Home Heating, Insulation & Energy Efficiency Questions
with replies by Thomas J. Elpel
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Which heating method should we choose?
I have a question about heating. In building my home I have been considering the following options to heat it.
1) Using radiant slab heating
2) Using a 72,000 BTU/Hr Fuel Oil Furnace (have already)
3) Using a Warm Morning Wood Stove (also have this already).
The main concern my wife has with the radiant slab is the fact that we cannot have carpeting in the house. The reason I say this is that everything I read about this wonderful heating device requires a "bare floor" of some type. My wife likes to have carpeting if possible.
I have the Fuel oil furnace and the wood stove already and they would heat the home just fine I believe. I can use both if I needed to. I don't have any real house plans drawn up yet, so anything is possible. I am just wondering how the floor would feel and if the carpeting is worth the trade off.
I also hope to have the south side of the house set up to use solar heating if possible. I am sure that this would also mandate the use of no carpeting on the floor as well. So much to consider and plan on.
Thank you for your time.
The most important part is to make sure the rest of the house is very well insulated. We have an uninsulated slab with masonry tiles in our house (and no radiant tubing). The floor used to be very cold, until we better insulated other parts of the house. Now the floor is still mildly cool, but not bothersome at all. It is kind of like putting a hat on your head to warm your feet. Emphasize the insulation aspect everywhere else, and the floor will take care of itself.
Keep in mind that you wouldn't want carpet in the kitchen and dining areas anyway, so you might install masonry floors there and place these rooms in the house where they would get optimal solar exposure.
As for a heat source, would it be possible to install both the wood stove and the oil furnace? The cost should be low, since you have them both already. If you have access to cheap firewood, then it would be nice to use the stove. But it would also be handy to have the oil furnace for the various occasions when you would not be able to use the woodstove, such as when you are away on vacation, don't have time to get wood, or want to sell the house. You might also need the oil furnace for insurance purposes. Just be sure to install both of them in such a way that they could be replaced with later models if and when the need arises. You might be also be able to install some kind of ducting under the floor for the furnace.
Thomas J. Elpel