Author Topic: Heating Basement in Winter  (Read 21678 times)

StangStache

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Heating Basement in Winter
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:18:12 AM »
Hi all,

I am renting a mid-century ranch home with an unfinished basement/attached garage.  Both the basement and the first floor have vents that I can open or close.  Last winter, I closed off the vents in the basement, figuring it's more efficient to just heat the first floor (unless I am working downstairs on a car or in my workshop, in which case I would just open up a vent or two).   It turns out the floor was always very cold and, even with warm slippers, it was uncomfortable to walk around, so I opened a few vents in the basement.  It got me thinking about heat rising.

Since heat rises, is heating the basement not as inefficient as I think?  To some degree, the heat coming up from the basement and through the floor does act as primitive radiant floor heating.   My basement is concrete and does have a few small windows. 

Anyway, I'd like to hear what others do.  Do you heat your lower floors in the winter?  Heat is a huge expense of mine ($2500/year), as this place has oil heat. 

I am also trying to figure out how to use electric space heaters to save money (i.e. keep house at 60, space heater in the office/bedroom, etc.).   Any information on this is appreciated. 

Greg

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2014, 09:29:44 AM »
Heat doesn't rise, hot air does.  Heat radiates toward cold though.  So, most of the heat in the basement is radiating into the walls and floor, and some up to the living area.

You'd do much better closing off the basement registers and insulating the floor.  This after insulating the water lines and heat ducts.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2014, 09:36:11 AM »
If the house is older and leaky the cold air that leaks in the cracks will settle on the floor and result in cold feet.  My inlaws have an old drafty house, even if the heat is set on 70+ one's feet are still cold.  Try sealing up everything you can both upstairs and in the basement, it'll certainly save on the bill and probably help warm your feet, too! Hot water bottles are great, too....   

MayDay

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2014, 09:43:07 AM »
We've never heated the basement. Our old 60's ranch had insulation between the basement and main level, so ot wouldn't have made much difference.

I'm surprised the floor feels cold even with warm slippers and socks. We keep our house at 60 much of the time (it bumps up to 65 for an hour in the morning) and I definitely have to wear socks + slippers, and often I go for quite thick socks.  But that does keep them warm unless I am completely sedentary.

For the space heater, I'm still working that out. One bedroom in our house gets quite cold, so I think we will try a space heater on a timer from 6-8 pm or something, to warm it up for my son. It seems like it stays warm enough all night, until the heat kicks on at 5 am. I had borrowed a killawatt this summer and had to return it, so I need to get ahold of one again to test the space heater.


Future Lazy

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2014, 10:13:16 AM »
I live in the closed, ventilated and unfinished basement of a very drafty house. My landlady keeps the upstairs heated somewhat during the winter, but not above 55 degrees fahrenheit, since we're all more the type to use more blankets instead of more heat. That being said, I find that most of the winter (Colorado, dry but with overnight temps of below zero), the basement is usually warmer than the upstairs with no extra help.

I recommend doing research about ambient ground temperatures in your area to figure out what the winter ground temps are going to be, and that should give you a good idea of what the temperature is going to be in your basement without heating. Then, if the temperatures you research are too low for your tastes, I would go from there.

Hope this helps. : )

StangStache

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2014, 10:54:34 AM »
Thanks, all, for the replies.

Since I am renting this place, I can't really put any work into insulation, unless there is a cheap, temporary way to do the pipes maybe. 

Regarding the cold floor, I think it's mostly the part of the first floor that's above the garage.  The ceiling here is different (concrete I think?), where as the rest of the basement has a wooden ceiling. 

The house is not quite a split level, but the basement garage opens on the side of the hill the house is built on.  The basement probably dips 7 feet underground.  It's definitely cooler than upstairs in the summer.  Not sure how warm it would be from ground temps in the winter, but it definitely gets cold if I close the registers. 


GuitarStv

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2014, 11:11:28 AM »
Our basement is well insulated and finished.  In the winter I close the vents on the 2nd floor and open the ones in the basement/main floor.  In the summer I do the reverse (open on 2nd floor and main, closed in the basement).  It works well to keep the temperature uniform through the house.

frugalnacho

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2014, 11:49:39 AM »
All vents are closed in my unfinished basement year round.  The basement seems to regulate it's own temperature pretty well. Stays nice and cool in the summer, and stays about 65* in the winter regardless of what the furnace is set to.  Come to think of it the basement always seems to be 65-70 no matter what (although I don't actively track the temperature).  We keep our thermostat set to 60/64 and wear slippers and sweat shirts and feel fine. 

Greg

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2014, 07:42:35 PM »
Since I am renting this place, I can't really put any work into insulation, unless there is a cheap, temporary way to do the pipes maybe.

Do you pay utilities? Check with your electric utility, in my area they offer rebates for insulation that make the cost negligible.  The insulation contractors that I use for design/build know what programs are available and can recommend accordingly.  They get paid directly by the utility. Worth looking into!

StangStache

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Re: Heating Basement in Winter
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2014, 03:04:08 PM »
Since I am renting this place, I can't really put any work into insulation, unless there is a cheap, temporary way to do the pipes maybe.

Do you pay utilities? Check with your electric utility, in my area they offer rebates for insulation that make the cost negligible.  The insulation contractors that I use for design/build know what programs are available and can recommend accordingly.  They get paid directly by the utility. Worth looking into!

That's a great idea.  I do pay utilities, so I will have to look into that.