Responses (3)

Robert J. Pierson 4 years ago

Hi Jennifer, 

If I understand correctly, you’re doing a radiant floor in the basement but it isn’t living space? That seems costly for no reason, since the benefit of radiant heat is all about delivering comfort to occupants; it won’t be more energy-efficient. In fact, in your case it may actually be ‘less’ efficient since increasing the temperature of the concrete will increase the rate of heat loss to the ground. If you just want to keep the basement warm for uses such as laundry, access to mechanical systems and storage, then I’d consider sticking a few electric radiators down there and pocketing the savings compared installing a radiant heating system, which will be in the thousands.

And since you live in British Columbia electric is your best choice in our opinion, see here the advantages of heating with electricity.

Over 90% of energy in British Columbia comes from renewable resources, so heating with electricity would be the greenest heating system for you, though I can’t speak to pricing for a couple of reasons -the price of natural gas in BC ranges from $1.50 to almost $7.00,  Secondly, there is graduated pricing for electricity, so the most you use the more it costs.

But here’s a life hack for you – if a pretty obvious one – invest more in insulating will help keep your costs down, but since BC bumps you up to a higher price range, if you build a super insulated home you may be able to keep your actually heating rate lower.

We built a demo house in Quebec that is all electric, and the entire electrical load (stove, water heater, lighting, heating) comes to just over $500 per year. Read more about the LEED Platinum Edelweiss house heating and electrical systems here.

If it were me, I would only do radiant heating on floors I occupy as living space, and only on floors that are in direct contact with the ground like basements or slab on grade floors. For wood framed and finished upper floors I would not personally ad radiant as it would just assume the temperature of the home, so it would be niether too hot nor too cold. Even picky little Goldilocks would be pleased. 

If it’s a small home and a reasonably open concept, I would likely knock it out of the park with insulation and airtightness so I don’t need to ad much heat, then I would take that money I saved by not installing a radiant floor in the basement and I’d buy a mini-split ductless heat pump which operates at 3 times the efficiency, and I may stick a tiny radiator in each bedroom just to be sure. That way I get air conditioning out of the deal too.  This to me would be the greenest, cheapest and most sensible heating system.

You will see all that stuff listed in the Edelweiss House link above, if you want any further advice don’t hesitate to ask.