From Our Blog

How to Heat a Cold Basement

Basements are a great addition to a home as they create extra space that can be used for storage, creating a family area, and even extra bedrooms. But an unfortunate thing many basements have in common is that they’re often chilly, which can make your home feel cold and unwelcoming. Luckily, there are a few ways to fix the problem. Why are basements naturally cold and how can you heat a chilly basement? We will explain this and the different options available.


Basements are naturally colder due to the fact that they’re mostly concrete, so the cold from the earth surrounding it is absorbed and held. This can be especially worse if inadequate insulation was used in finishing. There is also a lack of direct sunlight hitting most basements which will prevent natural heating. And finally, warm air rises. So regardless of the heat source you use, the heat generated will find its way upwards, leaving the downstairs spaces cooler regardless of the temperature on the thermostat.


There are several options for heating a cold basement. If you are renovating, knowing that the basement will be chilly is helpful when planning. A cold basement can be prevented with extra insulation, you can add an extension of the current ducting to allow for forced air heating, and even install radiant in-floor heating. Although, these are usually very expensive renovation add-ons if they are not planned for.

If the basement is already finished and you will not be doing any major renovations, there are a few other options, including zone heating.


Most homes use one thermostat that serves the entire house because it is simple and easy to set up and maintain. Unfortunately, this can result in uncomfortable areas of your home, which is why zone heating is a great alternative. Zone heating is when you heat the most lived-in spaces with an alternative heat source. Considering households spend 80-percent of their time in 20-percent of their home, it makes economical sense to turn the furnace down and focus on these spaces. This can save hundreds of dollars on energy costs and lowers a home’s carbon footprint.

If you’re experiencing issues with the heating in your home, there are some other ways to introduce zone control into your home.


As mentioned previously, most HVAC systems use one thermostat to control the furnace. This means that air is distributed evenly throughout the ducts, and therefore no variations in airflow to suit the needs of each individual space. A solution to this is adding dampers to branches, which can  regulate airflow according to the needs of the room allowing for greater control in each area. Depending on your ductwork, you can have one damper serving each floor of your home.


If dampers aren’t practical for your home’s system (ex. due to duct design), adding supplemental heat to a space that typically doesn’t get enough might be the best solution. You may have a situation where one room or area is colder while the rest of your home remains comfortable. Adding another source of heat in this one space will allow you to only use what you need, so you don’t have to overheat the rest of your home to stay comfortable. This can include an electric or gas fireplace, electric baseboard heating, or plug-in space heaters. Electric fireplaces can be wall-mounted, they heat spaces that are 400 – 800 square feet, and they are eco-friendly and cost-effective. A gas fireplace is a little more expensive, but they add ambiance and value to a home. Baseboard heaters are usually expensive to run and aren’t very efficient. It is necessary to be cautious with plug-in space heaters as they also consume a lot of energy and can be dangerous if left unattended. 


For hot water heating systems, each radiator can have a control valve that opens and closes when the space thermostat calls for heat to prevent overheating or under-heating. You can also group radiators in a certain space and connect them to a thermostat that serves that zone.


A decentralized system allows for greater control in each area of your home with individual thermostats to control each piece of equipment. For example, multiple heat pumps serving separate rooms or groups of rooms to run as needed for these zones. This is not a common system but you can contact us and discuss it with a member of our team to see if it works for your home.


If some areas or rooms in your home experience hot air that stays at the top near the ceiling and cooler air that sinks, giving you the chills, you may benefit from improved air circulation to take care of this zone. Rather than modify your entire system to improve comfort in this problem area, a targeted solution will give proper control and comfort throughout your home.


The best way to heat a cold basement is actually the addition of a ductless heat pump. These units are very energy-efficient and provide both heating and cooling all year round. While the initial cost is a little higher than other options, this is still less invasive than a full renovation or radiant in-floor heating.

There is nothing better than a cozy and comfortable space to spend time with your family and friends. Ensure that your most used rooms are comfortable no matter what season it is. Contact us to learn more about what options are best suited for your home and comfort needs.