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How well do heated floors work?
An update on mine.

This whole kitchen renovation crap started almost a year ago when I decided to install a new floor in my kitchen. Just a floor. Nothing else. I was going to rip up my old ceramic floor and lay down some professional grade vinyl tile. 2 week job. Tops.

Then heated floors occurred to me. My house is a succession of add-ons starting with the original 1840 house, then the 1910 addition, then the 1940s addition, and finally the 1990s addition. Anything built past 1840 is crap.

The kitchen appears to have been built without any insulating properties at all. So while the older front of the house is always a comfortable temperature in the winter the kitchen is always 15 degrees below comfortable.

Over the years I’ve insulated the ceiling and some of the walls but nothing could be done about the floor. There’s no basement underneath the room and I had ceramic tiles.

NOW was my chance to do something about it.

I could install heated floors. HEATED FLOORS!

And  I did.  I chose Warmly Yours.  So began the continually escalating kitchen renovation.

The thing that made my heated floors so anti-climactic was the fact that I finished installing them in May, the exact time around here that things start to warm up.

So after installing them and posting about them, I could never really talk about how well they worked.

Enter the winter of the Polar Vortex. There couldn’t have been a more wintery winter to test these floors out.

The thing I like most about these heated floors is the fact that you can program them like you would your furnace. So they can be warm and toasty throughout the day and less warm while you’re in bed. In my case I have the kitchen floors go off at night, but keep the bathroom on because … well … everyone wants a nice warm floor at 4 in the morning when they have to get up to pee.

The thing that surprised me most, that I wasn’t expecting, was the fact that heated floors don’t only heat the floors, they heat the entire room. The heat radiates out and brings the entire temperature of the room up by several degrees.

I did an experiment in my bathroom to prove the point.  I put a thermometer to take the ambient temperature with the floors ON and then again took it with the floors OFF to see how big an effect having the floors on has on the temperature of the room.

Here are the results.

temps

 

Total cost of  Warmly Yours flooring for a small bathroom: $300

Cost to operate them:  For me it would be $40 a month to run the kitchen and bathroom 24 hours a day.  That’s $240 to run them from October – March if I never turn them off.   Obviously this would be cheaper if you only do them in your bathroom.  Warmly Yours has a handy calculator you can use to see how much it would cost you to run the floors.

Temperature increase of entire room during extreme Polar Vortex: 6 degrees fahrenheit, 4 degrees celsius.
Would I do it again? Recommend it? Tell others to rip up their floors so they can put these babies down? Yes. Yes I would. And do on a regular basis.


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64 Comments | Filed Under: Kitchen, Workshop |

64 Responses to How well do heated floors work?
An update on mine.

  1. kate-v says:

    Warming the bathroom not only helps when it’s 4 AM and I want to go pee, but also when it’s time to get up and get ready to leave and the bathroom is actually comfortable. Also, it seems to me there is less steam sticking to the mirrors, walls and my glasses. — or something — things just don’t get as steamed up when the room is already warm.

    • Hi! Karen reached out to me at WarmlyYours to help answer some of the questions you may have about floor heating. Kate-v, you are correct. Having radiant floor heating in your bathroom can help dry out the bathroom and reduce humidity. If humidity is still a problem, you might also consider installing a towel warmer in your bathroom. Not only do they make your towels warm and cozy when you step out of the shower, the towel warmers help dry out damp towels and add heat to the bathroom, removing additional humidity. Mirror defoggers are also an option you can explore.

  2. Call Me Patty says:

    We did a complete renovation on our two bathrooms about 10 yrs ago. With installing tile floors I decided that we needed heated floors. My husband wasn’t too keen on the extra cost and grumbled about it the whole time they were being installed. I knew I hit a home run right outta the park the first cold snap we had and I turned the heat on, when I heard a shout from the bathroom “I LOVE MY HEATED FLOOR!” If I ever had the privilege to build from scratch, my whole house would have heated floors. It’s SO worth the extra cost to have the comfort of warm tootsies.

    • Karen says:

      And they really aren’t much to run! I just can’t say enough about them. They’re great, not that expensive for what you get out of them, and don’t cost a lot to operate. I sound like a commercial. But I don’t care. They really are great, lol.~ karen

      • Linda S. in NE says:

        I have to agree with you, Karen. I was lucky enough to be dog-sitting in a home that had heated, tiled bathroom floors. Both the pup and I just wanted to take naps all afternoon long on those heated floors. They are wonderful!! It reminds me of automobiles with heated seats and heated steering wheels,….it seems like such a silly thing, and such an extravagance, until you experience it. Then you will never want to be without it again!

        • Linda S., it’s not silly at all. You’d be surprised how often we hear that pets and homeowners just love to lie on the floors.

        • judy says:

          Oh Boy We bought the best car we have ever owned in our seventies because at our age we don’t want to deal with-no car, towing charges, mechanics charges, parts` charges-yuck–y! I thought the heated seats were over kill and an unnecessary extravagance but they came with the car so ok- until we noticed that while it took the usual time for the car to heat up-usually when you’re pulling up to your destination-the seats were toasty within minutes! Hot diggety Dog-what a fantastic invention-love em.

          • Karen says:

            Oh! Heated seats are the BEST!!! The fella used to own a Cadillac that also had air conditioned seats! Also very VERY nice. ~ karen!

  3. Dan says:

    >> things just don’t get as steamed up when the room is already warm.

    So, remind me again why you’d want heated floors then? ;-)

  4. Marti says:

    So how does this compare with the cost of running a space heater to bring up the temperature, similarly? I realize that the temperature isn’t going to warm as perfectly with a space heater as with the floor, because obviously, heating the floor is wall to wall coverage, where as the space heater is sporadic, area oriented and… yeah… heats only portions of the space and leaves you subject to draft.

    But is there a break-down on the bucks comparison?

    • Karen says:

      I looked into it a little bit and the heated floors are more economical. For one thing because there’s something for the heat to hold onto. (the floors) Radiant heating is always more effecient and effective than just blowing hot air around. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. ~ karen

      • Marti says:

        No, I don’t think there is a joke there. I wasn’t joking… I was interested. I think your heated floors look great. I grew up in a house that was heated by coils in the ceiling, which considering heat RISES, makes a lot less sense than what you’re done.

        Now if you could just get that bigger, BIGGER, BIGGEST STOVE…

        • Karen says:

          Oh! I didn’t mean there was a joke in your question, I meant there was the opportunity for a joke in my reply with the “blowing hot air around”. I just couldn’t be bothered to flesh it out. :) ~ k!

          • Kim says:

            Plus space heaters are dangerous to leave unattended and heated floors feel absolutely divine on one’s tootsies. Heated floors win hands down! Love my heated floors in my bathrooms. LOVE!

      • Radiant floor heating provides economical, even heating to the entire room. It’s also much safer than a space heater. It does not pose a fire hazard, and you won’t burn yourself touching the heated floor, so it’s safe for children and pets to be around.

    • Tim says:

      Space heaters? I wouldn’t use one in the bathroom due to the humidity even if you only use it outside of shower hours, the room’s humidity can still cause issues. I know there are humid enviroment types of heaters but, I would think most of us just buys the cheap ones from the big box stores.

  5. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That is a nice difference in temps there Karen..I’d say it was well worth it!

  6. Amie Mason says:

    Out of curiosity – are roof mounted solar panels a big thing over there? Everyone needs to run air conditioning here (as the whole Country is now a furnace; 36c today), and the cost associated are astronomical. Everyone getting solar panels on their roofs to claim rebates from the power companies. But we do have a lot of sun – so maybe is just an Aussie thing….

    • Karen says:

      Oh God no, it’s not only Australia. There are solar panels all over in Canada. The government will install them on your roof, and you then create the power for your own house plus sell any extra power back to the government. You can also just buy panels yourself and install them. ~ k!

  7. Jill says:

    Thanks so much for the update, Karen! Now to figure out how to work those floors into our bathroom remodel budget. Since it’s currently 3 deg F outside, heated floors sound like a necessity! :)

  8. Lissy says:

    Our brick house was built in the 50′s by a guy that owned his own electrical contracting company. We have radiant heat in the cement floors through copper piping (every 8″) that runs the length of the house. Warm water is continually circulated and heated by a boiler system. It is fabulous!! We live in Michigan and it is a wonderful feeling to walk around barefoot on warm floors while everything is covered in ice and snow outside the window. (Since heat rises, it is a beautiful thing to have that constant heat in the floors.)

  9. nancy w says:

    Hi Karen! I am compelled to come out of lurking once again to say THANK YOU! We will be renovating our bathroom as soon as I can find some tile that I both like and can fit into the budget…and the floor will be heated thanks to your intrepid adventures.

    - Nancy W

  10. Natika says:

    I love all forms of radiant heating. I think it’s way more efficient than hot air. If I ever have the chance to build my own house or substantially fix one, it’s definitely the way I’d go.

  11. Tigersmom says:

    Glad to know you’re able to have warm tootsies, especially since you’re at the point of calling the kitchen renovation “crap.”

    You’re going to love it when it’s done and it will be worth it even though it sucks hard now.

    I can’t believe I never noticed how cool your shower pipes are in that black and white claw footed tub. Very chic!

  12. Tricia Rose says:

    One of the best things about a heated floor is that the heat source is invisible (apart from the sheer comfort). I wish light sources could be invisible too. HATE light fittings.

  13. Ima LeaveThisHere says:

    Here in Canada we call that kind of system “in-floor heat.” It is very much designed and expected to help warm the room in general, not just to be warm underfoot. We are planning to build a house with all in-floor heat (water tubing under the flooring) that is fuelled by a wood-fired hot water boiler (with a heat-dump of tubing that runs out under the detached garage to warm it for hubby’s garage hobbies). We’ll also have some ductless splits as a shoulder season heat backup /air conditioning.

    In our current home, we only have it in the TV room, which shares a concrete slab floor with the attached garage. That room is somewhat off of the main footprint of the house, with two outside walls and one barely heated wall shared with the attached garage. The in-floor heat makes a terrific difference to the comfort of that floor and the room in general. It is fuelled by a separate, cabin-sized electric water heater (in the garage) that has been dialled down to be somewhat cooler than normal household hot water supply. We use it sparingly to keep the electric bill down, since our primary home heat is a combination wood furnace/heat pump combo.

    Excuse the long comment….Efficient heating is serious frickin’ business here!

    • Karen says:

      Hi – I actually live in Canada. I’ve lived here my whole life as a matter of fact, but I’ve never heard it referred to as “in-floor heat”, lol. Could be a provincial thing. ~ karen!

      • Julie says:

        Hey…I’m in New Brunswick and we have “in floor” heating…only our boiler operates on natural gas…but have you heard how Enbridge is gouging us?? Or gas cost has increased 140% in the last year…on top of that they have super high “delivery fees” as well (yeah… I know it’s piped in, not trucked in lol)…but I digress…the floors are cozy and warm at least….

  14. Ruth says:

    I’m just going to sit here and smile… ;-D

  15. Mary R says:

    Karen, thank you so much for this post! I have been thinking about heated floors for years (trying to convince my husband for years), but have only done a half-assed job researching them. Your post is informative, to the point, and even answers some questions I didn’t think of – we are convinced, for our main level of our home. I have a bathroom in the basement that is ready for tiling and would love to have them heated, I just don’t know anyone who has installed in-floor heating in the basement. You did say that your kitchen was not built over a basement, so I am wondering if your post applies to my intended location.

    • Mary R., yes, you can install floor heating in a basement. When doing so, you will need to install an insulating underlayment (we use a synthetic cork underlayment called CeraZorb) to prevent the heat generated from sinking into the concrete, allowing more of it to radiate upward into the room. A lot of customers like to install floor heating as a way to add targeted heating to basement rooms that tend to be colder even when the primary heating system is keeping the rest of the house comfortable.

  16. Reg says:

    With this years Polar Vortex winter that refuses to ease up, I have heated floor envy. For the bathroom specifically. One day, one day in the future when I can afford to remodel the bathroom it WILL have heated floors.

  17. jainegayer says:

    If I ever renovate, heated floors it will be!
    I hate a cold bathroom and kitchen. I use space heaters when it gets really cold. I could have installed heated floors all over the house with what I’ve wasted on space heaters.
    Thank you, Karen for the info.

  18. Amy in StL says:

    When you find something that works so well it makes your life better; its hard not to tell everyone you meet! My thing is Yaktrax. Since I started using them on my shoes I haven’t fallen once, even though I’m out on the ice and snow a lot in winter. I can wear them inside without damaging the floors or slipping (except on honed granite). Everytime I’m wearing them I point them out to folks and they think they’re cool, but I wonder how many of them remember the name. Maybe I should wear a scarf that says Yaktrax so people remember?

    • Karen says:

      Oh! Oh! I think I saw those for the first time yesterday on a neighbour. Are they sort of coils that go over your shoes? They looked great! And it’s been a large sheet of ice for about 2 months here so they’d really be useful. I think she got them at Lee Valley. ~ karen!

  19. Pixieskulls says:

    Man, if I owned my house this spoils be installed before we even moved in. my house is a ww2 pud and not insulated at all… Floors are freezing all the time. We go through slippers like we do chocolate. Nice job!

  20. Karin says:

    Hi Karen,

    Curious; do you have forced air or radiators for the rest of your house? And do you think the heated floors have any impact on their usage?

    ~Karin

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karin – I have forced air and I’m sure installing heating floors has allowed me to use the furnace less. For one thing, when I didn’t have the heated floors I was constantly turning up the heat in the house in the hopes that it would somehow heat the kitchen. But it never did. I never have to turn the furnace up now. ~ karen!

      • Karen is right. One of the advantages of installing floor heating (even only in a few rooms in the house) is that it does heat the room and not just the floor. As Karen demonstrated in her experiment, floor heating will raise the room temperature. The advantage of this (besides just feeling more comfortable) is that it allows you to set the thermostat for your primary heating source at a lower setting. Heating and cooling costs make up the biggest energy expenses in the home, so lowering your thermostat a few degrees can add up to significant cost savings.

  21. Feral Turtle says:

    I am glad you are keeping warm!! Floor heat is the best. I bet your chickens would love a circuit in their floor too. lol

  22. Olga says:

    The anticipation to see finished kitchen is killing me. Hurry up already! lol

  23. Tanya H. says:

    Hope you had help lifting that tub!

    • Karen says:

      I had help carrying it out to pour the concrete, but when it came time to lay the tiles I didn’t have help to lift it. So … I used a car jack to raise it just enough to be able to slip tiles under it. ~ karen!

  24. Kathy Hartzell says:

    Yaktrax gal inspires me to give a shout out to hot water recirculating systems. I hated for years that my husband would guilt me out of waiting for the hot water to arrive to wash off the day’s grime from my face. Sometimes he would thoughtfully heat a washcloth in the microwave, or water on the woodstove. But a recent reno at the cabin got me thinking about how much water was wasted waiting for hot (even with our on-demand hot system!!) so I put in the EASIEST off the plumbing supply house shelf recirc system and no more water wasted and adding to the septic!!! I have the “call button” both in the master bath and one in the kitchen.

    It installs under a sink strategic to your houses’s plumbing and simply hard wires in to elec that you drop down from the existing bath outlet circuit and presto!!! The wait is dependent on size of the runs to heat the water. In my 1800 sf place it is 1.45 minutes. And minuscule energy used during the under two minutes. Even hubby washes his face now….at the cabin….we have to deal with the town house next!!

  25. Debbie says:

    It sounds just wonderful. I have only been in one home that has had this kind of heat and it was so nice I wanted to sit on the floor. It gave the same nice feel that fire gives.

  26. Janelle says:

    Hi, Karen! We are about to renovate a bathroom and we have a bunch of tiles left over from our front hall that I was thinking of putting in there. Trouble is, they are slate and SO COLD. And no, I don’t have the right to complain about cold slate tile floors as I sit in above-zero Vancouver Island temperatures, but I am anyway. My question is whether slate is too thick to be ‘warmed’ by this brilliant system. I had heated floors under ceramic tile in my last house, but slate is a bit thicker and, well…colder. Intuitively it seems that the heat wouldn’t have enough oomph to make slate tiles warm in winter.

  27. Janelle says:

    Okay, scratch that – I decided to be (momentarily) less lazy and google it myself :) Slate tile it would seem, is wonderfully conductive and great for use with heated floor systems.

    • I was wondering the same sort of thing…We have marble floors in our bathroom which I love but they are FREEZING in the winter (bathroom in built over a non heated garage) even though we’re in Texas. Good to know for next reno or house build.

  28. KJ says:

    Good to hear an update. You may have already mentioned this: how much does it raise the level of the floor when “retrofitting” it?

    P.S. Have you seen this automated chicken coop door (with no electricity or battery)? Ingenious! http://hanburyhouse.com/no-battery-no-electricity-automatic-coop-door/

    • KJ, the heating elements in an electric floor heating system (for WarmlyYours products) are only 1/8″ thick, so the impact on floor height is minimal. If you have been looking around at other options, you will see that hydronic floor heating systems do raise the floors significantly to accommodate the equipment installed.

  29. Jana says:

    Serendipity!

    It’s moments like this that make me warm & fuzzy inside as me and my man just purchased a 1950′s Casa with original wood floors in some areas, tile in others and one small patch of carpet that he cannot wait to rip up and lay new floors down into….

    However…. I’ve always coveted a home that had zero carpeting which was a selling point when we bought this one less than 1 month ago… Now having had lived in it for about 3.5 weeks the cold is killing me… Ha! some things you just have to experience to know as I refuse to take off my fur lined rubber boots alternating between them and my knee high Uggs…… touche!

    The topic of ‘heated flooring’ has come up only I haven’t known where to begin that search pre-demolition of the tile and lone carpeted room; until today and your post….

    You rock! :)

  30. Barbie says:

    I SO wanted the heated floors when we built our house! It would have cost a fortune for us to do it! Also the hubs was worried about the wood floors if it ever sprang a leak. (He worries about stuff like that) When we build again…and we will….a MUCH smaller house it WILL have heated floors!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbie! Heated floors are very thin electrical wire now, as opposed to the other type that runs hot water. So … no leaks! ~ karen

  31. Cindy@designlove says:

    I agree totally with you Karen! We too have a 130 yr old home, and it is cold. We put in heated floors last yr and the room is so much warmer. Makes a huge difference. We plan to do it again this spring in upstairs bathroom reno! Can’t wait!!!

    Cindy

  32. Debbie says:

    I grew up with heated flagstone floors in our hallway – it came with the house when we bought it. What a heavenly feeling on little bare feet.

    Amazingly, when hubby and I bought our first single home (after the apartment and after the duplex), it had a heated lower floor in the “basement”, which wasn’t really a basement. The lower level was below and above ground. There was carpet on it, so it warmed the carpet (don’t ask, it came that way – green and yellow shag). What was really fun was when that level flooded (the melting snow was too much for the French drains and the already soaked ground) and the rug became warm and squishy. Hubby wasn’t home and our landscaper/babysitter/very good friend came over, though all hubby heard when on the phone with me was, “Where are his clothes?” Friend was very wet and needed a change of clothes. It took a bit of explaining! It is now almost twenty years later and we are all still good friends. Our home now does not have heated floors. I’m glad you have them and can enjoy!

  33. Sally says:

    My house is very much like yours age-wise. The original bit is the front at 1860 then additions in 1910, 1940 and 1990. Anything past 1860 is crap. Especially the 1990 sun room where, after replacing all the drafty windows and doors a few years ago, we installed a heated floor this past fall. Fantabulous. Best thing we’ve ever done. Big squares of warm terra cotta under our bare toes, while we watch the polar vortex rage around us. Now we are renovating our 1940 bathroom (last decorated some time in the 50′s). And guess what? Another heated floor. You bet. With the gas fire in the living room the furnace rarely comes on.
    Added bonus: Dog loves it.

    • Karen says:

      It really is amazing how well the floors work to heat a whole room. I didn’t think there was anything that could heat my stupid cold kitchen. ~ karen!

  34. Karen, if your readers have additional questions about floor heating, they can find out more at WarmlyYours.com, and our customer service team would be happy to help them at (800) 875-5285.

  35. Suzan says:

    My house was built about 115 years ago. The kitchen was added in the 50s (or so I have been told) and then was totally renovated just before I bought the house several years ago. There is no basement under the kitchen and it is the most RIDICULOUSLY cold room. (I heard that someone sold the house once just because they could not get the kitchen warm. Sadly, I heard this long after I purchased the house.) Right now I have a stand alone oil filled radiator turned on constantly since November and added a small Pelonis ceramic heater to just blow warm air over the floors to keep my feet from freezing. I am thinking heating the floors may be the only solution, however, the thought of ripping out all the kitchen cabinets is daunting at best.

    • Karen says:

      There’s no need to rip out the cabinets to lay the floor though. I didn’t. (until a few months later when I decided to redo my entire kitchen) You just need to rip up the floor. ~ karen!

  36. I gave up on the polar vortex winter this week and sent a signed contract to a firm to have closed-cell foam put on the bottom of the floorboards. Notice that I said “floorboards,” because there are no sub-floors in this neighborhood. Winter comes and the frigid crawl-space air blows through the floors. Even with the entries covered in R-13 foam board, there is a breeze because it blows through the little spaces between the concrete perimeter and the floor-plate. What I don’t understand is how all these people lived here with the “ice rink effect” since the 20′s. Lot’s of rugs I suppose.

  37. Henna B says:

    We ended up getting this electric towel warmer: http://www.towelwarmersonline. The hydronic wasn’t going to work with our plumbing situation and the electric works great so it doesn’t matter anyways.

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