With cooler weather on the way, you're likely thinking about ways to warm up your house without raising heating bills. According to the U.S. Energy Department website, heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical American home. And as you know, those bills add up.
In addition to energy expenses, big chilly-weather pet peeves may be those ice-cold floors your feet meet each morning when stepping out of the shower or the need to wrap up in blankets when watching TV in your den. Some homeowners are ready to upgrade their furnaces to more powerful models, but if the time isn't quite right for you, consider these five popular heat features to keep your home toasty warm.
1) Portable fireplace. A real fireplace may be on your wish list, but a big construction job is not. If you'd like to avoid demolishing walls, hiring a contractor, bringing in an electrician and other pricy steps of fireplace installation, you'll be happy to discover the many models of portable, stylish fireplaces that require no chimney and don't create the mess of a real fireplace. The experts at Holly & Martin show portable fireplaces in a range of wood colors from mahogany to white, utilizing gel fuel cans that imitate the crackling sound of real wood. Upscale models can support a lot of weight on the mantel.
2) Radiant heat. Radiant flooring, usually installed beneath the tiles of bathroom floors, creates a comfortable warmth when you step on that flooring after a bath or shower. Not longer will you feel as though you're standing on a block of ice while brushing your teeth. Tile floors tend to hold low temperatures, especially if your thermostat is set to low temperatures overnight. Radiant heat flooring removes that bone-chilling (and perhaps arthritis-annoying) cold, eliminating the need to raise your thermostat to dramatically high levels each morning.
3) Eco-friendly portable space heater. The experts at the eco-living website TreeHugger recently selected their favorite models of eco-friendly space heaters. Among the designs are those with a 360-degree heat radius to quickly warm an entire room, space-age oval designs and portable space heaters with a preheat timer that allow you to wake up to an already warmed room.
4) Towel warmer. Electric towel warmers ensure that you can immediately wrap yourself in a cozy, warmed towel when you step out of the shower or bath. They come in rack form -- in chrome or antique gold color -- or as a lidded canister that fits several towels at once. An automatic shut-off feature in some designs provides added safety.
5) Solar heat. For a pricier fix, consider adding solar panels that harness the sun's energy to create heat and energy. The U.S. Energy Department suggests getting an expert energy audit for your home, and then working with building professionals experienced in energy-efficient house design.
Whenever using heat-producing products, always familiarize yourself with the product's safety instructions to prevent fires and electrical issues, and never leave heating features on when not in the room or after leaving your home. To maximize energy efficiency, unplug your electric heating features so that they don't continue to draw upon your energy system even when they're not in use.