Can Flooring Increase the Energy Efficiency in Your Home?

Is There Such a Thing as Energy-Efficient Flooring?

It’s certainly true that some types of flooring are inherently more energy efficient than others. Ultimately though, if true energy efficiency is your aim, then installing insulation or converting to a radiant floor heating system is the best way to go green and save money.

January 9, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford

Energy efficiency is pretty important to homeowners these days, thanks to the high cost of electricity and gas. And a question often asked is whether or not the type of home flooring you choose to install can make a home more energy efficient. If so, what are the most energy-efficient flooring options, and just how much can they reduce energy usage? Here are some answers.

radiant flooring

INSTALL RADIANT FLOOR HEATING

If you’re looking for the most energy efficient way of heating your home, from your flooring up, then the simple answer is to install radiant heat flooring. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer resource, Energy Saver, “It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses“. So, a better question to ask is what is the best flooring to use with radiant heat?

INSTALL APPROPRIATE INSULATED UNDERLAYMENT

If installing a radiant heating system is out of your budget or flat out impractical then consider installing insulated underlay. Some form of underlayment is recommended for most types of flooring, especially carpet and floating floors like laminate. Any underlay will add to the overall insulation of your home but there are a specific underlays with a strong R value that will increase the energy efficiency of your home. Clearly, installing this sort of underlay is only practical when installing new or replacement flooring.

MOST FLOORING HAS LITTLE INSULATION VALUE

You won’t get an increase in energy efficiency with vinyl flooring, stone or ceramic tile flooring. Tile will hold some heat, but in the summer, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

CARPET AND DENSE POLYURETHANE FOAM PADDING INCREASE INSULATION

Most carpet has an R-value of 1.0-1.5 with an average of about 1.3. Thick polyurethane foam padding has an R-value of about 1.5. So, if you combine these materials, the resulting R-value boost of 2.5-3.0 can make a significant difference.

In addition, carpet definitely feels warmer to the touch in the winter than tile, natural stone flooring and even hardwood flooring. You’ll feel warmer walking on it, or sitting on it, and it will hold heat in the room better during the winter.

WOOD BACKED WITH INSULATION ADDS INSULATION EFFICIENCY

Some engineered wood products are backed by a foam base that acts as a vapor barrier and adds insulation value. The wood and backing will combine for an R-value of up to 1.5. When you’re trying to reduce your energy use while keeping your home more comfortable throughout the winter, every little bit helps.

CONSIDER AREA RUGS FOR KEY LOCATIONS

If you’ve got ceramic tile flooring, natural stone flooring or vinyl flooring, think about adding area rugs to strategic places to make you feel warmer. Stand on one while doing dishes. Sit on one while watching TV. Rest your feet on one while relaxing in an easy chair. They won’t do a lot for the total insulation value of your home, but they can make you more comfortable all winter long.

HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESOURCES ONLINE:

  • Builder Online – Set of 10 ways you can make your home greener. From sealing the envelope to putting down thick carpeting, its all got some r-value!
  • TLC Channel – Shares several pages of tips on how to make your home greener. Everything is covered from sealing windows to using carpeting on floors.

Do you think carpet can increase home efficiency? Share your ideas and views below.

About the Author:

Jamie Sandford

Jamie Sandford, Owner and Editor of Home Flooring ProsJamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.

“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”

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