Heated Floors vs Radiators – Which is More Efficient?

heated floors vs radiators

Heated floors vs Radiators has become the modern-day heavyweight championship bout of home renovations and property development. 

And even though radiators, the reigning champion, have long held the belt, heated floors are poised to dethrone the incumbent and once this happens, chances are there will be no going back.

Heated floors are more efficient than radiators. Just as electric cars are more efficient than gas-fulled automobiles. That’s what modern technology does, it improves upon the existing technology by making it more efficient, and usually cheaper and more compact.

Many people approach heated floors with a sense of caution, and that’s not for fear of burning their feet. Radiators have been all they have known their entire lives.

Whilst this is perfectly understandable, we are here to demystify these modern heating systems.

So, for a deeper dive into the heated floors vs radiators contest, please read on.

Key Takeaways

When compared to traditional convection heating systems with radiators, heated floors are:

  • More efficient
  • More eco-friendly
  • Cheaper to run
  • Better at heating the room
  • Better at keeping the room warmer for longer
  • Better for people that suffer from allergies, asthma, or other bronchial conditions

Now is the time the build-up ends and the main event begins. 


Round 1 – Heated Floors vs Radiators – Installation

Round 1 clearly goes to the champ who begins his title defence by landing two heavy blows in the first.

When it comes to installation, radiators have a clear advantage because replacing existing radiators is a much simpler process. You simply swap the out the old ones with the new radiators which can take a matter of minutes. There are some beautiful radiators around too these days, making them a potential style choice.

Heated floors, by contrast, involve placing radiant heating elements under the entire floor, which obviously entails more time and a lot more effort. 

That being said, radiant floor heating takes surprisingly little time to install, in most cases taking no longer than a few hours.

Round 2 – Heated Floors vs Radiators – Costs

Round 2 ends much more evenly

The champ again starts strongly by having much lower installation and up-front purchase costs, but radiant heated floors make a spirited comeback through cost savings on energy bills and finishes the round with a significant return on investment (ROI) that radiators can’t match.

Round 3 – Heated Floors vs Radiators – Efficiency

Round 3 sees the challenger step up his game significantly, outclassing radiators by every efficiency measure

Even the most efficient traditional radiators can’t compete with radiant heating systems because they work by heating the air, which is a process that is always going to suffer from a significant loss of heat.

Radiant Floor heating efficiency is usually more than 25% greater than that of traditional, convection heating systems and 40% more efficient than using a heat pump. 

  • They use less energy to heat the room 
  • They don’t lose any heat to the atmospheric conditions
  • They keep rooms warmer for longer because they are heating every surface and object in the room, rather than the air in the room

Round 4 – Heated Floors vs Radiators – Design and Control

Round 4 continues in much the same vein as round 3 with heated floors coming out on top once again.


Radiators take up space in the room and often limit the potential design and use of the room as a result. Even the sleekest, most contemporary radiators still take up unnecessary space and more often than not diminish the look and aesthetic of a room rather than enhance it.

Heated floors do no such thing. They afford more space in every room where they are installed and provide you with a totally invisible heat source. 


Most heating systems with radiators only have one thermostat to control the temperature in the home and this means an all-or-nothing approach which can be costly and inefficient.

Heated floors, on the other hand, control the heat in your home on a room-by-room (zone by zone) basis. 

This affords you much greater control – only heating the rooms you need to at a given time, rather than the entire house. Most of these systems also come with smart controls and wifi functionality meaning you can adjust the settings at any time, and from any place.

Round 5 – Heated Floors vs Radiators – Environmental Impact

Round 5 sees the challenger land a number of heavy blows on the champion who looks rocked and weak in the legs at the bell.

The times are changing and the world is headed in a new direction. A recognition that the world can’t continue to rely on fossil fuels for its energy has ushered in the era of green tech and eco-friendly innovation. 

Heated floors are uniquely placed (get it?) to help a home achieve 100% net zero status through utilizing radiant heat technology and their compatibility with alternative energy systems including solar, wind, and hydro.

Round 6… no… wait a moment. The referee is inspecting the champ in his corner…

… and that’s it! The ref has stopped the fight!! The champion does not look happy about it but it seems clear that he was in no shape to continue

Heated Floors wins by way of technical knockout (TKO).


Is Radiator Heat Expensive?

This depends. Compared to central heating that uses a furnace radiator heat is cheaper. When compared to radiant heating systems, it looks pretty darn pricey!

Is Radiator Heat Efficient?

Compared to radiant heated floors, no. Radiator heat does not compare favorably to the efficiency of heated floors.

What are the Disadvantages of Foil Behind Radiators?

Foil behind radiators makes very little difference to energy consumption or cost savings. It can be difficult to install, can pose a potential fire risk if not installed correctly, and can also suffer from a build-up of condensation that will cause dampness in the wall and could potentially lead to mold building up. 


Well, there we have it. The King is dead… long live the King!

Actually, that’s not quite the case. But as we have seen Heated Floors make a compelling case for anyone that is looking to update their home or replace their existing heating system through their efficiency, cost savings, and being more eco-friendly.


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