Solution 4: Electric Floor Heat
This can be a great choice for a small-scale retrofit project like heating a mudroom or kitchen, or warming up a cold bathroom. Under-tile radiant systems are still the most common, but many companies offer systems that work equally well beneath laminate, carpet and engineered floors. There are two basic types of systems: ‘loose wires’ that you run across the floor and ‘mat’ systems, with the wires prearranged inside a mesh or fabric mat.
Laying the floor cable is a budget-friendly project. Adding electric radiant floor heat for a typical bathroom when you install a new floor adds about $200 to $300 to the cost of the project. The electrical connections require only basic wiring know-how. Since these systems generally draw only 10 to 15 watts per square foot, you can usually connect them to an existing circuit to heat a typical bathroom. Get step-by-step radiant floor heat installation instructions.
Solution 5: Radiant Ceiling Panels
Like cove heaters, radiant ceiling panels heat the occupants of a room from above. These inch-thick panels mount on the ceiling and can be an energy efficient option in a room where you want to ‘spot heat’ people in a specific area. The panels heat to 150 degrees F within five minutes of being switched on, and they cool down just as quickly. If you mount one directly above a worktable or a desk, you can work comfortably without having to heat the entire room and get heat when and where you want it.
The panels range from 1 x 2 ft. to 4 x 8 ft., and you can screw them directly to the ceiling or install them in a suspended ceiling grid. Installing a small panel is similar to installing a fluorescent light fixture. You can connect the panel, along with a thermostat, to a standard junction box, and you can power a single panel from an existing circuit. Larger panels require separate 120- or 240-volt circuits. The panels are textured and some can be painted. Panels designed specifically for bathrooms include a built-in exhaust fan, light and night-light. The panels cost from $200 to $500 depending on the size.
Radiant or Convection Heat?
Convection models include oil-filled radiators, electric baseboard and toe-kick heaters, and flat panel wall-mounted units that warm the air around the heater and rely on the room’s air circulation to heat the room. Fan-forced convection models are the most popular type of supplemental heater. They have a heating element and a fan that blows the warm air around the room. These heat a room more quickly than a unit without a fan; however, when the fan shuts off, the room cools down quickly. The fans can be quite noisy and are a serious concern for people affected by allergens blowing around the room. Convection models are best for: rooms with doors so you can contain the warm air, whole-room heating, constant operation, rooms where you move around instead of sitting in one spot.
When you’re shopping for a portable electric space heater, look for models that offer advanced safety features like child-resistant controls, an overheat shutoff, and a tip-over safety alarm and shutoff. Also consider models with energy-efficient options such as thermostats, occupancy sensors, automatic timers and multiple power settings.