We live in a golden age where for almost every problem there are multiple solutions. One such problem is how to heat and cool a building during scorching summers and long winter nights.
Traditionally, the solution has been an air conditioning system (HVAC), where hot and cold air is pumped into a room. However, there are alternative solutions that are becoming more and more appealing.
Slab hydronic heating and cooling is one of these solutions. Here are 7 things you should know about slab hydronic heating and cooling.
1. The Problem With HVAC
HVAC; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; has been the standard for climate control for some time now. The concept is simple: warm air is pumped in to heat a room, cool air is pumped in to chill a room.
However, there are downsides to the HVAC system.
For starters, air is not a good conductor of heat, making it an inefficient and wasteful system. This is the biggest downside and means that you're paying more than you should be for wasted heat. Opening up a power bill and having your jaw drop is not an appealing thought.
And because air is being pumped throughout a home, different rooms will be heated and cooled differently. One bedroom might be sweltering hot while another is freezing cold.
You Have A Cold? So Do I!
Nobody likes getting sick, but it might not be enough to quarantine yourself from someone with a cold. Unfortunately, ventilation systems are a great delivery system for bacteria, germs, mold, and a bunch of other stuff that isn't fun to breath.
HVAC systems can be loud to the point of annoyance. How many times have you had to change the volume on your TV or start yelling during a conversation just because the air conditioner decided to kick on. It's just a small nuisance that isn't necessary.
2. Slab Hydronic Heating
Hydronic heating is a kind of radiant heating that works by pumping heated water, from a boiler or water heater, through pipes that run throughout out a room. In this case, the pipes are located in the slab, underneath the floor.
Heat leaves the water and warms the room. Because water is a better conductor of heat than air, this is a much more efficient system than HVAC. This is the most appealing aspect of hydronic heating.
3. Slab Hydronic Cooling
This works pretty much as you would expect. Instead of heated water, cool water is pumped throughout pipes to chill a room.
Aside from being a more efficient system in general, there are a few more positives to take into account.
The system is quiet, a stark contrast to the mechanical whine of an air conditioning system.
As mentioned previously, it is a more efficient system than air conditioning and will end up saving you money in the long run. This system is actually 30% more efficient. Think of hydronic heating and cooling as an investment.
This efficiency also means that a room will be heated and cooled evenly. And even if power is lost, the room will retain its heat for awhile due to the heat remaining in the water.
There are, however, a few downsides to this system...
The cost of entry is the largest downside of hydronic heating and cooling. The overall cost depends on the building, and if a boiler or water heater is needed. Generally, the price for installation can run from $6,000 to $14,000.
Installation and repairs can be a complicated as well as costly. It is more appealing to install when a building is first being constructed or remodeled, as opposed to attempting to install with a slap already in place.
Additionally, hydronic heating and cooling doesn't work with all floor types. For example, carpets can cause problems with radiant heating by trapping heat and not allowing it to exit the floor.
6. Which Environment Is It Best For?
Hydronic heating and cooling is great in almost any environment. Residential, commercial, and industrial settings all have something to benefit from this system.
This system is great for residential setting (As you'll see in section 7). Its efficiency ensures a low monthly cost. It's silent and out of the way, which creates a very comfortable setting to live in.
As mentioned, hydronic heating and cooling is great for ensuring that not everyone gets sick during an outbreak of a cold. And, because it's out of the way, the system allows for an increased amount of usable space.
Hydronic heating and cooling will provide stable temperatures year round, ensuring that anything cost and temperature sensitive is safe. As with commercial spaces, the system is built into the building, freeing up room for workers, machinery, and supplies.
7. What It Actually Feels Like
I've actually been fortunate enough to experience underfloor heating while on vacation in South Korea (over there, it's called an ondol). It was the middle of winter, with temperatures dropping to about -5 degrees Celsius.
The underfloor heating was an incredibly pleasant experience. The room I stayed in was whisper quiet without an air conditioning system. The air was crisp, and the floors were warm, which created a cozy feeling that travels up the body.
Whether or not you decide to pursue hydronic heating and cooling, it's definitely interesting to experience.
Slab hydronic heating and cooling is an excellent alternative to the traditional air conditioning system. While the initial cost may be high, the system will lower your monthly bills and allow you to take greater control over your living or work space.
Ultraflow Indoor Climate Systems offer several climate solutions that are out of sight, cost-effective, completely silent, and catered to specific locations. Our engineers and water management specialists will work with you from the very beginning to ensure the delivery on an incredible system, no matter the setting.
If you're looking to renovate or build from the ground up, you owe it to yourself to look into an alternative to air conditioning that could completely change the way you feel about entering a room.