How To Make Your Basement Warmer This Winter

By Alex Williams | Indoor Living

Aug 24
electric space heater

A basement that’s warm can be a nice place to be when it’s cold outside. Aside from being uncomfortable, a cold basement raises a homeowner’s energy costs. To make basements warmer, property owners can choose from a number of solutions.

1. Apply Insulating Products to Ducts

Ducts for dryers or bathroom fans that generally made of flimsy, uninsulated aluminum or plastic, They let in unnecessary cold let cold air unless they’re replaced with insulated ducts made especially dryer or the fans ducts too are covered with insulating material.

Also, the vents coursing from inside the home to the outside are a pathway for cold air to enter. Homeowners can have a draft blocker for a dryer vent installed. It works by using a floating shuttle that lifts up when hot air blows through the vent and closing when the dryer is not in operation.

2. Separate the Unheated Area

People don’t usually work or entertain in areas where the furnace, washer/dryer and hot water heater are located. They can block off that “dead space” that’s not using for living  by erecting an insulated wall to seal the section off.

3. Pay Attention to Rim Joists

At the rim joists, a considerable amount of cold air enters the basement. Insulation experts say that in some cases more cold air enters a home from here than from windows. In many older homes, these building members are uninsulated, with only sheathing and siding between them and cold air. That isn’t enough protection.

The rim joist is the edge of the framing for a wood floor. It rests atop the walls of the foundation and is secured to the sill plate. When insulating the these joists, it’s also suggested that the top of the concrete wall where the sill plate rests be sealed.

Rigid foam and/or spray foam is used to insulate them. After sealing out the air, a safety check must be performed on appliances to ensure there are no back drafts, which could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

4. Find and Seal Drafty Areas

If the basement walls are already insulated and if there are still drafty areas, inspect for openings around pipes and wiring. Insulate these areas, using caulk for gaps that are one-quarter inch or less and spray foam for ones up to 3 inches. For larger spaces, use batt insulation. Homeowners who have crawlspaces should inspect them and seal and insulate when necessary.

5. Cover Floors

Bare concrete floors are porous and let cold air penetrate. Tile the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting. The thicker the carpet, the better it insulates. For small areas such as a laundry room, a rug will help warm up the area. Always use a pad underneath carpeting or a rug.

6. Add Portable or Permanent Heat

If the area to be heated is no more than around 800 square feet, consider an electric, radiant or ceramic heater. Space heaters are a great way to keep the basement warm. Another option is a pellet stove. A unit of medium size can heat up to 1,750 square feet. While it is not cheap, it can give years of service.

This stove burns pellets made of compressed scrap wood and other environmentally friendly products. This heat source requires a separate flue, filling the hopper and occasional cleaning of the chimney and emptying of the wood box.

Unless there is a battery backup, a pellet stove is only operational when the power to the house is on. For safety, it should not be left unattended for long periods. Despite some of the work involved, homeowners who like to interact with their heating system will like this choice.

7. Add Registers

Homeowners with central heat may want to call in an HVAC company to discuss whether adding registers for the basement is an option. The technician will check to make sure that the addition won’t disrupt the pressure within the system. Upsetting it could result in a breakdown that requires repair.

8. Inspect Windows

It’s no secret that old windows are not energy efficient. The federal government reports that ENERGY STAR-certified windows lower residential energy bills across the nation by about 12 percent on average. For basements that have windows, replacement of old ones is an action to consider. An alternative to window replacement is to caulk windows on the outside and use a window insulation kit for them on the inside.

9. Insulate the Ceiling

If the space above the basement is unheated, consider insulating the ceiling of the basement. This will keep more warm air in the basement from migrating to the unheated area.  A common material for this job is batt or roll insulation. Sold in rolls, it is  usually made of fiberglass. Insulate with materials that have an ENERGY STAR-certified R-Value of at least 20. R-Value is a measure of how well relevant products insulate. The certification comes from either the Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Energy.

Homeowners who want a comfy basement have options to fit their budgets. Some projects can be tackled by do-it-yourselfers, although safety for the home and property owner must weighed when considering the DIY project. Companies specializing in energy efficiency are ready to help property owners get a basement that they will love to relax, live and work in.