Save the environment and save on your power bill by powering your off-grid home floor heating with renewable energy
Heating and cooling can be 20 to 50 per cent of energy use in Australian homes, depending on your climate zone. Amid rising energy prices and concerns for the planet, there are a growing number of homeowners choosing to live in an off-grid home.
Off-grid houses avoid reliance on traditional utility services. Instead, most use renewable energy sources, such as sun and water, to heat and cool a home.
Hydronic floor heating is one of the most energy-efficient forms of heating, as well as one of the most comfortable. Homeowners can power their system using electricity from a photovoltaic solar array, and hot water from a heat pump to provide efficient, renewable-energy heating in an off-grid home.
How does hydronic heating work?
Water is the primary medium of a hydronic heating system. Experts view water as an excellent conductor of heat. This is because it has a high heat capacity (more than 4,000 times that of air), and thermal conductivity (25 times that of air). This means it takes more energy to increase the temperature of water, which helps regulate the rate at which air changes temperature.
A hydronic heating system warms the water at its source. An off-grid home heats water in many ways using renewable energy sources, including:
•slow-combustion wood fire stove or heater (wetback);
•solar panels or evacuated tubes (installed on
•geothermal pumps (utilising heat from the soil);
•air-sourced heat pumps (extracting heat from the air).
Material considerations of heating an off-grid home
Hydronic floor heating systems use the thermal mass of concrete flooring to warm an interior space. Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat energy.
Like water, concrete requires a lot of heat energy to increase in temperature. This means that, once heated, it takes a long time to cool down. Thus, concrete flooring can store heat during the day and release it at night to help a home stay warm in winter. This heat can come from solar energy captured through windows or from hydronic floor heating.
By delivering heat where and when needed, hydronic heating systems improve thermal comfort and reduce energy use. Thermostats detect when a room temperature becomes lower than the programmed target temperature. Then, zoned hydronic systems enable unoccupied rooms to remain at lower temperatures. Floors that receive enough solar energy throughout the day can also remain without heating.
Combining hydronic floor heating with a heat pump and photovoltaic system
For an off-grid home, the most energy efficient heating system is combining hydronic floor heating with an air-to-water heat pump and photovoltaic array. The entire system uses renewable energy sources.
Heat pumps utilise electricity as their power input. They use more than 60 per cent less electricity than a traditional electric water heater. An off-grid home using a photovoltaic system to generate electricity will create greater savings and environmental benefits.
Combined with solar panels, a heat pump can operate like battery storage. By using built-in timers, it can be programmed to run during the warmest hours of the day to extract the most heat from the air. This heated water is then stored in the floor slab or a water tank for use as hydronic heating later in the day.
Comfort Heat’s hydronic floor heating for any off-grid home
Comfort Heat’s hydronic floor heating systems are reliable, effective and offer energy-efficient performance. A range of heating controls can automate and maximise the performance and efficiency of the heating system. These include thermostats, sensors and control stations – all products the company can supply.
Comfort Heat works alongside project architects and specifiers at the design phase. This ensures delivery of the most efficient and effective heating solution for the homeowner. Specifications are well-documented. All stakeholders in the project, including structural engineers and builders, are made aware of the impact of hydronic systems. This includes the installation process and technical requirements. Comfort Heat also provide comprehensive post-sales support and service, ensuring success and efficiency of the solution throughout its lifecycle.
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