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Can Radiant Floor Heat Mats Replace a Furnace?

Key Takeaways

  • Radiant floor heat mats can replace a furnace as the sole provider of heat throughout an entire home if the property is sufficiently insulated.
  • Underfloor heat mats are more energy-efficient than furnaces and offer better control in heating your home through their zoned heating capabilities.
  • Radiant heat mats are between 30% and 60% more efficient than alternative underfloor heating systems like line radiant cable/mat systems and traditional hydronic radiant systems.

The transition to heating systems powered by renewable energy is underway and gathering pace. Now is a great time to consider radiant underfloor heat mats as your next primary home heating system.

Can radiant floor heat mats replace a furnace?

radiant floor heat mat vs. furnace

Yes, radiant floor heat mats can replace the furnace as the primary heating source for a home. 

Although they were once seen purely as a supplementary heating solution, advances in technology have enabled radiant heat mats like STEP HEAT to be capable of heating entire homes at any time of year so long as your home is sufficiently insulated.  

Underfloor heat mats also come with a number of additional benefits when compared to furnaces. 

  • Heat mats produce zero emissions making them much better for the environment. 
  • They operate silently, unlike furnaces which can often be very noisy, particularly in smaller homes. 
  • Radiant heating systems are compatible with renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and geothermal heat pumps. 

Another major benefit of radiant floor heat mats is that they require zero maintenance and no annual service (unlike furnaces, boilers, or other underfloor in-floor heating solutions like hydronic systems).

Overview of Radiant Floor Heat Mats

Radiant floor heat mats consist of a network of electrically powered heating elements that are installed beneath the floor surface. 

These elements generate infrared heat that is transferred through the floor, which then radiates upward, providing warmth equally throughout the entire room.

Comparing Radiant Floor Heat Mats to Furnaces

Heat Distribution

Radiant floor heat mats offer a unique advantage in heat distribution when compared to furnaces because you are effectively turning the entire floor into one giant heat source. 

As the heat radiates from the floor, it warms objects and people in the room directly, creating a uniform temperature throughout the entire space. 

heat distribution

Furnaces, on the other hand, distribute heat through forced-air systems, which can result in uneven temperature distribution and drafts.

Energy Efficiency

Radiant floor heat mats are much more energy-efficient than furnaces. In fact, they have have an energy efficiency rating of 100% because no heat is lost to the air in the room during the process of heat transfer.

The heat generated by radiant mats is absorbed and retained by the floor, reducing heat loss and optimizing energy usage. 

energy efficiency

Furnaces, especially older models, are much less energy efficient than electric radiant heat mats.

Heat from a furnace is distributed through a series of pipes and ducts to the areas of intended use and then returned to the furnace for reheating. 

This is massively inefficent when it comes to energy efficiency. Not only is heat lost through warming the air in a room rather than the objects and people inside, but Furnaces can lose up to 15% efficiency just through gaps and leaks in the ducts and pipework.

Comfort and Air Quality

Radiant floor heat mats also come out on top when compared to furnace powered heating systems for both comfort and air quality. 

Radiant heat provides gentle and consistent warmth because they heat spaces without circulating air. This reduces dry air, dust, allergens, and other harmful airborne particles circulated by traditional systems, making them a suitable option for individuals with respiratory sensitivities or allergies.

comfort and air quality

Furnaces, due to their reliance on forced-air systems, can cause air to become dry and may distribute dust and allergens throughout the space.

Zoned Heating Capability

Unlike heating systems powered by a furnace radiant floor heat mats aso have the benefit of zoned heating, allowing for independent temperature control in different areas or rooms. 

This can help you to realize additional energy savings by only heating the spaces that are in use.

zoned heating capability

Furnaces typically function on an “all or nothing” basis where the entire system has to be in use. It is possible for furnace powered systems to be zoned but this would require additional equipment and ductwork modifications which can be extremely expensive to fit.



Is radiant heat cheaper than a furnace?

Even with higher electricity costs, in floor radiant heat mats will allow you to make savings on your monthly energy bills through superior energy efficiency, zoned heating, and smart heating controls when compared to a furnace.

Is in-floor heating more efficient than a furnace?

Yes. Electrical radiant in floor heating operates with 100% energy efficiency whereas common furnaces typically operate at around 80%. Even the best, high-end modern furnaces can’t deliver much over 90% energy efficiency even with a perfect set-up and conditions.

Radiant heat mats like STEP HEAT also turn your entire floor into one large temperature sensor. Because they are self-regulating they will automatically react to temperature changes in the environment therefore lowering or increasing the temperature only as required.

Are radiant floor heat mats compatible with all types of flooring?

Most certainly! Radiant floor heat mats are compatible with virtually any kind of flooring from hardwood floors to carpeted floors, all types of tiled floors, and it can even be installed under laminate flooring making it perfect for bathrooms and wetrooms.


Signifcant progress in electrical heating technology has meant that radiant floor heat mats can be now be correctly viewed as a viable alternative to furnaces in most situations. 

They offer efficient and comfortable heating, even heat distribution, increased energy savings, and improved air quality when compared to furnace or boiler powered systems. 

Radiant floor heating is also much more environmentally friendly with zero carbon emmissions and is compatible with a wide range of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and geothermal heating solutions. 

And, because they are built with self-regulating carbon polymer heating technology they require little to no maintenance throughout their lifespan. A lifespan that is estimated to last anywhere from 30-50+ years (because the technology is so new, there hasn’t yet been time for any of these systems to run through their entire lifecycle). 

If you are looking for a new heating systemt take a look at our radiant heat mats and see if they might prove to be the best candidate for the new source of warmth and comfort in your home.