© 2021 Elsevier B.V.This study reviews water-based wall systems for space heating and cooling and thermal barriers (TB) for the reduction of buildings’ thermal load. The review gives a general overview of the research and groups it into subtopics that are discussed in detail. For space heating and cooling, the subtopics entail thermal performance, thermal comfort, renewable energy sources, use for building retrofit, and combination with phase change materials (PCM). For TB, especially the working principle, types and designs, and performance are discussed. A classification system is proposed separately for wall heating and cooling systems and TB based on the designs found in scientific literature. Benefits and drawbacks are summarized, and design recommendations are provided for the wall systems. It was shown that in certain cases, radiant wall systems can be preferable to radiant floors and ceilings, but further comparisons would be useful to provide conclusive evidence. For TB, the studies uniformly declare that TB reduce buildings’ thermal loads and energy demands. Few studies focused on the economic and environmental aspects of using TB. Most of the studies about TB are based on calculations. Measurements to quantify the benefits of TB under real operation and refine the conditions under which various types of TB are feasible are lacking. Enhancing the wall performance by PCM in the active layer, application of the wall systems in building retrofit, and alternating between the functions of heating, cooling, and TB present the biggest research opportunities and challenges.