QUESTION: I was in a house in Europe that had bathroom towel warmers. It felt great in the morning. My bathroom at home is chilly. Can I install one myself at home, and do they cost much to operate?
ANSWER: Residential towel warmer designs vary from simple towel-bar-type units to elegant ornate designs with brushed nickel and real gold-plated trim. I have used one, and a heated towel feels wonderful after a shower on a cold winter morning.
Most towel warmers have built-in electric heating elements. Some are simple plug-in designs and others are hard-wired. If you have hot water heat, select a design that circulates hot water through the towel warmer.
Electric towel warmers use low-wattage heating elements and can save money overall. People often reset the furnace thermostat in the morning because they feel chilly. A toasty warm towel eliminates this uncomfortable chill.
For the most convenience and efficient operation, select a model with a programmable timer. It takes several minutes for a towel warmer to heat up. The timer will start it early so your warm towel is waiting when you step out of the shower. The timer also turns it off if you forget.
The Eurorack towel warmer is the simplest to install. It mounts on the door hinges and is hidden when the door is opened. You just pop out the hinge pins and slip in the bracket. It uses only about 70 watts of electricity.
Domoteck makes a wall-mounted model with a glass shelf for shampoo, soap, etc. Warmatowel models allow for several on-off daily cycles to accommodate your entire family's schedule. They also offer floor designs that just plug in.
Another efficient comfort option for a bathroom is a small electric heater. These can be built into the vent fan or mounted flush in the wall. If space is tight, choose a small 3.5-inch-high under-cabinet model.
Just like a warm towel in the morning, a small built-in electric bathroom heater can eliminate that chilly feeling and the wasteful resetting of the thermostat. There is also a new ventless gas bathroom wall heater available that is 99.9% efficient, and it produces a lot of heat quickly.
If your bathroom vent fan is noisy, replace it with a new one with a built-in heater. Several of the extra-quiet models also have built-in night lights. For a stylish bathroom, choose one with real oak trim or a register-style model that looks like a regular furnace register in the wall.
For a small bathroom, a radiant bulb-type ceiling heater is efficient and effective. For larger rooms, select a higher wattage forced-air model.
Write for (or instant download--http://www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 938--buyer's guide of 16 towel warmer and bathroom heater manufacturers, styles, sizes, comfort features and a sizing chart. Please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope and mail to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.
Uniformity Makes for Safer Staircases
Q: I have a very small area in which to build stairs to a remodeled attic-study. Are there any rules of thumb as to the proper stair height and depth?
A: We become accustomed to the standard stair height (rise) and depth (run). If it is off just an inch, it makes one stumble. You'll find bodies at the bottom of the stairs and lawyers knocking at your door.
A typical stairway has a rise of 7.5 inches and a run of 10 inches per stair. Do not vary them more than an inch from this for frequently used stairs.
Letters and questions to Dulley, a Cincinnati-based engineering consultant, may be sent to James Dulley, Los Angeles Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.