25 Nov 2009, Posted by Shawn in Green,Live Work,Sustainability, 8 Comments, Short-URL:http://portlandbuilt.com/si9jl
Portland winters are relatively mild, but you still need a reliable heat source. Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue to blog on the development of our very cool (or warm) radiant heating system.
For the Live/Work project we’re installing radiant hydronic heating – it’s a great way to provide comfort at a reasonable cost. The idea is quite simple – PEX “circuits” snake through the core of the slab and under the floor; hot water from a boiler (or water heater) is then pumped through the system. The end result is an evenly heated room with absolutely zero ducting. By choosing radiant heat, we’ve eliminated about a million issues associated with traditional HVAC (like: where to locate the big furnace; duct cleaning, the difficulty of insulating wall cavities with ducting; noise; dust; etc., etc.)
The guts of the system – Pex tubing - has a lot of advantages: It’s relatively cheap, durable, and can be installed by semi-skilled laborers. In about a day, we were able to place all of the tubing for the first-floor slab.
Someday we hope to augment the system with solar hot water heating or PV-powered direct-fire water heaters. Until then, we’ll be using natural gas to run the system. It was a tough debate between gas and electicity, but in the end, the cost differential was just too high. Natural gas was cheaper and the utility was willing to run the lines at almost no expense to us.