Monday, January 17, 2011
Keeping Your Bathroom Warm in Winter
Start Your Day on the Warmest Note Possible!
After snuggling warmly in your bed on a cold winter night, nothing comes close to the rude awakening of stepping into a frigid bathroom. True, the sudden arctic blast of an ice cold floor, toilet seat or shower may send your alertness from 0-60 in one second flat -- which is fine if you have a hard time reviving in the morning. But the sheer shock and awe of it all is not something most of us want to subject our hearts and nervous systems to.
The bathroom is, generally, the coldest room in the house. But it doesn't need to be. There are a number of simple ways to take the chill out of your morning rituals. Here are some easy suggestions to help you keep your morning visits to the bathroom cozy and warm...even on the coldest winter days.
Watch Your Windows
Drafty bathroom windows are the major culprit when it comes to cold bathrooms. Cold air will enter and warm air will exit through even the tiniest window gaps. Put your hand around all around the glass and window frames to feel for drafts. Pay special attention to window edges and where the window sections cross over each other. If you discover drafts, seal them ASAP. Use caulk around edges and weather stripping where pieces overlap each other. Replace any worn or flattened weather stripping. If you have storm windows, make sure they are in place instead of screens. You can also install removable, see-through plastic window film over the entire window; this does a great job at insulating. Also, be sure to hang up lined curtains or heavy blinds to add another layer of insulation. Finally, if your budget permits, consider installing state-of-the-art, energy-efficient windows; today's windows are engineered to provide superior insulation.
Carpe(t) Diem -- Seize the Day
Don't like stepping onto icy bathroom floor tiles? Lay down a rug or carpet --the thicker and plusher, the better! Carpeting can add a nice homey feel to your bathroom while keeping the chill out and holding heat in. Our recommendation is to use one or more bathroom rugs that you set down where you are more likley to be walking and standing; wall-to-wall carpeting will look snazzy but is much harder to keep clean and dry.
Take Advantage of Your Shower to Add Some Heat
Most people, in order to save money and water, hop in and out of the shower in the morning. But a hot shower can generate lots of nice, warm steam. Consider changing your shower head. Today's water-efficient shower heads use much less hot water than older models -- 2 gallons per minute versus 5-8 gallons-per-minute for older shower heads. That means you can take a longer shower and still conserve hot water. That longer shower will make the bathroom much warmer when you step out to finish your morning routine. After you're done with your shower, you can put that steam to use by opening the door and sharing with the rest of the house. You'll add some valuable moisture and warm air to other rooms.
Add a Heat Lamp
Consider installing a heat lamp in your bathroom. Heat lamps can quickly add toasty heat to the bathroom and speed up drying time. Most heat lamps come with a timer so you can start warming up the bathroom before you step inside and have automatic shutoffs so you don't need to worry about leaving the heat lamp on all day. Warning: if you should go the heat lamp route, avoid installing a heat lamp into a regular light fixture; the extra wattage they require can blow fuses, cause a short circuit or even a fire. Heat lamps should be installed separately. Call an electrician to have your heat lamp installed properly and safely.
Install a Heated Towel Rack
Wrapping yourself in a warm, dry towel can be just the ticket when stepping out of the shower or bath. Heated towel racks, rails or stands are available at many home stores. Most are electric and can be plugged into a wall outlet. Some heated towel racks can be connected to your hot water system, so they don't require any additional electricity to operate. If you decide to go this route, you will probably need an electrician or plumber to properly fit and instal the towel warmer.
Add a Coat of Paint
Giving your room a fresh coat of paint will not only make your bathroom look better, it can keep it warmer. These days you can find a number of high-quality heat-reflecting, insulating paint products. These paints contain ceramic and other insulating materials that reduce heat transfer by reflecting heat away from the painted surface. that means more heat stays in the bathroom and doesn't seep through your walls. This is the same technology used by NASA to reduce heat loss in their space vehicles.
Consider a Heated Floor System
An extravagant though highly effective solution to a chilly bathroom is to install under floor heating. Under floor heating provides even heat distribution across entire floor with no cold spots. Wet floors also pdry up quicker with a heated floor. Most Under floor heating systems are either electric or hydronic (water-based); call a plumber or heating contractor to discuss if installing such a system is good for you.
Warning: Avoid Space Heaters
During the winter months, it may seem tempting to bring electric space heaters, kerosene heaters and other portable heating devices into the bathroom. Yes, they will probably warm up the bathroom in no time. But all the water and moisture in the bathroom can put you at risk of electrocution. Plus...most bathrooms are tight, cramped spaces. It's easy to knock one of these heating devices over or get a towel or bathroom caught in the heating element. That can cause a fire. Play it safe -- keep these devices out of the bathroom.
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