Radiant Heat in a Lake House

Home on Okauchee Lake

I visited Scott in his home on a cold winter's afternoon to take a look at his radiant heat system. Scott is a friend of the family, and I found out about his radiant heat lake house and had to invite myself over. This beautiful home has a very nice layout, and he showed me around the lower level where the radiant heat system was embedded into the concrete floor.

When you walk into the house, you are on the ground level. Right away, you can feel the warmth coming up from the floor. It felt wonderful to walk around on the carpeting and tile in the dead of winter barefoot. He explained the radiant heat system to me.

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When they built the home, they had a hydronic radiant heat system embedded in the concrete floor. This didn't add too much cost to the construction of the home, because, like almost every home, on the ground level or in the basement there is going to be a poured concrete floor. Before they poured the flooring, PEX radiant tubing is placed all over the entire floor plan. The tubing is always wrapped to fit the floor plan because you don't need radiant heat under cabinets or where a wall will be placed.

Once the tubing is in place, the concrete was poured on the floor. When the home is pretty much complete, you can place almost any type of floor covering over the concrete and the radiant heat will still be strong enough to heat the room. This home had carpeting and tile floor in the basement. The carpeting that was chosen was lower pile. The thicker the carpet, the harder it is for the radiant heat to radiate warmth to the entire room.

In the lower level, there is a thermostat for the radiant heat, and another separate thermostat for the forced air. The upper level is heated by a furnace and has forced air for the heat.

In a small maintenance room in the lower level is where the boiler and manifolds were stored for the radiant heating system.

Radiant Heat Boiler

It seems pretty amazing, but this little boiler heats the entire lower level. The boiler takes natural gas, and then heats water that passes through this system. Typically, a radiant heat system will heat the water to around 180 degrees and send it out into PEX radiant tubing system. When the water returns after its run through the concrete floor, the radiant heat from the water has been spread out. The water can then be heated again and cycled through the flooring. WIth most hydronic radiant systems, the user saves between 20% and 40% of there heating costs. The reason people most often don't use radiant heat is because they either don't understand it, or because it costs more to install compared to a furnace.

A view of Okauchee Lake before dawn.

Here is a picture of Okauchee Lake during the warmer months. During the winter, it freezes over, so my pictures of the lake were just a big field of snow. Instead I was able to use a picture taken by a photographer who has a much better eye for beauty than I do.

This view of Okauchee Lake is something Scott and his wife can enjoy comfortably from the warmth of their radiant heated home.

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- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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