Heating a house in winter requires a lot of energy – this means paying for either electricity, gas or combustible materials to provide heat energy. If the energy requirement of the heating system is reduced then the costs will also be reduced. If the heating system could use renewable energy sources, then the environment will also benefit. With the access to solar electricity becoming more accessible for homeowners, the air to water heat pump and hydronic in slab heating is proving a sustainable choice.
In Slab Floor Heating:
Whether electric or hydronic, floor heating in a slab has proved an efficient way to provide heating in large houses. The slab stores the heat so the energy input is only to top up the heat lost from the slab to the rooms above. Electric in slab heating is able to utilise off peak tariff electricity rates and hydronic in slab heating is able to utilise the air to water heat pumps which cut the electricity usage to a fourth. With the use of floor sensing room thermostats, the floor heating system can effectively regulate the temperature of the floor and the time the floor heating operates to top up. Managing the energy usage for heating is a huge step in the right direction in minimising the carbon footprint of a building. It is also practical, achievable and saves on the running cost of a house. Improvements can still be made to become more sustainable.
Sustainable Floor Heating Options:
The challenge is now to make the heating of a home more sustainable so there is less dependence on the utilities of gas and electricity. Solar systems have been installed on Australian houses for many years, but there have been few systems available to utilise the energy created and convert it to offset major energy loads of houses when solar is not being collected. With solar PV systems there has always been the challenge of storing the electricity for later use. Using solar PV systems to generate an alternative energy – such as heat – which can be stored, is another step towards a smaller footprint.
Utilising the improved technology of inverter air to water heat pumps with the generation of solar PV electricity to put heat into water and heat a slab with hydronic floor heating will store the heat in the slab for later use. If the slab is well insulated and the house designed to retain the heat, this system will keep a house warm during winter, day and night, while utilising the solar electricity generated between 10am and 2pm each day. If well designed, the heat stored in the slab will also maintain the heating even during odd days of little or no solar electricity generation.
Hydronic Floor heating systems provide the opportunity to design efficiency into a home for the winter with an opportunity for some cooling capacity in summer. The reverse cycle air to water heat pump providing heated water into a cement slab and powered by solar PV is a way to become more independent from the traditional energy sources and to become less exposed to price rises for basic utilities while minimising the environmental footprint of a new building.