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Basement Finishing: Heating Considerations to Make

Should you heat your basement? Heating a basement is a cost-effective way to increase comfortable living space, protect your home from mold and increase home value. While many homeowners choose not to heat their basement because of additional heating costs, a warmer basement can mean a warmer house overall. Not only will the cost difference be minimal but you can look forward to creating more living space in your home that is perfect for a home gym, office, kids’ play area and more.

Here we will look at basement heating options for your home and the benefits you can expect from a heated basement. We will also look at considerations for how to enclose your heating system and how a heated basement affects home value.

In this blog we will look at:

  • Basement Heating Options
  • Should You Enclose Your Heating System?
  • Remodeling Options for Furnaces in the Middle of a Basement
  • Benefits of a Heated Basement
  • Will Basement Heating and Cooling Add to Home Value?
  • How to Get Started with Heating Your Basement

 

Related Article: What is the Cost of Kitchen Renovations in Toronto?

 

Basement Heating Options

    • When Building a New Home: If you are building a new home, it is highly recommended that you choose to fit your basement with the necessary components to heat it. This means laying the framework with proper ducts, ventilation and a unit powerful enough to heat both the upstairs and basement of your home. This is often a good idea even if you do not plan to use your basement as a living space. Setting your basement up for heating now will be much more cost-efficient and simpler than attempting to remodel and retrofit later.
    • When Retrofitting a Home: While an older home may be more difficult to heat, you do have several options when remodeling. Here are some considerations and issues you may encounter when choosing heating for your basement remodel:
  • Extending Existing Ductwork: The most common and simplest way to heat most basements is to simply add vents to existing ductwork. 
  • Pros: This solution is quick and efficient. It will increase home value, heat your whole basement with ease, and not require additional floor space for another HVAC unit. Additionally, if you want to rent a room in your basement, connecting heating and cooling is part of what will determine if your basement is classified as a finished living space. 
  • Cons: This method does not provide an independent thermostat to control the temperature in the basement. Instead, you will need to close vents to redirect air. Your current HVAC system may also not be powerful enough to heat the additional space. However, if you have a powerful enough heating system, this is usually the best and most recommended way to heat your basement.
      • Stand Alone Heaters Connected to the Main Heating System: By creating proper ventilation, you can connect stand alone units that will concentrate heat in the basement. Pros and Cons of this type include:
        • Pros: These types of heaters are affordable, easy to install, can heat most basements, and do not require you to upgrade your existing HVAC system.
        • Cons: Stand alone units are fairly large and are not very aesthetically pleasing. If your basement is small, these units may not be as good of a solution as extending your existing HVAC system to your basement.
  • Space Heaters: Space heaters are heating units that plug into a wall and run on electricity.
  • Pros: Space heaters are affordable and very simple to operate and install. They also have their own thermostat and will not affect the temperature in other parts of your home.
  • Cons: Space heaters are often not powerful enough to heat a whole basement efficiently. You may need more than one unit if you have multiple rooms in your basement. Also, while the initial cost of a space heater is low, the energy required to heat a whole basement is less efficient than using a central heating system. Most importantly, space heaters do pose increased risk of a fire.
  • Baseboard Heaters: Baseboard heaters are specially designed heating units that run along the wall and heat individual rooms. Space saving varieties will be hardwired into your home’s electrical system while portable versions will plug into the wall.
  • Pros: While more expensive than space heaters, baseboard heaters are safer. They also control where heat is distributed and can be turned on or off in individual rooms.
  • Cons: Baseboard heaters, especially plug-in ones, will take up a lot of wall and/or floor space. They are also not efficient for heating a whole basement. Additionally, they are safer than other space heaters but can still pose some risk.
  • Pellet Stoves: One of the most unique options, a pellet stove is a stand alone unit that burns wood pellets to create warm air.
  • Pros: Pellet stoves are eco-friendly and burn recycled materials.
  • Cons: While pellets are usually affordable, they may not be as readily available in some areas. Additionally, the requirement to store a fuel source means that the pellets will take up space.

Consider a Combination of Heating Methods: While incorporated heating that connects to the main heating system is most efficient, it does have drawbacks. Primarily, the temperature can only be controlled from the upstairs thermostat. Putting a thermostat sensor in the basement could cause the heating system to read the temperature as too cold and increase the temperature upstairs. Similarly, having the sensor upstairs means the basement will likely be several degrees cooler.

One of the best ways to handle this is to combine two or more methods of heating. Ideally, you will connect your basement to the main heating system then use one of the other methods to increase heat in individual areas of your basement.

Consider getting a baseboard heater or space heater and using it only when you are down in the basement. This will let you get the heat you need in the basement without blasting the heat upstairs. Practice caution by turning off the space heater any time you will not be occupying the room or when you are sleeping.

 

Related Article: Basement Renovations in Toronto: Steps You Need to Take

 

Should You Enclose Your Heating System?

If your basement does not have heating and cooling, you likely do not spend a great deal of time there. As such, you probably do not take much notice of the heating system that resides down there, working to warm the upper floors of your home. However, should you add heating, your basement will become a much more pleasant space and your furnace may now seem unsightly.

To remedy this, many homeowners choose to build a closet or enclosure around their HVAC system. This area can be accessed through a ventilated door that will fit with the rest of your decor. If the enclosure is built large enough, this can also serve as an additional storage area. Considerations for your enclosure:

  • An HVAC system enclosure requires approved ventilation and you should not attempt to simply build walls around the unit without professional help.
  • While an HVAC enclosure can be used for additional storage, you must take care to not store flammable materials in this area.
  • Your HVAC system should not be blocked off in any way by items you are storing. Ideally, you should keep the area directly around the system clear of all other materials. It should have a clear perimeter of at least 80 cm.
  • If you do want to use the area for storage, this must be considered before building in order to leave enough space to safely fit both the heating system and additional items.
  • There may be restrictions on how you can enclose your heating system based on city ordinances. Experienced contractors and HVAC experts will help you determine what is right for your home and system.
  • Make an enclosure part of your basement finishing or remodel project for the most efficient and cost-effective options. Your contractor can more easily incorporate an enclosure into a new project than trying to backtrack and add it later after other elements have been added. However, if you have already had a remodel and want to add an enclosure later, this is still very much an option.

Remodeling Options for Furnaces in the Middle of a Basement

A simple closet or curtains like we discussed in the last section work well for furnaces that are tucked in a corner but what if your furnace is out in the middle of your basement? For many homeowners, this can make basement finishing and remodeling difficult because the furnace dominates the look of the room.

For projects like this, a decorative enclosure can be used to mask your furnace and enhance your decor. An enclosure made of elegant wood slats provides ventilation while also adding warmth and color to a room.

When incorporated properly, a middle-of-the-room furnace enclosure can act as a room divider. Decorate it with art work or use it as a way to section off an entertainment area from a home office. Many times, an awkwardly placed furnace is the perfect inspiration for a multi-use basement.

Benefits of a Heated Basement

Preserving Storage: For many homeowners, the basement is little more than a storage area or laundry room. If this is the case for your home, heating might not seem that important. However, having a temperature-controlled basement can often be beneficial for many items. For example, heating can help to keep damp, musty smells out of any cloth items stored in your basement.

Mold Control: Mold growth is extremely common in basements. The often dark, damp conditions create the perfect environment for mold growth. While it might seem that cold temperatures would reduce this, they can sometimes make it worse. With the cold weather, your basement walls will be cold while air coming from your home will be warmer and more humid. When the cold walls connect with the warm air, condensation can form and increase mold growth. Heating your basement will keep the walls warm and reduce condensation.

Expand Your Living Space without Moving: While you may not have plans to use your basement for anything but storage right now, installing heating and other basic finishing elements will ensure the space is ready when you need it. A finished basement can serve as a home office, gym, play area, guess quarters and much more. For many homeowners, this can be the space they’ve always needed but did not realize it was already in their own home.

Reduce Cold Air in Your Home: A freezing cold basement could be contributing to chilly conditions in the rest of your home. Specifically, it could be making your floors colder. If you have tile, linoleum or wood floors this can make your flooring unbearably cold during winter months as they will be less insulated from the cold just beneath them.

Save Energy: While cold floors might be the most readily noticeable, the temperature throughout your home could also be affected by a cold basement. This is because heat can escape and cold air can come through poorly sealed ductwork in your basement. An extra cold basement can affect the temperature throughout your home and impact your comfort and heating bill.

Will Basement Heating and Cooling Add to Home Value?

Basement heating can increase the home value if you choose to add vents to your basement which connect to the main heating and cooling system. Any other form of heating such as a stand-alone heater will not count towards home value. If you should choose to sell your home, you can generally expect to recoup roughly 70% of what you spent on basement finishing. Toronto homeowners, for example, who spend $10,000 on a finishing project will likely add around $7,000 to the resale value of their home.

Several factors can affect this including the area you live in and what potential buyers are looking for. Buyers who have their hearts set on a finished basement for a home gym or home office will be willing to pay more than buyers who planned to just use a basement for storage.

However, even without increased resale value, most homeowners still find basement finishing and heating to be extremely beneficial and worth the cost. With a heated and finished basement you can greatly increase your living space.

Add a home office for better work/life balance options while reducing the distractions of working from home. Finished basements are also ideal for kids and teens. Your basement is a place that gives kids their own space while keeping them still safely at home. A home gym, art studio, crafting room, or increased storage area are all great uses for a heated basement.

How to Get Started With Heating Your Basement

Heating your basement can be an easy, straightforward part of basement finishing, remodeling or renovation. With professional help from Basement Finishing Company, we can help you choose the best heating options for your basement.

Contact our expert basement finishing contractors at 647-370-9448 to get started with a consultation. Contact Basement Finishing Company today!

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