Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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Especially if you’re living in an older home, you may find your cold kitchen a nuisance. Many factors could cause this, but the largest is that they’re just often not built for heat retention.
The largest causes of a cold kitchen are its doors and windows. These account for 10% of most heat lost in homes, and this number can rise with old or improperly insulated homes.
So how can you get your cold kitchen to warm up? There are plenty of options ranging from cheap and easy fixes to full renovation-requiring home upgrades. Let’s break them down, shall we?
While there are often many factors that could affect your home’s heat retention, one key part to take into account is the age of your home. If your home was built before the turn of the century, it’s likely that it wasn’t built with central heating in mind.
Generally, when building homes in the early-mid twentieth century, workers would plan on the kitchen naturally being the warmest room in the home. Without all of the easy meals available today, tenants had to spend a much longer time in the kitchen with their stove or oven running. This would often lead to heat naturally building up.
This means that many older homes are poorly insulated and often don’t even have ducts for central heating. In addition to the actual makeup of the home, you’ll have to worry about windows and doors - especially those leading outside.
As most of us know, windows are a common place to lose heat in your home; it’s just a fact of life. But if your kitchen is open and doesn’t have a door between it and the next room that’s allowing any heat that may have built up in the kitchen to escape to other rooms.
Luckily, there are many ways that you can plan to keep your kitchen cosy. Let’s start with the more affordable methods, shall we?
If you’re noticing a draft coming from your (closed) windows, it may be time to have someone take a look at them. But, if like me, you’re cheap and don’t want to do that (or simply can’t, no shame here), then there are some temporary fixes you can use to deal with the draft.
In this instance, curtains and sun are the names of the game. Now, as we all know, the sun is hot (I know, it’s a huge surprise). This means that using the sun, especially with south-facing windows, can greatly boost the warmth in your cold kitchen. Unfortunately, we can’t always count on the sun to provide heat - and that’s where curtains come in.
A heavy curtain set will allow you to retain heat inside your home and keep any drafts limited to the space directly next to your windows. While it may get chilly right next to your window, you shouldn’t notice a difference in temperature or, more importantly, in your heating bill.
Consider using weighted or blackout curtains as they’ll provide the best effect. And if the windows are in an area that is unlikely to be seen by guests, you can even use electrical tape to secure the curtains to the wall. While it may not look the best, you will see up to a 25% increase in heat retention when doing so.
Consider trying something like blackout blinds first, as they’ll only run you roughly £45-50 and are designed to retain heat.
If you’re curious about the numbers involved, so are researchers! This study by the University of Salford shows that proper use of blinds and insulation can affect heat retention anywhere from 10-25% (or more) in your home.
If you have an open kitchen design, this could be another cause of your kitchen getting cold. Luckily, this is a relatively easy fix!
If you have an open entryway or door frame with no door, it may be best to consider filling that space. Heat likes to try and escape, and it’ll take any avenue it can. Consider using a curtain similar to what you may have chosen for your windows for an affordable and modern look to the room.
Options like this blackout door curtain (£18.45) will allow an easy traffic flow without allowing heat to escape. Of course, you can always opt to install an actual door, but you may want to consider adding an under-door draft stopper (£7.93) to ensure heat remains where it should.
Now there are three methods to heat your kitchen without fully stripping the room down and re-insulating the thing. The best (and most expensive) is underfloor heating - but we’ll get to that.
The two more affordable methods are radiators and plinth heaters. These are relatively easy to install yourself and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get your cold kitchen nice and cosy.
These are the heaters that you likely grew up with. You know - bare metal, loud, and often incredibly hot and heavy? The nice thing is that time has afforded less miserable models than the ones your grandparents had, and they’re often not too expensive.
You can get a good number of radiators for a relatively cheap cost. They'll generally run you £50-90 for a decent portable one on Amazon, and they'll certainly do the job. Now, there are countless models around that you can find that range in cost and performance.
But as always - pick what’s best for you . Perhaps a plinth heater would suit your needs better?
Considering most kitchens will have hard, cold flooring such as tiles or hardwood, having heat at the floor level is important to keep your toes comfy. This is where plinth heaters come into play. They'll get your cold kitchen floors toasty in no time - just be sure to put them in places you stand regularly.
For the uninitiated, a plinth heater is essentially a small heating unit installed near the floor (usually under cabinets). While they come in countless forms, there are generally three styles of power for them - gas, hydronic, and electric.
Electric plinths, on the other hand, can generally be installed much more easily. There will still be some work required, but you won’t need to hook it into any of your home’s systems. However, keep in mind that electric plinths also don’t always ship with the proper electrical connectors, so you may need to buy an adaptor.
The best part about these is that they require much less space and installation work than other heating options while still providing a good amount of heat. They also generally cost less than other methods up front, which is a nice bonus. For example, you can pay £64.99 for this electric heater that will sit happily under your sink or stove and take up minimal space.
Now onto the most expensive and generally enjoyable form of heating! Let’s get the important thing out of the way - this is very expensive compared to our other options. Depending on the type of underfloor heating you choose and your home’s existing framework, you can be looking at anywhere from £2,000-11,000 for labour and materials.
Electric underfloor heating will cost less for both materials and labour, while water heating will take longer to set up and cost much more on average. However, the costs of these systems will also range in how your home is set up. If you’re renovating an old house, you will likely need to purchase a new thermostat and improve your insulation - both of which will add to the cost.
In general, you can expect a water-heated system to cost roughly double what an electrical system will - though the electrical system will cost more in the long run as electricity is expensive .
If you’re considering underfloor heating, be sure to shop around and get quotes from several installers - prices can change, and it’s better to do your homework than to be upset by discovering you could have paid thousands less for the same work from another person. While a cold kitchen isn't ideal, neither is a massive bill.
If you’re noticing a draft in your kitchen or are simply getting too chilly while cooking, there are a lot of options to choose from. It’s always best to try and start with simple fixes like securing windows and entryways to prevent a draft (curtains work great here) before moving onto actual heating solutions.
But if you’re certain that you’re going to need additional heat in the kitchen, plinth heaters and radiators are the most affordable and easy-to-install options available. If, however, you’re not working on a budget, underfloor heating may be the choice for you. It will add value to your home and, more importantly, keep your toes nice and toasty.
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