Energy Savings

Montreux, Switzerland, on the scenic Lake Geneva, one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world, is very inviting and inspiring, just like a beautiful acid-stained concrete floor, but unfortunately, it will not lead to any energy savings.  Photo courtesy of Marc Baertsch.

Montreux, Switzerland, on the scenic Lake Geneva, one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire world, is very inviting and inspiring, just like a beautiful acid-stained concrete floor, but unfortunately, it will not lead to any energy savings.  Photo courtesy of Marc Baertsch.

One great benefit of using acid-stained concrete flooring in a home or business is the resulting energy savings. This is due to a basic property of concrete called “thermal mass”, which means it has a high capacity to absorb, store, and slowly release heat and coolness. This "thermal mass" property of concrete serves greatly to moderate indoor temperature swings in rooms, reducing the load on heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment. The benefits of thermal mass are greatest in northern, midwestern climates, like Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, where outdoor temperature fluctuations are among the highest in the United States. The reason this property of concrete becomes so important is that floors are the second highest source of thermal mass in a building, accounting for approximately 35-50% of the total.

Energy savings from thermal mass, however, go unrealized if the concrete is unexposed. Carpeting, tile, and hardwood, for example, have very low degrees of thermal mass, and for the most part, reflect and dissipate warm heat and cool air. Acid-stained concrete flooring, on the other hand, uses thermal mass' full potential.  Monetary savings for acid-stained, and other types of decorative concrete flooring, are estimated at between 15% and 26% annually, depending on the amount of concrete flooring used in the building. With natural gas prices rising at approximately 10% annually since 2003, thermal mass can become a very real source of savings for businesses and households. Two ways of enhancing this savings even more are to use radiant heating in a concrete floor or to use decorative concrete overlays on wood sub-floors in your home.  This is because radiant heating systems heat objects in a room, such as furniture and persons, by emitting heat, rather than elevating air temperature; as a result, air temperatures may usually be set 7 or 8 degrees lower than normal.  Dual radiant systems are also available that provide cooling in addition to heating.