There's probably nothing better than drying off with a warm towel on a winter's day. But unless your laundry room is near your bathroom, that opportunity won't come along very often.
More convenient towel-warming methods are available.
Need to know: Towel warmers can be portable, floor-mounted, or wall-mounted and can operate either electrically or hydronically. Electric models either plug in or can be hard-wired; they install easily, come with on-off switches, and operate at up to 200 watts. A hydronic model can double as a radiator in some situations, though not if it's replacing an under-window radiator.
Space cases: Be sure the towel warmer you buy can fit into your room. Jacuzzi's newest model, which debuted at the International Builders Show in Orlando a few weeks ago, comes in 24- and 36-inch-wide cabinets that fit easily into tight spaces. The warming drawers accommodate four towels each draped over heated poles that bring the temperature to 105 degrees in a few minutes.
Myson sells electric units up to 48 inches by 24 inches in hard-wired and plug-in versions that hold a large number of towels.
Wesaunard's multiple-rail Eutopia is designed to fit into corners, and its Futurama is an S-shaped affair that offers a mirror at additional cost. If you want a particular shape or design, such as a guitar, Wesaunard will make that, too.
Warmrails makes a hard-wired warmer shelf that can be installed over the toilet or other fixture.
Be sure to ask: Are there any special installation issues? For instance, if the towel warmer you're buying is hydronic, you'll need to talk to a plumber or your heating contractor about the feasibility of altering your system to accommodate it. The older the house, the older the pipes, and any movement needed to make changes could create problems in walls and floors. Request an installation manual and technical requirements from the dealer, so you can show your plumber.
An ounce of prevention: Hard-wiring an electric towel warmer could require rearranging or upgrading the wiring in your bathroom, so you need to be aware of any municipal codes governing such changes.
It's also likely that a ground-fault circuit interrupter will be needed. Jacuzzi's warming drawers, for example, require a dedicated GFCI - which all outlets in bathrooms and other damp areas should have anyway.
Plug-in towel warmers operate on standard 120-volt AC outlets, but you should have an electrician look at the outlets first, to make sure they work as they should.
Good advice: Most towel warmers won't boost your electric or heating bills noticeably, but you should still factor energy efficiency into your purchase equation.
Myson says its units come with self-regulating programmed temperature control. When the towel warmer reaches the required temperature, it reduces power consumption, saving up to 35 percent of the energy required and eliminating the need for a thermostat. Temperature rises evenly and stays constant once it is reached.
What will it cost? Prices range from about $160 for a warmer shelf to $4,000 and up for a specialty model.