When dealing with perhaps the most complex system in the house, it just makes sense to have the best-trained talent working for you. So Eichler owners and others with radiant-heat systems to maintain may want to at least chat with Robert Horky of R.H. Hydronics. Unlike most U.S.-trained technicians, the Austrian-born Horky was schooled in Austria, where he attended a five-year college that focused on radiant heat, geothermal, and solar. At the end of the program, he was a fully qualified engineer with a specialty in radiant heat.
“With the kind of involved training we have in Austria,” Robert says, “you have to calculate heating systems, heat loss, and energy loss factors, and you have to calculate the boiler size against the windows and the walls.” What Robert calls a “ground-up” understanding of the science behind radiant heat means that he can assemble the most efficient system possible for any given home. “You need to have the right equipment for the right conditions. If it’s not done the right way, your energy costs can go through the roof because things can be so inefficient,” Horky says. To that end, Horky specializes in high-quality, extra-durable hardware, such as the Energy Star-rated Buderas GB 142 Boiler, manufactured by Bosch. “That’s a high-efficiency boiler,” Horky says. “It’s very quiet in its operation, runs between 90 and 96 percent efficiency, and has a long history of durability.” For radiant additions and replacement systems, Horky likes the top-of-the-line Quik-Trak radiant-heat panels for their low-impact installation and individualized controls. These utilitarian panels, says Horky, are laid on the home’s concrete-slab foundation, and become the sub-floor.
“You can literally just put carpet or hardwood over it and you don’t have to do anything else,” he says. “Plus, each room can be controlled by its own thermostat. That saves energy costs because you only heat up the rooms you actually need.” After more than 20 years in the radiant-heat trade and with some 70 Eichler projects under his belt, Horky’s experience matches his high caliber training. And based on his interest and experience, the ambitious engineer has lofty goals for the future. “I would love to install a complete solar integrated heating system or a geothermal system into any home,” he says. “That would be my dream.” If anybody can do it, Robert Horky can.
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