Not a week goes by without one of our customers asking us about infrared heating. The technology is very much a part of the modern energy landscape – and of our business – promising to transform the way we heat our homes and save us money in the process. But what else, if anything, can it do…?
In the move towards a more efficient Britain, a focus on energy prices tends to overshadow the innovative application of new technologies, like infrared. At GoSustainable, we’re keen to explore the effects of sustainable energy solutions in all their forms – and I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at infrared… a heat energy many people believe carries remarkable health benefits.
Natural, Clean and Safe
Understanding the potential health applications of infrared (IR) heat means understanding the science behind it. All human bodies absorb and emit infrared heat – which is the same natural energy given off by the sun. As an energy solution, infrared differs from traditional heating methods: conventional radiators heat the air but are susceptible to drafts, take a long time to work and are notoriously hard to control – all classic efficiency pit-falls.
Infrared heating panels, on the other hand, avoid these problems by radiating waves which work on objects in their path – raising their temperatures directly and avoiding waste energy. The way infrared penetrates deep beneath surfaces is also effective on the human body – an effect which raises interesting medical possibilities…
As I delved into the history of IR heat, it didn’t take long to find research on its use in the treatment of chronic health problems – including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: a Swedish case study reported the success of IR in treating arthritic patients: a 70 year old man experienced significant pain relief after IR treatment and a 14 year old girl with crippling knee pain, experienced improvements after a handful of IR sauna treatments, even taking up dancing shortly after.
- Congestive heart failure: deep penetrating IR waves are thought to stimulate heart rate and may be used to ‘train’ the organ to perform better under stress. NASA picked up on this technique in the 1980s – employing it as a way to condition astronauts for long space flights.
- Muscle pain/spasms: acting on the nerves and cells of bones and joints, IR heat is thought to combat certain muscle conditions and provide pain relief. An American study on 40 patients with lower back problems showed a significant reduction in pain levels after IR heat treatment.
Health Benefits in Your Home – and at Work
As an energy solution, we’ve found one of IR’s greatest advantages is its versatility: the technology is incredibly well-suited to heating a variety environments, and is just as applicable in the home as it is in the workplace. This versatility directly enhances its health benefits – especially its potential to help with everyday medical conditions and concerns, such as…
Asthma: since IR doesn’t heat the air (but objects in its path), IR panels can help to reduce levels of circulating dust particles – and make asthmatics’ lives a lot easier. We recently installed IR panels for an asthmatic customer on a trial basis – after seeing just how much dust circulation was reduced, the customer moved forward with a whole house installation.
Chest complaints: powered 100% by electricity, IR heat reduces incidences of mould and damp in the areas it is installed – great news for anyone struggling with bronchitis or similar chest complaints – and an ideal heating solution for workplace environments where illnesses can spread quickly.
Mobility: sleek and unobtrusive, IR panels can be mounted on any flat surface, including ceilings – maximising space for wheelchair users or anyone with mobility problems without affecting radiant heat output. IR panels are activated with the simple flick of a switch – another great benefit to less-mobile users at home or at work.
Hygiene: the flat surface of an IR panel is quick and easy to clean, – a great advantage for environments where hygiene is a priority, like hospital wards and GP surgeries. Workplaces with high customer turnover, like hairdressers or physiotherapy practices, also stand to benefit from IR panels’ hygiene credentials.
In fact, the health industry as a whole – in the public and private sectors – stands to benefit from a move to IR heating systems. Any internet search for ‘IR health benefits’ reveals a range of therapeutic accessories – such as heat lamps, saunas and massagers – already in wide use, while physiotherapists and spas have already introduced IR to their catalogues, for specialist treatments like weight-loss and detox.
A 21st-century Solution…
Infrared represents a genuine 21st-century energy solution in that it promises to help Britain’s homes and businesses transition to a more efficient and environmentally-conscious future. The public and media’s focus on prices and bills is understandable – but as medical understanding deepens, the technology’s health benefits have the potential to position it at the forefront of a new era of energy – while flying the flag of sustainability.
To continue this trend, it is our job as installers to understand the peripheral benefits of IR – and indeed, every sustainable energy solution we offer – and communicate these to our customers effectively. In this case, those benefits could put them in better financial – and physical – condition.