I have a basement bathroom (roughly 8' x 4') that corners two outside walls, and has no heat vent. Months like this it's ice cold. I'd like to heat it up, just not sure how, outside of running a space heater unattended (!). I use the bathroom quite often so a spending a little money is worth it. It's on the opposite end of the house from the furnace, and the closest vent is just outside the door in the laundry area.

I'm pretty handy, so I should be able to handle most diy solutions.

  • Is cost of operation an object? What is your main heat source? – Ecnerwal Jan 3 '14 at 1:51

A space heater or baseboard heater with its own thermostat should be sufficient, one with a schedule timer would be ideal. Just like a central HVAC system it'll keep the room warm when you are likely to use it and not run the heater at night or beyond a certain temperature.

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  • I once lived in a 1950's house that had a small basement bathroom with a ceiling heater. It was a combo heater/lamp/exhaust fan like this one. I think it had a timer that you'd set when you entered the bathroom that would automatically turn off the heater after a set period. I do remember that it didn't work all that well, by the time you were done in the bathroom, it was just starting to warm up, so maybe a thermostat would be better than a timer or switch. – Johnny Jan 3 '14 at 1:08
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    I believe a timed thermostat (not simply a timer) is being suggested, so that the room can be warmed before use is anticipated, without keeping it warm at all times. – Ecnerwal Jan 3 '14 at 1:46
  • @Ecnerwal is correct. I do not know the term, but a timer that lets you tell the heater "turn on at 9 AM and off at 4PM" is what I had in mind. – Freiheit Jan 3 '14 at 13:51

If your electric service is not overloaded, some form of permanently installed electric heat is nearly always the cheapest to install (without the "unattended space heater" issues), and the most expensive to run. If you wanted to redo the tiles (or it has none and you'd like to add them) an underfloor radiant grid would be nice, if you can ignore what it does to your electric bill. Otherwise plain old electric baseboard or a wall or ceiling radiant panel would work.

If cost to operate is an object, you might want to see if you can add to the duct feeding the laundry area and put a vent in the bathroom - or even relocate the laundry vent to the bathroom (if the heat will then flow back out of the bathroom in to the laundry area.) Ideally you'd want to consult with a heating professional to make sure that duct sizes and overall load on the furnace are OK, rather than just ripping into it and adding a duct. If you have gas heat, this will be anywhere from 1/2 - 1/4 the price of electric heat (depending on gas and electric rates.)

Next spring you should consider digging down outside that corner as far as you can manage, and installing XPS foam insulation sheets as far down as you can dig. Aboveground treatment will vary depending what your termite issues are - here we have little in the way of those, so it's OK to foam right up to the sill and stucco over it for appearances sake aboveground - in more termite prone areas I think you have to forgo the insulation between the ground and sill or it makes a place for termites to hide.

For a "creative" method you could make use of a hot water recirculation pump and run the return piping all around the walls or under the floor (thicker than an electric mat, though) or through a fan-coil unit to basically put the heating load onto your hot water heater, rather than the furnace - and you'd have hot water without the wait to boot.

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Long ago and far away, I lived in a newly constructed high rise apartment. The bathroom had a timer-controlled overhead heat lamp. Just enough time to dry after a shower, warmth aplenty. What passes for energy efficient and heat, I don't know. But such a configuration was great, you're not in the room that long and the room is small.

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