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What’s the best way to heat your bathroom?

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While tiled bathrooms can be a lifesaver in summer, the thought of stepping onto that frosty floor in winter can fill us all with dread. Waiting for the water to warm up ready for a shower somehow feels longer than having to plank for a minute… and most would agree that those are the longest minutes ever!

So, if you’re looking for a way to combat the cold and keep your bathroom nice and toasty then you have come to the right place! We have compiled a list of both budget and pricier options to heat that cold bathroom.

7 ways to heat your bathroom

Here are some of the best tried-and-tested ways to heat your bathroom.

1. Check the windows

bathroom with window

First things first, make sure that the windows in your bathroom are properly sealed. There is no point trying to fill a bucket that has a hole in it and the same philosophy applies to heating your bathroom. If you can feel cold air coming in, that means that the warm air is also going out. Fixing this is a fairly simple process, and whilst there are a number of different ways to do this, an inexpensive solution is a self-adhesive weather strip which can be found in most hardware stores or online for about $5-$12.

2. Use bathmats

shower with bathmat

This one may seem obvious but adding cute bathmats by the shower, the toilet and in front of the sink not only increases the aesthetic of your bathroom but helps keep the heat in and your toes off the arctic tiles. This is a budget and renter-friendly option that doubles in taking your bathroom design to the next level. You can even cover your entire bathroom floor with plush, washable rugs to avoid getting cold feet.

3. Invest in an overhead heating lamp

bathroom heating lights

If you don’t already have an overhead heating lamp installed in your bathroom, they are a game-changer! It’s like a beaming ray of sun and it makes getting out of the shower much more pleasant in the cooler months. Most overhead heating lamps come in a 3-in-1 format, consisting of a light, a heating function, and an extraction fan, meaning that they can be used all year round.

They’re fairly inexpensive to purchase, starting from around $50, and are one of the most energy-efficient solutions for heating your bathroom, although keep in mind you’ll need to factor in installation costs. They’re easily retrofitted to existing bathrooms and come in different designs and finishes.

However, it’s worth noting that overhead heating lamps lose some of their efficiency in large bathrooms. This is because hot air rises and since heating lamps are mounted on the ceiling, the heated air has nowhere else to go but down; if the ceiling is too large, the air cools before it reaches the edges and only heats a localised area.

4. Use a heated towel rail

heated towel rail with towels

Not only are heated towel rails functional in terms of drying and heating your towels, but they also add warmth to your bathroom without breaking the bank to run. In fact, the cost of running a basic heated towel rail has been compared to the cost of running a standard lightbulb. Towel racks work by heating up coils inside the tubing rail and radiating heat outwards to heat towels, and the warmth will be felt throughout as well. You can turn these on and off with a switch.

Additionally, they can be as minimal or ‘extra’ as you like. The initial purchase of a heated towel rail starts from about $70 and ranges well into the thousands if you really want to get fancy. After this, is the cost of installation, which depends on size, finish, labour costs, etc. If looked after correctly, heated towel rails can last years in your home and with all the different options available, they can add a level of sophistication as well as comfort to your cold bathroom.

5. Underfloor heating

underfloor heating in bathroom

If you’re building, renovating, or planning on replacing your bathroom tiles anytime soon, then this is the perfect opportunity to add an extra level of luxury to your bathroom. Underfloor heating can warm up your bathroom evenly from the floor up. This type of heating is available in two different energy sources: electric and hydronic (hot water) and, whilst there are associated upfront costs, it’s a mighty effective way to heat your bathroom. It doesn’t have to be installed in the whole room either so avoiding spaces such as showers and cabinets could be a way to cut down costs a little.

Most underfloor heating systems can be controlled by either a timer or are programmable, giving you control over when it’s on, which is ideal in terms of keeping running costs down. Generally speaking, underfloor heating is cheaper to run than air conditioners or radiators, with the overall cost depending on factors such as the size of the bathroom, wattage, whether or not your house has solar power, etc.

6. Heated toilet seat

bathroom with heated toilet seat

The shock of the freezing toilet seat is definitely enough to wake you up on a middle-of-the-night loo run so why not consider a heated seat? Originally, these came with a ‘smart toilet’ but are now available to purchase separately with functions such as night lights, automatic deodorisers, and even massage. They’re designed to attach to your existing toilet and can be found at hardware and bathroom stores as well as online. Heated toilet seats can range from $60 to $400 but if you want to get real fancy and include a bidet as well, they can go up into the thousands.


Read More: Should toilet paper go over or under?


7. Panel heaters

panel heater

Another alternative way to heat your bathroom is to use a panel heater. Some models have corrosion-resistant and water-resistant properties, but you should always take the heater out of the bathroom before you run any water and take appropriate caution. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Panel heaters use convective heat to warm up a room, and are compact and great for small bathrooms. However, they’re not the most energy-efficient solution as they usually require time to warm up and are designed to be used for a longer period of time as opposed to some of the other options outlined above.


Read more: How to pick the best bathroom heater


Are portable heaters safe to use in a bathroom?

Portable electric heaters are a popular option to heat individual rooms in your home, but they’re not safe to use in rooms with high humidity (like bathrooms) because:

  1. electric heaters used near water pose an electrocution hazard for all family members
  2. moisture in the air could cause internal elements in the appliance to rust over time, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Therefore, it’s generally recommended that an installed heater is the way to go if you want to heat your bathroom, although your final decision will depend on your bathroom’s design and your budget. Some of the most popular options are 3-in-1 overhead heating systems, underfloor heating, or even a heated towel rail. Whilst these options do have a more expensive upfront cost, they’re more energy-efficient thanks to their zoning functions.


Read more: Electric heaters buying guide


Convection vs radiation heating: What’s best for the bathroom?

If you must use an electric heater in your bathroom (make sure to turn off the appliance at the wall before you run any water) − radiant heaters are best since they have a short heat-up time and are designed to transfer heat to people and objects in direct proximity, as opposed to circulating heated air around a room like convection heaters. This means less heat is likely to be lost through opened doors in a busy household or during rush hour in the mornings when everyone is trying to use the bathroom. However, radiant bar heaters can have high running costs and are usually the most expensive type of electric portable heater to use.

As mentioned, radiation heaters use electricity and infrared heat generated by the number of bars, to transfer heat directly to people and objects in a room. They don’t contain fans or anything to circulate the hot air, so they also operate silently. A number of different heating solutions use radiation heating such as heated towel rails, underfloor heating, and radiators.

On the other hand, convection electric heating works by drawing in cold air over a heating element before passing it back through the room. The benefit of convection heaters is that they can effectively heat a whole room for an extended period, as they heat the air rather than just the space around them. Therefore, they are great for shared living spaces such as living or dining rooms.


Read more: Gas heater vs electric heater: Which is best?


What’s the most energy-efficient way to heat your bathroom?

The most energy-efficient way to heat your cold bathroom would be to install an overhead heating lamp. Not only are they easily retrofitted into existing bathrooms, with limited costs involved, but they also come with varying wattage bulbs to ensure adequate heating for the size of the room. There’s also no pre-heating required as it only needs to be on when you’re using the bathroom, so that will help keep your power bill in check.


Read more: 10 most expensive appliances to run at home


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