Homeowners who have full or partial basements that can be transformed into living space are essentially sitting on a goldmine. Realtor surveys show that finishing a basement ranks just behind kitchen and bathroom renovations in maximizing the return on the homeowner’s investment. The payback sometimes exceeding the remodeling expenditure what’s more, expanding the living space into the basement is often much more feasible than adding another room or floor onto an existing home.
Heating your home with a forced-air furnace isn’t your only option when you have concrete floors. You can save energy and create a healthier, more comfortable living environment by having the floor itself distribute the heat—from the ground up—via a radiant in-floor heating system. The science behind radiant floor heating is quite simple: Tubes that circulate hot water or electrical heating elements are installed in the concrete slab when it’s poured, turning the thermal mass of the concrete into an inconspicuous radiator of warm, even heat. Among the many benefits: You’re feet are always toasty warm, the temperature is consistent and easy to control, you won’t feel the drafts or hear the noise of blowing air, and no dust or allergens get circulated within your home through air vents. Best of all, you’ll typically pay lower utility costs than with a forced-air system, because concrete floor radiant heating consumes less energy to achieve the same level of comfort A heated floor normally “feels” neutral. Its surface temperature is usually less than our body temperature, although the overall sensation is one of comfort. On very cold days when the floor is called on for maximum output will it actually feels warm. Radiant floor temperatures are far more pleasant than being buffeted by hot-then-cool breezes, which are often associated with forced air furnaces.