It’s typical for the basement of your home to be cooler than the upper level(s) which can be quite the pleasant surprise during a hot, muggy summer season. However, during colder seasons, a chilly basement can really rain on your parade of laundry baskets and foosball tables while also increasing the overall home energy costs associated with heating the rest of your home. So how can you keep this space usable and comfortable for you and your family without the need for wearing a winter coat indoors while spending time in the basement or otherwise waiting for warmer days ahead? We have some answers for you, here.
Repair Air Leaks In Ductwork
If you are having trouble keeping your basement, or any part of your home warm, consider whether the problem might be due to heat from your heating system not reaching its intended area, or not reaching this area effectively. Air duct leaks can be a major source of this problem as air from the system can escape into building cavities before entering the spaces you need heated. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this problem: seal your air ducts using duct tape and mastic anywhere you see an opening, like in a duct seam or corner, or anywhere you feel warm air escaping along with your air duct system. Tape first, and then paint mastic over the tape to increase its longevity, seal, and overall performance.
Install a Subfloor
If a home has not gone through basement renovations, there’s a good chance your basement floor is bare concrete – cold, possibly damp, and probably not the most welcoming to your bare feet. If this is the case, you have the option of installing a slightly raised subfloor over a moisture barrier or using a product that combines the two.
This is a great way to immediately reduce the heat lost in your basement, as some subflooring products act to insulate and can even raise the temperature of your basement floor by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. An added benefit is that if you choose to finish your basement in the future, your subfloor will already be ready for you to do so.
Weatherize or Replace Drafty Windows
Older, poorly weatherized windows may be a major culprit of cold air intrusion or conduction in your basement. If you have a home built before 1980, it’s likely that you have single-pane windows which allow for faster heat transfer than their double- or triple-pane successors. In order to retain as much heat within your basement as possible, you may want to consider replacing your older basement windows with new, energy-efficient versions.
However, if you have upgraded windows and still experience a draft, or just need a faster fix than the large project of replacing windows, consider whether something can be done to weatherize your existing windows for greater energy efficiency, less heat loss, and less heat intrusion. You can use a can or two of foam sealant around windows (underneath your trim, and possibly underneath the existing drywall) where you feel a cold draft. Then caulk and weatherstrip your windows for minimal air intrusion.
Consider Radiant Floor Heating
Though a bit renovation-intensive, if you plan to finish your basement flooring or are able to choose this detail prior to your home being built, adding radiant floor heating to your basement is an excellent way to provide energy-efficient warmth to the space and make being barefoot in your home extremely comfortable. This is a wonderful choice, especially if you choose tile as your floor covering, but you can use radiant heat underwood and laminate, as well. You can choose from electric- or water-type under-floor heating systems. These systems allow for uniform distribution of heat throughout the space while doing away with dusty, inefficient forced air systems in the space you choose to use this technology.
Insulate, Insulate, Insulate.
If unfinished, it’s unlikely that your basement is very well insulated from the external environment. A somewhat obvious way to warm up the room is to prevent your basement from getting cold in the first place. This is where insulation comes in. There are many types of insulation out there, but one of the best choices for basements is spray foam insulation. This is because cellular foam insulation makes your basement walls, flooring, and ceiling impervious to water and air intrusion due to virtually zero seams and unmatched coverage. Foam insulation can get into every nook and crack and cover irregular shapes and surfaces tightly.
These types of areas make rigid insulation much less effective, as they can allow air and moisture behind the insulating board and allow air to pass through the seams, even after securing and taping. Additionally, foam insulation can be installed directly on concrete or other walls without any additional supporting accessories, like screws or nails. It is a bit costlier, but it also provides the best bang for your buck in terms of performance.
Invest in a Cozy Fireplace or Wood Stove
Adding a wood or pellet stove or cozy gas or electric fireplace to your basement area can provide a welcoming, inexpensive heat source for your basement. If you plan to spend a lot of time in your basement, this option adds to the livability and overall atmosphere of the space and requires only simple modifications or renovations. If you live in a colder climate, gas or a stove might be the best option for energy efficiency reasons. If you do not have access to a gas line and don’t wish to put one in, then an electric fireplace is simple to use and will still take the chill away from your basement.