GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Heating for small bathroom?

mlmaggie | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I am renovating my house, installing solar panels and getting rid of my gas forced hot air system and replacing with mini-splits (very small home < 1000 sq feet) I would like to install an energy efficient heating system in the bathroom (about 6′ x 8′) as I’m not sure the heat will effectively get there, plus I like to have a separate zone for the bath for the usual reasons. i had thought about electric radiant heat in the floor but have heard that can be quite an energy drain. Do people have a suggestion for a very small heating unit for this purpose? Thanks! Maggie

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. wjrobinson | | #1

    Run the electric floor for just an hour starting just before you use the bathroom is how many use such with more monthly costs too.

    The mini will do the rest.

    Start building.

  2. krom | | #2

    You can also use a vent fan that has a heater built in. It will prob be an energy hog, but will only get used when you need it, and its hard to beat stepping out of the shower into a hot stream of air

  3. davidmeiland | | #3

    Maggie, most or all of your choices are going to be direct electrical resistance heat, including the heated mat under tile, fan with built in heater, heat lamp, electric radiator or Cadet heater, etc. As such, they're all around 100% efficient, and none of them is more of an "energy drain" than any other. Personally, I wonder if a lot of the heat generated by a vent fan/heater combo just gets sucked out by the fan, but that's just a hunch. I would go with the heated tile or possibly something like a Convectair electric radiator on the wall (or maybe one of their towel warmers). Get a programmable thermostat for it.

    AJ, it seems like you now say "start building" or "I'm ordering concrete" when you feel you have given the definitive answer and no further discussion should take place. If you start your own web forum, you'll be able to close discussions as soon as you feel they've run their course. Here... not so much.

  4. Robert Opaluch | | #4

    I put a fan/light combo unit in a small, well-insulated bath. During the winter, I put a heat lamp in the unit, so when the light was turned on, the heat lamp heated up the toilet seat or the person sitting on the toilet. Radiant heat is comfortable. Worked great and didn't use much energy, since it was only on when someone turned on that light. I had other lights over the sink for general lighting, and replaced the heat lamp with a regular light bulb during the warmer months. The fan/light combo unit would automatically turn on the fan if it overheated, which I guess is possible if someone left the heat lamp on long enough.

    Is your bathroom insulated well enough? Do you get much unwanted air infiltration through the window? The cheapest solution long-term would be adding insulation. Insulation doesn't generate a utility bill, or need maintenance or replacement for decades if installed well.

    Best of luck with your projects!

  5. wjrobinson | | #5

    No concrete, use thinset to place the electric matt system.

    Build it.

    David build something. Way more productive use of your time my man.

  6. mlmaggie | | #6

    Really appreciating the input. David, thank you for all your input and ideas. It's very helpful. And I think a programmable thermostat is a necessity for what we're trying to achieve. If we're away for a short while in the winter, we'd like to be able to keep the heated areas limited to the bath/kitchen/laundry areas...
    We've had radiant floor heat before (but it was H20) and it took a LONG time to come up to temperature when the thermostat was changed. We were told that it basically was a system where you picked a temperature and kept it there because it was such a slow response time. No lowering the thermostat overnight and raising it again in the a.m. So, I was surprised to read your comment, AJ, to run it for an hour. Is this because it's a relatively little space or is the electric radiant heat more responsive than the H2O?
    And Robert, it is pretty well insulated already and during renovation we're adding 2" rigid insulation around the house under the new siding. The window is new and as energy efficient as windows run. So, yes, the house in general is better insulated than most - we're aiming for as close to a zero energy design as possible.
    i'll check out the radiant, Convectair systems and as an adjunct, the heat lamp... would putting the heat lamp with one of those other systems be overkill? if anyone has any other ideas i'd love to hear them. work will not begin in earnest until the summer so there's time to make an informed decision.

  7. wjrobinson | | #7

    Maggie, I have first hand knowledge of electric heated tile bathrooms. The owners love it. They turn on the floor via the timer that comes with it to their preferred temperature. The time to turn on before going into the bathroom in the AM was figured out by trial and error.

    It runs 1000 watts for an hour costs $5.00/month. They do not use it during the warmest months.

    The other solutions to me are fine but not as high end, in fact some ideas are less than desirable to me, like a fan running verses silence.

    I have used heat lamps myself. They are low cost and work well for the body. They do nothing for the toes and the floor.

    In the end it is a choice. Simple as that.

    Choose and build. David, smile my man.... you'll have a better day.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |