Radiant vs. Forced Air Heat

In a climate like West Michigan, where winters can be frigid and brutal, heating is a major expense. That’s why it pays to know which heating system will be best for your home. The major debate is between forced air and radiant heat.

Forced Air Heating

Forced air heating heats the air in your home with ducts and blowers. Hot air is literally pushed up through vents in the floors or walls to circulate around you. There are several positives to forced air heating systems, but frankly, more draw-backs.

Pros of Forced Air

One benefit of forced air is that it works quickly. This goes both ways: you can heat a room quickly with forced air, and you can cool it quickly as well. Forced air is also economical to install.

Cons of Forced Air

On the other hand, forced air is not very efficient, nor is it inexpensive to run. The necessary ducts take up a lot of space in your home, and as warm air travels through them, leaks can cause energy waste. Forced air also notoriously heats homes unevenly, leaving basements and floors cold while the heat rises. Lastly, because forced air is physically moving the air around you, dust and debris can exacerbate asthma, allergies, and other health problems.

Radiant Heating

The term “radiant heat” does not refer to how the heat in the home is produced. Rather, it refers to how the heat is distributed. That is, radiant heat does not warm the actual air in your home like forced air does; it warms the surfaces of your home—usually the floors. Radiant heating is often done with boilers. These boilers heat up water that then circulates through coils installed in the floor.

Pros of Radiant Heat

Radiant heat is much more efficient than forced air, and after the initial cost of installation, these systems will save you money on your energy bills every month. You’ll also get increased comfort because temperatures stay consistent. Imagine comfortably walking barefoot on wood or tile floors in the dead of winter!

Cons of Radiant Heat

Likely the biggest drawback of radiant heat is the price tag upon installation. But this should not be altogether discouraging because you’ll pay off that initial investment with smaller monthly utility bills. In addition, you might also be eligible for federal tax breaks and utility provider rebates when you use this type of energy-efficient system.

Right now, a lot of heating in Holland and the rest of Michigan is done with forced air, but times are changing. Radiant heat is becoming more popular because of its high energy efficiency and money-saving qualities.

Chad Baumann
SALES & MARKETING MANAGER
Residential comfort expert. Recognized nationally as a top 40 under 40 in the HVAC industry. 10 years of experience in the HVAC field.