so we use practically no propane in the winter because it heats our domestic hot water as well!

    • October 15, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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      What a great idea for the battery back-up!

    • October 15, 2017 at 5:58 pm
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      Gennah –So you have the wood boiler as well as the on demand hot water heater? I assume if the wood boiler isnt going the other would then kick in? Boy that would be the very best system! It can get down to -20* here in winter, so am looking at best options for heat!

      • October 15, 2017 at 9:47 pm
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        That’s it exactly. We like it very much. My husband designed and built/installed the system. He had a great deal of time into research and it was not inexpensive for the various aquastats and components. But with some gumption, it is doable and a very nice setup. It takes a couple years to go through a propane delivery. Basically, since the boiler is ‘before’ the hot water heater, when the hot water heater ‘calls for’ water, the boiler has pre-heated it so the hot water heater never has to kick on. If there is no fire, the water heater does the job. The boiler is in a shed a few yards away from our back door, so no wood mess in the house.

  • October 15, 2017 at 1:16 pm
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    Always thought underfloor heat was the way to go but it seems I always buy existing, older houses so have to live with what is there. So, without forced air how do you cool in the summertime? Can’t live without air conditioning in South Carolina!

    • October 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm
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      We installed a Mitsubishi split AC unit that cools the entire area without vents. I have to say that together they really have worked out well for heating and cooling.

  • October 15, 2017 at 10:55 am
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    Would an electric (instead of gas) on demand water heater work as well for those off grid?

    • October 15, 2017 at 10:58 am
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      Yes, absolutely. Our neighbors use a wood burner with gas back up for theirs

    • October 15, 2017 at 2:40 pm
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      It would be lovely for off-grid in my opinion if the water heater (as a backup to a wood boiler possibly) was a propane model. The water heater uses a teeny bit of power for its circuit board and the circulating pump likewise uses a bit. Electrically-powered on-demand hot water heaters have a very large draw I believe. Our on demand hot water heater is a Takagi T-K3 and easily handles the home heat, washer, shower and dishwasher simultaneously. We can use a marine battery for days to run the floor pump and hot water heater circuit board. We live in Michigan with a slightly smaller home than the authors. Our home and system are 9 years old. We also have a wood boiler system we use in the winter. We use delivered propane in the summer.

  • October 15, 2017 at 10:37 am
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    Ania – Actually , the radiant heat heats that easily as well since it open to the floor below. With the heat rising, it stays really comfortable up there.

  • October 15, 2017 at 9:29 am
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    I do know that standing on cement for too long is hard on the back. Before I was forced to retire I had many days sitting in a tub trying to ease the pain from standing while troubleshooting the problems with equipment. even with covering we need something for we older citizens. it would need to provide cushion yet transfer the heat. this does provide the most even heat. I had a friend who used it in his wood shop and even in midwinter was quite comfortable without having high heat spots that provide too much heat in small areas

    • October 15, 2017 at 10:39 am
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      We were concerned about that, but we have some large thick rugs where we sit, and it has not a problem as of yet. You are correct about the no heat spots too, that is one of the big benefits.

  • October 15, 2017 at 8:36 am
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    Wow, that is amazing! Id not seen the on-demand used with floor heating…brilliant! And that its the hot water heat as well! Your heat bills are proof….can I ask how cold it gets where you are, and approx the sq footage you are heating?
    🙂

    • October 15, 2017 at 10:40 am
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      Brenda, We live in the middle of Ohio, so winters here can be pretty cold. We were fortunate to have a more mild winter last year – but we still had week long stretches where the temps were down near zero at night and in the teens all day. Our house is 1054 square feet, but the actual system could easily heat 2 to 3 times that. Hope that helps! Jim

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