Many homeowners disregard their Michigan basement in the winter, even when it’s finished. Sure, the subterranean construction helps keep it cool in the summer, but it also makes it a bit brisk over the winter months. If you’ve finished your basement, you may have considered whether you should attempt basement heating, and your options to do so.
Whether your basement is finished or not, there is good reason to pay attention to its heating and insulation. Here is some information on tending to your basement’s heating, why it’s important, and options you may want to consider.
Why Basement Heating Matters
Most people don’t consider their basement to be a significant source of energy loss. However, basements can lose a lot of energy in cracks in the foundation, not to mention design elements that let the cooler air into your space. This includes vents for your dryer, egress windows, plus plumbing and ventilation moving from your basement into your main living spaces. Not only does this affect the heat in your basement directly, but also causes your HVAC system to run more to heat the rest of your home. Tending to your basement will ultimately help keep both your basement more comfortable and reduce your heating expenses.
Taking Care of Basement Insulation First
The very first step to managing the heat in your basement is properly insulating your space. While the first area you may think about are your walls, studies have shown very little difference when adding insulation against the exterior walls, thanks to the natural insulation the ground provides. Rather, the most important place to insulate is the space between the ceiling of your basement and the floor above. The most effective forms of insulation for this space is either spray foam or frame insulation. You’ll want to find insulation rated R-30 to effectively seal in your basement. Next, make sure you’ve sealed windows and doors with exterior access.
Servicing Your Basement Through Your Furnace
If you’ve decided to add heat to your basement, the questions begin to circle about the most effective way to do that. The easiest and least costly solution is to use your current furnace to pump some heat into your basement. However, it requires more than simply adding a vent and letting the heat flow.
Rather, your basement will likely add a substantial amount of space to your furnace’s service area. You’ll want to make sure your furnace is appropriately sized to handle the additional space. Running your furnace for too large of an area will lead to additional strain on your unit, raising both your utility and repair bills.
Radiant Floor Heating
Another popular option for basements is radiant floor heating, which uses either electric wiring or a hot water system to warm the floor itself. This can be a great way to add enough heat to your basement without making it overwhelming. However, radiant floor heating usually means replacing the flooring in your basement, on its own makes it an expensive endeavor.
Additionally, radiant floor heating typically means a separate heat source than your primary furnace. On its own, this makes running this kind of basement heating less efficient than adding it on to your existing system.
Wood Burning and Gas Options
In some cases, you may have an opportunity to tie into a chimney or flue. When these opportunities present themselves, you may want to explore wood or gas-burning options. This may be great for adding to the ambiance of your Michigan basement, such as a wood-burning stove or a gas fireplace. However, it is easy to overheat your basement if you’re not careful, making the space stuffy plus making heating the rest of the home inefficient.
Space Heater Options
The other most common option people explore are space heaters, with electric space heaters being one of the most popular. These can range from small space ceramic heaters to units that run along the baseboard.
First, if you’re going to look at a space heater, be sure you only look at electric models. Trying to use a fuel burning heater, such as LP or kerosene, poses a substantial health risk due to carbon monoxide.
Second, consider the efficiency of these options. If you only want to use your basement space occasionally, these may get the job done without the expense of a more permanent solution. However, of all the heating options you could explore, space heaters are generally the least efficient, costing you more in the long-run in your utility bills with regular use.