Posted on: 05.01.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Floor heating and forced air are two of the most popular heating options in many households. Heating rooms accounts for 45% of your monthly energy costs, so your choice between the two plays an important role in how much you pay to stay warm in the winter.

A floor heating system is great for delivering even warmth in a room, while forced air works best when heating the entire house. However, a forced air system heats a room up faster. Installation costs favor a floor heating system, but a forced air system is more cost-effective for large rooms.

This article will take a closer look at both heating methods and compare them based on various metrics to help you make the best decision. You’ll also see buying advice and important tips to consider for each of them.

What is Floor Heating?

As the name suggests, floor heating is a heating system that is installed on the baseboards in a house. From there, it delivers even warmth. A thermostat controls the temperature. The floor heating system can be either electric or hydronic. Electric floor heating effectively heats individual rooms and office spaces, but it becomes expensive if you have to heat the entire house with it.

On the other hand, hydronic floor heating relies on hot water to heat your home. The water is heated by a boiler system, which also distributes the hot water through a pipe system to keep the room or whole house warm. Since heating the water takes a while, it generally takes longer than other heating options to heat a house.

The consistency of floor heating is one reason why it is popular in residential areas where large temperature fluctuations are not required. Additionally, floor heating is non-toxic as it does not release carcinogenic gases or contribute to reducing the air quality of the room through circulating pollutants. Installation is also easy and generally affordable.

What is Forced Air Heating?

Forced air heating systems are more elaborate heating solutions designed to deliver heat faster across larger rooms. The system relies on a furnace to heat the air, and the hot air is pushed into the house through the ducts and vents around the house.

HVAC air filters are also important in the setup, as they help keep the air clean and fresh. Like a floor heating system, a thermostat controls the temperature. However, the consistency is not the same as a floor heating system, as the system is designed to intermittently pump hot air through the ducts. Nonetheless, forced air heating systems heat a house faster than floor heating systems.

Energy Efficiency

If you’re looking for the most efficient energy heating option, the hot water floor heating is the better option. This is because a cubic inch of water carries much more heat energy than a cubic inch of air. So, you will incur less costs with a hot water floor heating system compared to a forced air heating system. Electric floor heating can be more expensive depending on the size of the room.

Winner: Floor Heating (Hydronic)

Installation and Design

If you want to use a forced air heating system in your house, you’ll need to allocate a lot of space inside the house for the ducts to be installed. Keep in mind that you’ll need a significant volume to transport heated air. This means you’ll need ample space for ducts.

In comparison, a hot water floor heating system only requires an arrangement of 8-inch copper pipes to transport the hot water. The small pipes can be neatly and easily tucked away within the house. If you opt for an electric floor heating system, you’ll have even less design and installation logistics to worry about.

Winner: Floor Heating

Maintenance Requirements

Forced air systems blow hot air through ducts. Over time, dust and other particles accumulate in the ducts. This requires regular cleaning. The cleaning process is tedious and requires hiring a company equipped with cleaning equipment.

Electric floor heating systems do not require as elaborate maintenance. Most of the time, you will simply need to remove the dust on the boards.

Hydronic systems also do not require much maintenance. The water in the system can be reused for years, even after it has changed its color due to absorbing minerals in the copper pipes. Before turning on the heating for the year, you should bleed the pipes and vacuum the heating element.

Winner: Floor Heating

Summer Use

It is always nice to have a system that can deliver cold air in the summer and warm air in the winter. A floor heating system does not work in this regard, as most electric variants do not have the feature to deliver cold air in the summer. Hydronic systems also do not work in the summer because cold water flowing through copper causes condensation damage.

Here, forced air heating scores as the specifically designed system can seamlessly push out cold air through the same ducts even at warmer outside temperatures. To achieve this, you will need an air conditioning unit for the system. With both an air conditioning and heating system, you can switch between cold and warm air depending on the temperature.

Winner: Forced Air Heating

Health Risks

Floor heating systems distribute heat evenly by relying on the existing airflow in the room—a process known as convection airflow heating. It does not introduce new particles into the air. Forced air, on the other hand, blows air from a vent connected to the furnace. The furnace draws in air from outside to operate. Even with filters in place, the furnace cannot filter out smaller particles such as allergens. These can enter the house.

Winner: Floor Heating

Noise Level

Today’s forced air heating systems are designed for quiet operation, but some can also be noisy. The hot water floor heating can become loud during operation. This is due to the constant expansion and contraction of the soft copper during use. Some technicians use PEX pipes as an alternative to copper pipes to avoid this issue.

Winner: Tie


Comparing the costs of floor heating and forced air heating is difficult as many variables need to be taken into account. The costs of equipment vary from one part of the country to another, and qualified technicians charge different rates. You also need to consider the efficiency of the boiler/furnace and the size of rooms in different houses. The combination of these factors makes it difficult to make an accurate comparison.

Winner: Variable

Pros of Floor Heating

  • Installation costs are lower compared to other heating systems.
  • It is more energy-efficient and cost-effective in smaller rooms due to the physics associated with using hot water or electricity to heat small spaces.
  • It provides consistent heat supply throughout the room.
  • It does not release carcinogenic gases or allergens.
  • Hydronic floor heating is environmentally friendly.
  • No ductwork is required, making installation more straightforward.
  • The absence of ductwork means little ongoing maintenance is required.

Cons of Floor Heating

  • The system’s design means it cannot generate heat in large quantities required to heat a small room.
  • It takes longer to heat up a room from scratch.
  • The boiler and water pump can fail from time to time.

Pros of Forced Air Heating

  • It provides fast heating at any time, regardless of the room size.
  • The setup can be designed to meet both heating and cooling needs.
  • The system’s design promotes better air circulation throughout the house.
  • The air filter can improve indoor air quality when regularly replaced.

Cons of Forced Air Heating

  • It can become noisy.
  • Pollutants from outside can enter through the filters and spread throughout the house.
  • The ducts can become leaky quickly.
  • The installation process is expensive and demanding.

What Should You Choose?

The biggest selling point for floor heating over forced air is the even heating it provides. However, this advantage diminishes when you need to heat a large room. Forced air heating systems do not provide even heat, but they heat up all types of rooms faster. However, the installation process may not be suitable for your home.

The right option depends on your individual preferences. Two homeowners in the same situation may choose one over the other, even when presented with all the facts we’ve covered so far. Choose the option that fits your budget and serves your heating needs the most.

Factors to Consider When Looking for the Best Floor Heating

Have you decided on a floor heating system? Here are some factors to consider when you want to install one (or more).

The prices for floor heating can range from as low as $50 to as high as $500. You need to have a clear idea of what you expect from your heating before setting a budget. Don’t forget to consider additional costs like the price of a thermostat and the fees of your installer when calculating your budget.

Your Flooring Type
The type of your flooring can affect the performance of your floor heating. For example, carpets are warmer due to the additional insulation they provide. If you have hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors, you need to make sure you choose a floor heating system that can keep them warm.

Carpets are less demanding, but some floor heating systems can scorch the carpet. You should discuss this with the dealer to understand how your flooring affects your choice.

Overall Design of Your House
Floor heating systems generally work best from room to room. This means you will typically need a separate heating unit for your living room and another one for your bedroom, etc. However, if you live in an open floor plan, you may be able to choose a powerful floor heating system that is sufficient to cover the entire space.

Internal Thermostat
Your floor heating system won’t work without an internal thermostat. Make sure your chosen heating unit has one. On these, you will find two types of thermostats: the single-pole and the double-pole thermostat. The former can only be turned down but never turned off, while the latter is equipped with an on-off switch when you need to turn it off.

The Heating Capacity
The heating capacity on a floor heating system is measured in watts. You need to look at the number to know what to expect from your chosen unit. A good tip to keep in mind here is that you will need about 10 watts to heat one square meter of living space.

That should give you an idea of the capacity to look for when purchasing your heating unit. However, don’t go with exact matching numbers. You should choose a floor heating system with 25% more watts than you need to ensure adequate heat.

Safety Tips for Floor Heating Systems to Consider

To ensure your floor heating system can be used safely and to guarantee a longer lifespan, always follow some safety tips.

Maintain Airflow
With a floor heating system, it’s very important to maintain good airflow at all times. This allows the room to heat up faster and ensures the longevity of the heating unit. Remove any materials that could block the airflow around the heater, and do not use it for applications that can damage it, such as drying clothes.

Keep Flammable Items Away
Items that can catch fire should not be placed near your floor heating system. Such items hinder the functioning of the heater, as we mentioned above, but there is always a risk of fire. If the item is flammable and becomes hot enough, it can cause a fire. Keep all such items as far away from the heater as possible.

Regularly Clean
Floor heating systems are typically installed close to the floor. This means they can accumulate dust fairly easily. A small amount of dust won’t harm the heater, but you will notice a general decrease in performance after a prolonged period. The heater can also burn out quickly if you continue to ignore the dust. You should clean the grilles on the heater every month.

Factors to Consider When Looking at Forced Air Heating Systems

The furnace is the heart of your forced air heating system. Most of your decision should revolve around that. Here are the key factors to consider:

The BTU Capacity
You need to ensure you choose a unit with the right heating capacity to adequately heat your home. A good tip is to make sure you have about 30-60 BTUs per square foot of living space. This calculator can help you better calculate how many BTUs you need for your home. Factors considered in the calculation include the age of your property and your location.

Oftentimes, it’s better to have an overpowered furnace than one that is too small, so you should go with a slightly higher BTU than what you reach with the calculator. Most houses of around 2,500 square feet require a forced air heating system powered by a 75,000-150,000 BTU furnace. The exact number will depend on your climate.

The AFUE Rating
A high BTU capacity doesn’t always mean your forced air heating system can adequately heat your home. You need to consider the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which measures the energy efficiency of the heat source in converting the fuel source into heat over a specific year. This rating is important for comparisons.

A heating system with an AFUE rating of 80% converts 80% of the energy in the fuel source into heat. The remaining 20% is lost during combustion. If such a system has a capacity of 100,000 BTU, it means you effectively get 80,000 BTU in practice. That’s why both metrics are important for your purchasing decision. Opt for models with Energy Star certification to ensure you get a truly high-efficiency system.

You should keep in mind that the AFUE certification of a furnace does not account for the heat lost through your piping and ductwork. Another 35% of heat can be lost through these points, especially if ducts run through poorly insulated parts of your house.

Calculate the Load
The load calculation is perhaps the best way to find out if a forced air heating system will work well for your home. It takes into account a variety of factors, including your window type and location, foundation type, zip code, house size, and other such details that can affect a house’s heating needs.

There are some calculators online that you can use for this purpose, but to get the best result, you should consult with an HVAC expert. The load calculation ensures you get the best heating system possible for your home, and it saves you money by not purchasing a system that is oversized for your home.

With Warranty
The best forced air heating systems come with a warranty. This ensures that any defects or repairs are covered. Warranties can range between 5 and 10 years, depending on the manufacturer. Manufacturers with more expensive products typically offer longer warranties, but you can also purchase extended warranties from other manufacturers if you deem it necessary.

Additional Optional Considerations

These are features for a forced air heating system that are not mandatory but can enhance ease of use and provide more comfort in using the product. These include:

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