3 Way to Warm Up Your Bathroom This Winter

picture of outhouse in winter

Last Updated on April 13, 2021 Winter home heating is a must, and one room in the house requires extra heating due to the delicate nature of toileting and bathing.

A place of refuge, all members of the family should be assured a sense of comfort and safety in the family bathroom.

In winter, the bathroom feels like the coldest room in the house.  We undress there, an exhaust fan could make it drafty, and the ceramic furnishings are freezing to the touch.

According to Energy Services Group, it costs anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 to heat an average 2200 square foot home.  This cost can be mitigated by turning down the thermostat and weather proofing your home, but it can result in a chilling bath experience.

The good news is, it’s not necessary to heat the entire house just to create a positive bathroom experience!  By heating a relatively small room, the bathroom, it is still possible to lower the overall cost of household heating.

Various technologies can help make the bathroom the most comfortable room in the house, instead of the most chilling, like winterizing, radiant heat and the judicial use electric space heaters.

Low Tech Solutions

Perhaps not as obvious or as glamorous as spending on big ticket items like radiant floor heating or fancy towel warmers, winterizing the bathroom can really help.  It’s easy to stop drafts around doors and windows, and put warm bath mats or rugs on the floor.

Radiant Heated Floors, Luxurious Towel Warmers, and a Wall Heater are great ways to warm up your bathroom this winter.

Radiant Heating Is Spot Heating

A towel rack is heated by electricity or plumbed with hot water.  The original towel warmers were fitted with hot water.  They were essentially a bathroom radiator with a towel warmer attached.[i]

Not really practical for bathroom heating, a modern towel rack uses valuable bathroom space, and radiates heat to a relatively small area.

A great design statement, towel warmers vary in price, style, and output, and include free standing electric models and permanently installed electric or hot plumbing-based models, ranging from under $100 to thousands.

Pure Luxury

The most luxurious form of bathroom heat is the radiant heated floor.  Expensive to install, and worse to maintain, the radiant floor is only practical for new builds or extensive bathroom remodels.  Still, the relative size of a bathroom makes it the best place to splurge.

The radiant floors are fairly cheap to operate, but take a long to reach temperature.  For this reason, they are often “always on” or set to heat on a timer.

One of the chief complaints with a radiant floor is that they do not heat the bathroom air, resulting in a warm floor in a still chilly bathroom.

Electric Bathroom Heaters

An electric bathroom space heater is the fastest, most convenient, most cost-effective way to warm up a cold bathroom.  Even better, the newest bathroom heater models can even be set to begin heating before you get up in the morning!

In a pinch, a regular space heater is great for quickly warming a small bathroom or directing heat in one area.  But there are safety concerns.  According to Consumer Reports[ii], any space heater should ensure national safety standards by being UL certified.  A good space heater will shut off automatically of tipped over or over-heated.

To prevent fatal accidents in a wet area like a bathroom it is best to use a space heater outfitted with electric shock prevention. A GFCI- or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter- will shut the unit down if water gets into it.

A space heater is appropriate on a temporary basis, or in a less used bathroom for guests or occasional use.

Always exercise extreme caution when using a plug-in space heater.  In January 2018 the National Fire Prevention Association reported that 43% of home heating-related fires were due to misused household space heaters.[iii]

The Safest Heating Solution

The very safest heater for a bathroom is one installed in the ceiling.  No flammable item can touch it, and it can’t be splashed with water.

If you are replacing a bathroom exhaust fan, it is a good time to replace it with a combined heater-exhaust.  Most exhaust-heater combinations use an infrared lamp.

They can be noisy and drafty, and the lamp only transfers heat onto anyone or anything directly below it.  The limited range of an infrared lamp makes it useful only for very small, specific areas or bathrooms.

A ceiling installation may be the only choice if there is no room for a wall heater or a space heater.  Most bathrooms are required by local code to have a ventilation fan in order to mitigate dampness and mildew if there is no window.

Wall Heaters

Electric wall heaters are affordable to use, buy and install.  They can be affixed to the wall or recessed in to the wall.  Some operate with a thermostat, so the bathroom is kept at a constant temperature can be kept warm at crucial, high-traffic times.

The placement of a bathroom thermostat requires special care.  Never placed directly above or to close to the heater, the thermostat must be protected from splashing water as well.

The Latest Innovation

Many heaters operate by setting a timer, which saves energy and makes them very safe to use.  The latest innovation in bathroom wall heaters and bath-safe space heaters is one that can be programmed like a coffee maker.  The unit comes on at pre-set time, for example, just before the user’s morning alarm.

No Excuse for a Cold Bathroom

If you are convinced that you would no longer like to suffer in a cold, drafty bathroom, take action!  Assess the heating needs of your bathroom and think about how much you want to spend.  There are so many ways to bring warmth and comfort to your whole family’s bathing experience!

When compared to the expense of heating an entire house, bathroom heating is relatively affordable at any standard.  Design freely according to your budget, remembering to make the bathroom accessories easy to use and safe.


[i] https://onlytowelwarmers.com/blogs/onlytowelwarmers-com/9822682-history-of-the-towel-warmer

[ii] https://www.consumerreports.org/space-heaters/space-heater-safety-tips/

[iii] https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-media/Press-Room/News-releases/2018/Space-heaters-account-for-43-percent-of-US-home-heating-fires-and-85-percent-of-associated-deaths