How To Heat A Basement Efficiently (Try These 6 Things!)

Jessica Allen
by Jessica Allen

Basements tend to be cooler than the rest of the house, and deciding how to heat them can be tricky. Should you extend your current system or invest in a new one? What’s the most efficient way to heat the basement?

Options for efficiently heating your basement include extending your home’s existing internal heating system or installing new heating methods. You could choose hardwired baseboard heaters, a natural gas fireplace, a wood pellet stove, electric space heaters, or subfloor heating. It may be best to combine multiple heating methods to efficiently heat your basement, depending on your heating needs.

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Extended HVAC System

One of the best options for efficiently heating your basement is to extend your home’s existing internal heating system. Installing a cold air return as well is also a good idea. This is because it removes the cold air in the bottom half of the room. That air is then recycled in the furnace to produce more warm air.

Contact an HVAC expert to handle the extension of the ductwork and installation of the cold air return. Extending your home’s HVAC system shouldn’t be a DIY project unless you have experience with heating and air conditioning systems.

Pros Of Extending HVAC System

Of all the options for heating your basement, extending the HVAC system is the best for maintaining your home’s value. Plus, it doesn’t take up extra space and is essentially invisible.

Cons Of Extending HVAC System

The downside to extending your HVAC system is that sometimes it can require an entirely new or improved system. You may need to open up walls in your home to install the needed ductwork.

In addition, it’s difficult to separate heating zones. This means that it’s nearly impossible to heat only the basement. If you’re heating the basement, then you’re going to be heating the rest of the house as well.

Hardwired Baseboard Heaters

Another choice for heating your basement is baseboard heaters. You can choose between convection and hydronic variations. There are also plug-in electric baseboard heaters.

In general, baseboard heaters are long, prominent, and run the length of your walls. A good amount of planning is required, depending on how large your basement is and how much heat you need.

You’ll need to install at least one baseboard heater in each room since the heat doesn’t travel. Be sure to contact an electrician to do the hardwiring for you.

Pros Of Hardwired Baseboard Heaters

A benefit of hardwired baseboard heaters is that you can sequester the heat into the places where it is needed. It’s a flexible option with no external venting.

Baseboard heaters are generally inexpensive to buy and install. They’re considered energy-efficient as well.

Cons Of Hardwired Baseboard Heaters

Although baseboard heaters are cheap to buy and install, they use a lot of energy. This means an increase in your electric bill.

In addition, hardwired baseboard heaters take up quite a bit of wall space. They’re not the most aesthetically pleasing heating option, either.

Natural Gas Fireplace

You might also want to consider using a natural gas fireplace to heat your basement. You can decide between a built-in or a standalone model.

Some natural gas fireplaces have vents to the outside. There are also vent-free options. However, without a vent, natural gas fireplaces begin to deplete the oxygen in the room.

Vent-free natural gas fireplaces typically turn off automatically when oxygen falls below 18% in the room. However, it’s worth noting that vent-free fireplaces aren’t sold in some countries because the oxygen depletion can be hazardous.

Pros Of Natural Gas Fireplaces

One of the greatest assets of natural gas fireplaces is their appearance. Fireplaces can add an elegant or rustic look to your basement, depending on the style you choose.

Compared to a wood-burning fireplace, natural gas fireplaces are much more energy-efficient. They can typically warm your entire basement for less than $10 per month.

Cons Of Natural Gas Fireplace

Natural gas fireplaces are inexpensive to run each month, but they require a larger investment up front. Typically, they cost between $2000 and $5500 to install.

Wood Pellet Stove

A wood pellet stove is another option for heating your basement efficiently. It’s not the same thing as a wood-burning stove.

Instead, wood pellet stoves use clean-burning pellets that are made from recycled materials. The stove burns the pellets and pushes warm air out using a small fan.

Pros Of Wood Pellet Stove

Wood pellet stoves are more eco-friendly than their wood-burning counterparts. Another huge benefit of using a wood pellet stove to heat your basement is that it doesn’t require electricity.

Cons Of Wood Pellet Stove

A downside to wood pellet stoves is that they produce carbon monoxide. Because of this, it’s necessary to vent the stove outside and make sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.

Another drawback to wood pellet stoves is that you need to replenish their fuel regularly. In addition, they tend to have an old-fashioned or traditional look. Depending on your interior design scheme, a wood pellet stove might look out of place.

Electric Space Heaters

There are a few types of electric space heaters. Convection heaters that use fans are the cheapest but also the least efficient. Portable micathermic heaters can be installed on the wall, similar to a flat-screen TV. Meanwhile, portable radiators roll into the room and retain heat even after they’re turned off.

Pros Of Electric Space Heaters

Electric space heaters tend to be the cheapest to purchase and easiest to use. They’re portable, start heating the room immediately, and usually don’t require any installation. There are multiple types and styles to choose from as well.

Cons Of Electric Space Heaters

The biggest drawback of electric space heaters is that they’re not energy-efficient. They can take up space in the room and have cords that can get in the way.

Radiant Floor Heating

There are two types of radiant floor heating: electric radiant heating and hydronic radiant heating, which uses hot water. Both create warmth under the floor and radiate it upward.

Electric radiant heating uses heating elements in a serpentine pattern to heat the floor. Meanwhile, hydronic radiant heating has plastic tubing in a serpentine pattern. Hot water is then pumped through the tubing. Hydronic floor heating systems are typically more expensive than electric radiant heating systems.

Pros Of Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating is quiet and energy-efficient. Installing electric radiant heating can even be a DIY project because of its simplicity.

This type of subfloor heating provides uniform, comfortable heat throughout your basement. It only takes 30 to 60 minutes to heat up and doesn’t require maintenance. Plus, you can turn it on and off as needed to adjust the heat in your home.

Cons Of Radiant Floor Heating

The downside of radiant floor heating is that it can cost $10 to $20 per square foot. You’ll also need to pay an electrician to install it if you’re not doing it yourself. In addition, it might be necessary to replace your flooring.

Another drawback is that radiant floor heating slightly elevates the height of your floor. The cost of operation can be high as well.

Multiple Heat Sources

A final method of heating your basement efficiently is simply to combine a few of the options above! This way, you can create a customized heating solution that meets your needs.

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Related Questions

Is an unfinished basement heated?

In most cases, unfinished basements do not have the ductwork needed for heating and cooling. However, it is recommended to heat your unfinished basement because it will keep the whole home warm in turn.

Is a heated basement floor worth it?

Underfloor heating is considered easy and energy-efficient. You can enjoy lower electricity costs, more even heating, and increased room space. Underfloor heating is quiet and doesn’t affect your air quality either. In most cases, a heated basement floor is considered to be worth the investment.

What is the best way to heat a basement?

The best way to heat your basement is to extend your current HVAC system. This is ideal for maintaining your home’s value. It’s an efficient energy source and, since it uses existing ductwork, it’s practically invisible.

Jessica Allen
Jessica Allen

With a lifelong passion for writing plus strong enthusiasm for home improvement and DIY projects, joining the team at Upgraded Home was an easy choice. Jessica Allen likes to share helpful information with current and aspiring homeowners. Aside from writing, Jessica loves doing yoga, playing the piano, and dabbling in graphic design.

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