Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

 

Going Underground: Keeping Your Basement Warm This Winter

 

Source: www.energystar.gov
Basement
If you are like many homeowners, your basement contains a lot of space that gets little use in winter because it is colder than the rest of the house. Did you know that heat loss in your basement may be adding to your energy bill as well? Fortunately, there are a variety of things you can do to make your basement a more inviting place to spend time and reduce your heating costs as well. Start by examining your basement; check for cold spots, mold, and other sources of potential heat loss. The following tips can help:

 

Add insulation. A properly insulated basement can save you money on heating and provide a dry, comfortable living space. A variety of insulation types are available. For an unfinished basement, blanket (batt) or foam board insulation is a good choice, while loose-fill or spray foam products can be used to add insulation to an already finished space. R-Value measures the thermal performance of insulation products. To determine the appropriate insulation level for basement walls in your area, see R-Value Recommendations from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Seal air leaks. A substantial amount of warm air can leak out of gaps and cracks in the rim joists (where the joists in your basement meet the foundation), as well as plumbing and wiring holes on outside walls. Caulk is best for sealing gaps or cracks that are 1/4 inch or less. Use spray foam insulation to fill gaps from 1/4 inch to approximately 3 inches. Fill larger gaps with cut pieces of batt insulation.

Check crawl space. If you have a crawl space, make sure it is properly sealed and insulated. See Crawl Space Insulation from the U.S. Department of Energy for more information.

Install carpet. Basements often have cement or tile-covered floors. If you do not have moisture problems, consider installing carpet in basement living areas. This will give the floor warmth and feel better on your feet. For work rooms and laundry rooms, consider putting a rug down with a pad underneath.

Replace windows. If you have old, cracked, single pane windows in your basement, you are reducing comfort and increasing your energy bill at the same time. Replace old windows with glass block or ENERGY STAR certified high-performance windows. If you choose not to replace your older windows, seal them from the outside with caulk and winterize them from the inside using a window insulation kit purchased at your local hardware or do-it-yourself retailer.   

Add a heating vent. You can tap into your existing ductwork and install a vent to add central heating to your basement. You might also want to consider a return air vent in finished areas. It is possible to do this yourself, but you may want to consult a heating and cooling professional; tapping into existing ductwork may have an impact on the performance of your overall heating and cooling system.  

Use space heating. If you do not want to add vents for central heating, electric space heaters are a great way to add supplemental heat in smaller areas, such as a laundry room or work room. For a finished space, an electric fireplace is a good option. They combine the warmth and beauty of a traditional fireplace without the mess and they can be turned on and off instantly.

To help make sure your entire house stays warm and cozy throughout the season, see Is Your Home Ready for Winter?.

Appalachian Power offers a free home energy assessment. A professionally trained energy specialist will come to your home and help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. 

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