Forced Air Heating vs Radiant Heat

Heating a home seems like an easy thing to wrap your head around, but when comparing forced air heating to radiant heat, you will see it is not so cut and dry. While both of these types of systems heat the home, this is where the similarities begin and end. Read on to learn more about forced air and radiant heating so you can decide which type is best for your needs.

Heat Consistency

The main difference between a forced air heating system and radiant heat is the consistency of the heat. In a home that uses forced air heating, you will notice that the heat is not consistent. The hot air circulates throughout the home, and the temperatures vary greatly. The air can be hotter near the floor before it circulates to the top of the home, when the bottom will be cooler.

Radiant heat, on the other hand, will create a constant supply of heat that is the same temperature.

Comfort Level

Radiant heat creates a stable and consistent temperature in the entire home. If you have a door closed and you use a forced air heating system you will notice the room will be hotter than the other rooms. This is not the case with radiant heat. Radiant heat eliminates drafts and extreme changes in temperatures that can cause someone to get sick. Another benefit of radiant heating is that it can improve the circulation of the body because your feet will be warm. This is especially beneficial to those who are living with diabetes.

Furniture Placement

Living in a home that utilizes forced air heating you will always be told to look out for vents when moving furniture or putting up drapes. You do not want to have a couch sitting on top of a vent because it will make the forced air heating system become completely useless. You do not have this problem in a home that uses radiant heat.

Energy Savings

In a forced air heating system, you will have tremendous heat loss—and even more so if your home is poorly insulated. This heat loss will cause your heating and cooling bills to be higher. There is no waste of heat in a home that uses radiant heat, even if the insulation is not adequate.


When you turn the heat on in your home, you expect to get warm quickly. This is not the case with a forced air heating system. Once you crank up the heat, the forced air heating system will begin blowing the hot air at maximum levels until the correct temperature is reached. Radiant heating systems will heat quickly and steadily to prevent heat loss while maintaining comfort.

Installation and Cost

Forced air heating systems are cheaper than radiant heat systems as they are more of the standard. Duct work is run through the home, and vents, registers and controls are placed where you need heat. Radiant heat systems are installed as the sub-floor with tubes that carry hot water.