Green Heating and Cooling Options: Heat Your Home Without Burning Through Your Wallet

Eco underfloor heating
Michelle Tether
Written by Michelle Tether

Although converting a home from traditional heating, cooling, and electrical methods may cost a bit much initially, government grants are available to help offset the hit. By incorporating components such as radiant heat, geothermal heat, solar panels, and green insulation, a home can increase in market value and become more environmentally friendly, it’ll also help reduce energy bills significantly. In some cases, you’ll be able to reduce your costs to zero! This could be your perfect green resolution. It’s certainly costly but if you are building a new home this isn’t all that expensive and you’ll enjoy the benefits for the lifetime of your ownership of that home.

Radiant Heat

Radiant heating, also known as floor heating or infrared heating, and works by transferring heat from a hot surface directly to a room. This works much like a stove which heats the kitchen while in use. Here’s a really good example with reflective foil as well to maximise the amount of heat going upwards. This is the perfect strategy for your ground floor as you don’t want the heat to be lost downwards.

Radiant Heat

Image source. Radiant heat – a perfect example

As you can see this is the perfect time to plan – why not pick a hardwood floor design since it’s all got to be pulled up anyway, I’ve made an article on how to lay hardwood flooring as well if you’d like. Radiant heating is far more efficient than forced air or floorboard heating because unlike these methods, radiant heating does not require the use of ducts to transport heated air. The heat simply “radiates” from the surface, which can be a wall or floor, and is moved around a room due to convection. Radiant heating systems can use a variety of energy sources, including natural gas, oil, electricity, and water. Ideally, you would try to run this system from your solar panels. Slow drip fed heat works really well here. If you were really into this, you could buy smart solar glazing that would power this really nicely. The solar power from the glazing would power this system along nicely. The cost’s to start would be significant but the payback guaranteed.

There are three types of radiant floor heat:

Air-heated radiant floors

These are the least efficient variation of radiant floor heat because these systems still require a furnace to heat air and transport it through floorboards. Although these furnaces can be run using solar panels, they are still rather costly to run.

Electric radiant floors

This system is comprised of electric cables that are run beneath floorboards and are heated using electricity. This option is best used for small home additions that require heating. Rather than running additional heating ducts from a furnace, it is typically more economical to run a few electric heating coils beneath the floor. The downside to this option is the cost to run it – depending on the geographical location, the cost of electricity versus gas or oil may be greater. This system would go very nicely in a new bathroom. Plan well and this wouldn’t increase costs all that much but will bring significant benefits.

Hydronic radiant floors

This is definitely the preferred method if you can afford the whole kit. Solar will provide your home with continual warmth for free.

Hydronic radiant floors

Image source. Hydronic radiant floors

The primary component in this most commonly used heating option is a hot water boiler. This system works by pumping heated water through coils that are located under floorboards. By installing several zoning pumps, a homeowner can control the temperature in each room separately.

Geothermal Heat

Geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground-source or GeoExchange, work by utilising the constant temperature of the earth located just below the surface, which typically ranges from 45 to 75 degree F year-round. These systems also can be used to cool as well.

Geothermal Heat

Geothermal Heat – best system on the market bar none.

Geothermal heat pumps are highly energy efficient (300% – 600% more efficient than traditional systems) due to their mode of operation. Rather than altering the temperature of air located outside, geothermal heat pumps use the temperature located below the earth’s surface as its main source. Because this surface temperature is warmer than that of air in the winter and cooler than that of air in the summer, the heating/cooling system runs less to achieve the same goal.
Despite the rather large price tag for installing a geothermal system, the long-term benefits justify the cost.

There’s another factor in play here. Since the tubes spread around your property and large amounts of digging is required. You definitely want to do this first. It would be a bad idea to lay your decking and then install this. If I had the money, I wouldn’t do it any other way. Be warned it’s pricey but then you really get what you pay for here. As you can see from the image there are a long series of tubes that pump heat from the ground up. What your can’t see very well in this image is the tubing can be hundreds of metres.

About the author

Michelle Tether

Michelle Tether

I love everything home. I write as a passion for non profit about the things I love.

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