Want to conserve energy and save money at the same time? Look down! Your floor can help you use less energy. The right flooring choices can cut heating and cooling bills while giving you the perfect look and feel for your home. While some choices have a bigger impact than others, there are plenty of steps you can take that really do make a difference. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular choices for energy-efficient flooring and some tips for adding extra savings.
Natural materials tend to be the most energy-efficient, but they’re often the most expensive. If hardwood or wool carpet isn’t in your budget, don’t worry, we’ve got some hacks to help you make the most of whatever material you choose. Here are some of our favorites:
- Hardwood: good old-fashioned hardwood absorbs heat, so it’s one of nature’s best insulators, warm in winter and cool in summer. It also looks terrific, so make sure it’s on your list if it’s in your budget.
- Cork and bamboo are natural products with similar insulating qualities to hardwood at a lower price point. Cork has a little bit of an edge in terms of insulation properties, but some clients prefer the durability of bamboo.
- Engineered wood: some of our favorite engineered wood is made with a special backing to increase energy efficiency. It’s an excellent choice for looks, durability and insulation on a budget.
- Natural stone or ceramic tile may feel cold to the touch in winter, but they conduct heat and are more energy-efficient than you might think. Ceramic works especially well with radiant heat sources within the floor.
- Carpet doesn’t tend to be as strong at offering insulation, but there are some simple things we can do to boost energy efficiency. Adding a thick polyurethane padding layer between the carpet and subfloor can make a big difference. Wool carpet is another natural insulator and a great choice for style.
Underfloor insulation is an increasingly popular choice for boosting energy efficiency, especially above garages, basements and other chilly areas. There are a variety of materials including polyurethane foam and mineral wool available. But it’s definitely not something you want to attempt to DIY. Ventilation and moisture control are big issues when it comes to insulation, so you’ll want to talk to a flooring professional about how and where to insulate and have the job done right.
Radiant heat in the floor is an increasingly popular and energy-saving option when installing new flooring. Radiant heat works with infrared radiation to bring heat directly to the floor. It’s more efficient than baseboard heating and forced-air heating because there’s no energy loss through ducts, according to the US Department of Energy. Radiant heating is gaining fans thanks to its energy-efficient set-up and of course that wonderful feeling of a warm floor under your feet. The most popular type of residential radiant heat uses heated water circulated through tubing under the floors. Radiant heat works especially well with ceramic tile and can also be used with wood and other surfaces.
Style and comfort are often front and center when folks are choosing flooring. Most clients want something that’s going to look great, feel good and bring something special to your home. But energy efficiency is often an overlooked benefit when putting in a new floor. There are so many ways you can boost energy by a lot or a little when choosing your flooring. It makes sense to have a professional to help you make the best choices and make sure the installation is done just right to achieve your goals. At Loudoun Valley Floors, we have decades of experience in helping clients choose smart, functional and gorgeous floors that work for them--and maybe even helping with your energy bills in the process.