Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

6 Steps to a Warmer Basement

BasementDoes your basement leave you cold in the winter? If you're like many homeowners, your lower level doesn't get much use until the weather gets warm. Heat loss in your basement may be adding to your energy bills as well. Fortunately, things may be looking up. Here are six ways to make your basement a more inviting place to spend time and reduce heating costs. 

  1. Add insulation. A well-insulated basement reduces heating costs and makes for a comfortable living space. A variety of insulation types are available. Fiberglass batt insulation is a good choice for unfinished basements, while blow-in products can be used to add insulation to a finished space. SeeResidential Prescriptive Requirements for energy-saving insulation level recommendations in your area.
  2. Seal air leaks. Warm air can leak out of gaps and cracks in the rim joists, where the wall meets the ceiling, as well as plumbing and wiring holes on outside walls. Caulk is best for sealing gaps or cracks that are 1/4 inch or smaller. Use spray foam insulation to fill gaps up to 3 inches. Fill larger gaps by cutting and stuffing pieces of insulation.
  3. 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.
  4. Install carpet. Basements often have cement or tile-covered floors. If you do not have moisture problems, consider installing carpet in basement living areas. It will make the floor feel warmer and cozier beneath your feet. For work rooms and laundry rooms, consider putting a rug down with a pad underneath.
  5. Replace windows. If you have older single pane windows in your basement, it's highly likely they are reducing comfort and increasing your energy bills. Install 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 available at your local hardware or DIY retailer.
  6. Stay warm with extra heat. While it won't reduce your energy bill, tapping into your existing ductwork and installing a vent can add central heating to your basement, making it more comfortable. A space heater or electric fireplace can provide supplemental heating to a small space, such as a laundry room or play room.

With a little extra effort, you can lower your energy costs and create a comfortable space for your family to find refuge on cold winter days.

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