Q --We are planning a full remodeling job of our master bathroom. We
want it to be comfortable and contemporary, yet energy- and water-efficient. What
efficient products and heating methods should we consider using in it?-Ann M.
A --In addition to creating
a relaxing, enjoyable room, improving your bathroom can substantially increase
the future resale value of your home. If you are doing much of the work yourself
and your budget is limited, make gradual improvements over a year or two.
Other than your kitchen, your
bathrooms (especially a master bath) are the rooms that consume
the most energy and water in the typical home. By making the
proper design improvements and selecting the proper new products,
you can make your bathroom much more efficient.
When remodeling a bathroom,
the first item to consider is how you will heat it. Selecting the
best heating method is somewhat complicated because bathrooms are
used at many different times.
A combination of various types
of radiant heat is often the most efficient and comfortable
heating method for all uses. It is gentle, quiet, and can provide
rapid heating to provide the best comfort. These radiant heating
methods include wall and ceiling heating panels and cove or
electric warm-floor heating units.
A wall or ceiling radiant
panel provides heat quickly without chilly breezes. This allows
you to keep the bathroom cooler when it is not being used, which
results in energy savings. These heating units can be hidden in
the ceiling or mounted against a wall or ceiling.
Electric warm-floor radiant
heating provides the ultimate comfort when you step out of a
shower. It is ideal for use under decorative ceramic tile that
tends to hold the heat and radiate it slowly and continuously.
Since a radiant floor does not provide rapid heat like wall or
ceiling panels, consider putting it on a timer. Turn it on only
during regular high-usage times in the morning and at night.
If you have ever used a towel
warmer after bathing in a hotel, you know how great it feels.
There are many attractive home-size models available that plug
into a standard wall outlet. If you are tearing out the walls
during your remodeling, hard-wire them in. They are made of brass,
real oak, and chrome, and are designed to mount on a wall or on
door hinges to save space. Using one lets you set the bathroom air
temperature lower, without feeling chilly, so you can save on
Most people add a whirlpool or
hydro-massaging, multihead shower when remodeling. Some five-head
showers use a small pump that recirculates the warm water to
reduce water usage and the energy to heat it. If you will use a
single shower head, select a low-flow model.
Select one of the new
super-quiet automatic combination vent fan/lights. If you tend to
forget to switch the fan off, consider getting one with motion and
humidity sensors. These ensure that the light and fan run neither
too long nor too little. If you get up often at night, consider a
model that also has a built-in night-light.
Definitely install a new
low-water-usage toilet. The one-piece models, although more
expensive than two-piece models, are usually the most attractive.
Pressure-assist toilet designs provide a positive, quick flush
with low-water usage, but they are sometimes slightly noisier than
standard gravity toilets.