Home Improvement Projects To Warm Up Cold Rooms

If some alchemy of floor plan design, insulation and ventilation makes one room in your home colder than all the others, you can even things out by installing a supplemental heating system. A quick home improvement project can make the room more livable.

Family Handyman has several ideas to help you warm things up. Here are a few:

* A toe-kick heater. A type of space heater you’ll need to wire in to your main electrical panel, these devices fit underneath cabinets and keep your feet warm.

* Duct booster fan. To get warmer air piping into the room, you can mount a blower near a duct outlet and plug it in or hard-wire it. When your furnace turns on, a pressure switch makes the fan push hot air into the room.

* Cove heater. These also need to be hard-wired into your system, but are safer than heaters mounted on the floor because you install them up high. The oblong panels radiate heat from above and don’t make noise since they lack fans.

7 Ways to Warm Up a Cold Room [Family Handyman]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tim says:

    On the cove heater: I thought that since heat rises, you want to put heaters near the floor. Otherwise the heat just stays near the ceiling and you don’t feel it as much down below.

    • Costner says:

      Technically heat rises as it is less dense than cooler air, but it is no such a strict rule that it will always stay near the top unless you live in a complete vaccum. Heat is also attracted to cold, so it will radiate outward and fill the room. Is it as efficient as a heat source lower on the wall… probably not, but the difference isn’t as significant as you might think.

      Plus, a heat source higher up can have other benefits such as keeping it away from furniture and drapes, along with keeping it away from children’s fingers. If there is any air movement in the room (forced air movement, people walking around, doors opening, or a ceiling fan running) the air will be dispersed enough that the location of the heat source won’t be a significant factor on whether or not the occupants are comfortable.

      Exceptions to this would be cases where there are very high ceilings and no ceiling fans, or in cases where there is insufficient air movement to keep the heat circulating.

    • gitmo234 says:

      Heat doesnt rise… heat radiates evenly in all directions. Hot air rises. Sorry, just had to go nerd on you.

  2. ahecht says:

    Seriously Phil, lay off on the dubious self-help blogspam. If it’s not a consumer issue, just don’t post it. 9 out of the last 10 Phil posts have been reposting tips from a random blog, not consumer issues.

    • misterfweem says:

      Because saving money on electric bills is ABSOLUTELY NOT a consumer issue, amirite?

      • winnabago says:

        Um, won’t these tips will actually raise energy bills, adding resistance heaters and fans? These self-help posts are getting to me too (feel cold, buy a heater / have no money, spend less) Why not actually invest in your house and airseal around openings and add insulation where you can? That is a smart consumer move.

      • ahecht says:

        Nowhere in the post above or the original article is saving money mentioned. And, unless you have electric heat (almost no-one does), then all these tips will INCREASE your electric bill. Most of these methods will be more expensive than cranking up a natural gas furnace depending on electricity rates.

        • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:


        • Arctic Snowbot says:

          I have electric heat in my apartment, and electric heat in the house I’m
          Trying to buy. It’s cheaper than gas where I come from, so your observation about the lack of electric heat is incorrect.

          • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

            Where do you live?

            • Arctic Snowbot says:

              The Pacific Northwest.

              • JiminyChristmas says:

                True enough, but what he is saying is true for almost everywhere in the US except where you live. I don’t think any other region of the country has as much cheap hydropower generation as you do.

                That doesn’t change the fact that gas is a more efficient heating fuel than electric resistance. If I were your utility and wanted to make more money I would sell my cheap hydropower kilowatts into a more expensive energy market and incentivize my old ratepayers to convert to more efficient natural gas.

        • JiminyChristmas says:

          Per BTU, you are correct that gas heat is typically cheaper than electric heat. Otherwise, what you are saying doesn’t necessarily hold true. If you have a tiny house, I guess it’s theoretically possible you might come out ahead turning up the thermostat just to heat up one room instead of adding electric heat.

          Otherwise, if you have a 2,000sf house you aren’t going to save money by cranking up the gas furnace for the whole house versus plugging in a space heater.

          • bobloblaw says:

            we have been running 2 space heaters to supplement fireplace only @ night in a 800 sq ft house, and it kicked up the electric bill by $200/mo. FYI. and electric is cheap here in NC.

    • Darury says:

      Tips for saving money are way more relevant than the non-consumer related issues that Mary Beth posts are just re-hashes of HuffPo articles.

    • Arctic Snowbot says:

      I’m not trying to defend Phil, but it seems as though you’re wasting your time arguing about a post that you don’t like when it could help other people. There are quite a few more people on the Internet than the commenters at consumerist who may or may not know this kind of information about heating up a room. Maybe it’s not the best advice for some, but it gets the thought process going.

    • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

      I had no idea that most of these 7 heating options existed. All of them are available for me to purchase. So: totally a consumer issue. Lay off Phil.

  3. rpm773 says:

    We put oil-filled radiators, controlled by a programmable thermostats, in two of our colder rooms. These are rooms that aren’t tied into the house heating system

    They work really well, and the heat is a lot more comfortable than those that blow hot air across red-hot metal. Plus they’re on only when we need them, because they’re still not very efficient to operate.

  4. chemmy says:


  5. jvanbrecht says:

    I find just setting my house on fire heats things up really fast :)

    I kid.. no really.. as much as I want to burn down the piece of crap I call my house (hindsight is 20/20 etc etc), Insurance companies frown upon such endeavors. More to the point.. having 4 or 5 pets, and none of them being home when the house burns down is usually a good indicator of insurance fraud

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      Whenever I see stories on the news about space junk falling, I secretly hope it will fall on my house, but if it does, my pets will somehow escape unharmed. I hate my house too and am sorely tempted to just gut the whole thing and start again.

    • PdxPhoenix says:

      Wouldn’t it only be insurance fraud if you set the fire AND tried to file an insurance claim for an “accidental” fire? Just setting the fire would be arson, since the police tend to not care for that sort of thing either…. unless you contacted the fire dept to see if they wanted a “practice fire”…

  6. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    I remember the first time we made rain gutter popsicles when I was a kid. Getting them down was always the hardest part, but we saved a lot of money doing it ourselves. Ah, the memories of childhood…

  7. fmatthew5876 says:

    My question is how does the power usage from these options compare to the power usage of simply turning up your central heating?

    • Rachacha says:

      The issue really is when you have one or two cold rooms but the rest of the house is comfortable. If you turn up the central furnace the cold rooms will still seem cold and the comfortable rooms will seem too hot

      When I finished my basement it was always a bit cooler than the rest of the house so I installed a small baseboard heater. This was enought to take the chill out of the room. The ceiling radiant heaters are EXPENSIVE as are radiant floor heaters as a retrofit

  8. Eifnor says:

    Get a thermostat with a 35% fan circulate mode to even out the cold spots in your home. The Honeywell-TH8320U1008 is the one I use. My electric company provided it for free as part of their peak demand program.

  9. Gregory says:

    The article describes lots of ways to heat a cold room, but doesn’t mention even trying to find out why it’s cold.

    Common problems are air leaks, especially around windows, and in electrical boxes. You can prevent a lot of heat loss around windows with some affordable acrylic caulk. For electrical boxes (outlets, light switches and light fixutres) there are prefab foam gaskets but caulk is also good for sealing the holes in the back where the wires enter and exit the boxes.

    Sometimes it’s the flexible heat duct has fallen off the heat register below the floor. This is another common air leakage area. Sometimes the previous owner installed an inline flow adjuster that is shut, the trick is to find it. Or perhaps the floor insulation has been pulled down by animals.

    A great tool is the cheap IR thermometer “guns” with the laser light. You can use this to find cold spots in walls, ceiling and floor and investigate further after you locate the problem area.

  10. fruvous says:
  11. Jerem43 says:

    The booster fan works wonders. I installed three of them to heat the upstairs of my house (one for each bedroom) and a small addition on the back. They’re hardwired into the heater, when it goes on they come on. These room used to never get above 60 on cold days, now they’re just as warm as the main floor…

  12. shepd says:

    1. Purchase massive home theatre projector.
    2. Heat room by watching movies with the projector on non-Eco mode.
    3. Pay hydro bill.
    4. There is no step 4 (or, for those of you elsewhere, ask how “hydro” went from being water to meaning electricity).


  13. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Or if you’re poor and live in a tiny house like me, buy the oil-filled electric radiators. Those things are great. They heat up my tiny rooms that are out of reach of the ancient floor furnace. Since gas is way more expensive in the winter than electricity, they actually save me money. Otherwise I have to crank the furnace up to Stun.

  14. Cerne says:

    Anybody have advice for the opposite situation? My apartment’s heat is centrally controlled and has been way too hot all winter.

    • Gregory says:

      I had an apartment once with steam radiators controlled by the landlord. I often resorted to opening the window in my bedroom, as there was no effective adjustment.

      In a pinch you could try covering them with that foil faced bubble wrap or maybe even just foil. But they’re gonna get hot no matter what eventually.

      If you have forced air heat just block the vents either partially or totally.

      • ilovemom says:

        Pink foam might be a better choice for insulating the radiators. You can easily cut it with a kitchen knife (or box cutter) and glue it together with silicone sealant. If you’re feeling fancy you could build (or buy) radiator covers to hide the insulation.

  15. Thalia says:

    Insulate. Heating the outside is not very cost efficient.