Basements didn’t start out actually needing heat in the early construction of American homes. Basements were often used as storage places for unused equipment, and functioned often as food storage rooms. You could find canned goods, bags of vegetables, and salted or sugar cured meats in basements during the 17,18, and 19th centuries.
After being used as storage places and with the advent of furnaces, boilers, indoor plumbing and HVAC systems, we began to see these things assigned to the basement. In addition, the basement began to take on its own personality as a “man cave,” a home office, a recreation room, an additional living area for a relative, or a place to rent out to make extra money.
Providing the Heat
Since the basement has become a dwelling place for people, it has required the use of bathrooms, kitchens, fireplaces, and heat. So, what are some efficient ways to keep this potentially high humidity area warm?
One of the things you can do is have your HVAC provider include the basement in the system of ducts leading from your HVAC unit to the rest of the house. It is possible to calculate tonnage, length of ducts, and required systems for the basement also. If you are outfitting your basement after the initial installation of your HVAC system or furnace, then you will definitely want to hire an HVAC contractor to determine all facets of the extra space to be heated.
The least complicated way to heat your basement is to simply purchase one or more space heaters that have the ability to heat the square footage. If you or your family do not spend a great deal of time in the basement, then space heaters will provide the heat you need, when you need it.
Woodburning stoves are an excellent choice for basements. The heat given off by the wood burning is a healthy type of heat and the aesthetics can be pleasing. You will have to do a bit more work to keep it burning and to clean up afterwards. You will also have to make sure the stove is vented properly. Wood can be inexpensive and the stove can also serve as a social gathering place which enhances the appeal of the basement atmosphere.
Install floor heaters during your initial build. These below the floor heaters often use heated water to keep the underflooring and floor warm. It is a nice touch to a cold, winter’s day. Since hot air rises, the heat will not only keep the floor warm, but the rest of the air will be warmed also.
If you have the electrical circuitry to accomplish this, then the installation of baseboard heating may be the way to go. They are simple to install and can be placed in areas where heat is crucial.
In addition to providing the direct heat you will need for the basement, there are also some other things you can do to create a basement space that is more conducive to the warming process.
Consider installing a carpet in the basement along with an insulating underflooring. This will reduce cold air coming into the space from the ground.
Make sure you have sealed all the areas where air may leak to the outside. You will want to inspect around doors, windows and vents. Check for cracks and gaps in walls.
You can add more insulation to the ceiling and walls of the basement. This will lessen the demand for heat inside the basement.
Install windows that are airtight and prevent warm air from escaping.
Purchase a space heater or install a wall panel convection heater. This is a flat heater that attaches to the wall. It draws cold air from the floor area, warms it, and then recirculates it back into the room.