warmer with wood
When it’s time to replace old carpets, many people make the switch to wood floors. Why? While carpet may feel warmer than wood on your bare feet and cost less, it’s also harder to clean, easier to ruin, faster to wear out, and much worse for allergies. Plus wood increases the beauty and value of your home. But did you know that wood floors can also save you energy and money?
Now I know what you’re thinking: “That doesn’t make any sense! How can wood keep my house warmer when it feels colder? Isn’t the whole point of carpet to keep a house warm?” Well . . . let me explain.
Heat that moves
The bottom line is that carpet is an insulator and wood is a conductor. Carpet stops heat from moving while wood absorbs heat and also allows it circulate. People have a false perception that carpet holds onto the heat, but really it just reduces the flow of energy in your home. This means that your furnace has to work much harder to push heat through your carpets and warm up your entire house. On the other hand, wood improves your home’s heat circulation by allowing heat to pass through it. Especially in homes with radiant heating systems, wood conducts heat and allows it to get to you more easily while carpet requires higher heat settings to get the warmth into your living areas.
Heat that lasts
Wood also maintains heat longer than carpet because it has a higher thermal mass. Wood and other solid materials significantly reduce your home’s temperature fluctuation because they absorb and store heat while light carpet fibers simply become a barrier. This phenomenon holds true for other solid materials too like concrete, laminate, ceramic, and tile. Having materials with high thermal mass in your home saves money on your utilities because your house doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain its cool during the heat of the day or keep its warmth late at night. The temperature stays more constant.
Heat that costs less
So what does all this mean for you? Honestly the best way to lower your utility bills is to install a wood floor—or another heat conductor with high thermal mass—and then insulate the outside of your home (walls, roof, windows, etc.). You will be warmer, and your bill will be smaller.