Five Ways to Heat Your Finished Basement Near Medford, NJ
- Adding insulation and dehumidification
- Putting in extra registers from your furnace
- Installing electric baseboard heaters
- Adding an electric fireplace or pellet stove
- Installing a ductless mini-split
Plenty of people in Medford, Sicklerville, or other South Jersey towns have turned their basements into extra living space. Whether it’s a TV room, a place for the kids to play, an office, or just another rec room, it’s a great way to make your home feel bigger.
Bigger, but not always warmer.
If you’re tired of cold feet while watching TV, or a general chill while working in your downstairs office, it’s time to think about how to keep that area warm once the weather gets cold.
In this post, we’ll first look at why the temperature down here is lower than upstairs. Then, we’ll explore the best options for fixing the problem.
If you have any questions along the way, feel free to email or call us. At Bovio, we’ve been doing HVAC installation in South Jersey for more than 40 years. As a result, we know plenty about the types of houses here, and what works best in them.
Why is basement so cold?
Two important reasons your basement is so cold are that they’re usually below ground and damper than the rest of the house. Air leaks and a lack of insulation are common, too. Finally, there’s your thermostat’s location.
Generally speaking, the temperature underground is lower than on the surface. Next, there’s moisture. It’s common for basements to be damp.
You’ve got water that’s seeped into the ground also making its way into the home here. That general dampness makes it feel chilly.
There’s usually not a lot of insulation. We often see a drop ceiling and some drywall to make the room look nicer. It’s visually appealing but doesn’t do much to retain warmth in the winter.
Add in some old windows or a dryer vent that’s not sealed, and you’ve got thermal energy escaping.
And, your central heating may not do the trick down there. First off, the furnace may be down there, but not any vents. Second, the thermostat is upstairs.
That makes a big difference. Since the gauge that controls the heat is in a warmer part of the house, it’ll register the right temperature well before the basement actually gets that warm.
Now that we know what we’re up against, let’s see how to fix these problems.
Insulation and dehumidification
Before you start adding heating, try making sure whatever warmth there is down there doesn’t escape. If the problem isn’t that bad, this may be all you need.
For starters, add some insulation! Of course, doing so can be tricky if you already have a finished basement. There’s no point in tearing down walls.
But, if you’ve got a drop ceiling, you can still put some insulation between the rafters. And, even some heavy rugs or carpeting can make a difference.
Next, consider a dehumidifier. If the basement is especially damp, this gets rid of that excess moisture. That not only raises the temperature in the winter. It also prevents wood furniture from getting damaged.
Finally, plug up any drafty spots. As we mentioned, windows and dryer vents are common culprits. And, if you think this isn’t the only room where this happens, an energy audit can help you locate all the problem spots in your home.
Add More Registers
One way to add more warmth is by using your furnace. After all, it’s strong enough to keep your whole house warm. Using it for one more room should be fine.
To do this, you’ll need an HVAC professional to build out more registers or vents for the basement. This way, some of the warmth traveling through the ductwork enters this part of the house as well.
This option usually isn’t the most cost-effective for other parts of your home. Upstairs, we have to build more ductwork to reach an untreated area. That can really hike up the price.
But, downstairs the ductwork is already there, leading from the heater. It’s usually close enough to the finished area that we only need to add a register.
However, you may not get as much warmth as the rest of the house. Since the thermostat is upstairs, the furnace may not stay on long enough to always do the trick down here.
Electric Baseboard Heaters
Electric baseboards add a new heat source only where you need it. That means it works according to what that room needs. It’s inexpensive, but not the most efficient.
Baseboard heat is also silent. Since you’ve probably already got some noise downstairs from a washing machine and dryer, plus the heater, it’s nice to not add to that.
But, while you may not pay a lot at first, you’ll notice a significant spike in your electric bill. These things tend to use a lot of energy to do the job.
And, they’re not ideal if your basement is prone to flooding, A few inches of water could ruin them.
Electric Fireplaces and Pellet Stoves
Electric fireplaces and pellet stoves are two electric options that you can incorporate into the room’s decor.
An electric fireplace is the simpler of the two options. It’s not a fireplace, just a nice electric heater that looks like one. People enjoy these because they add a little more ambiance.
An extra advantage: Portability. With the smaller models especially, you just set them down and plug them in. If flooding is an issue, it’s easy to get it to higher ground. Also, you can rearrange the room as you please without working around a fixed appliance.
Again, efficiency is a drawback: These use a significant amount of power to do the job.
Pellet stoves, however, are more energy-efficient. They may use electricity to fire up, but they use old-fashioned convection (i.e., burning wood pellets) to warm the room.
That makes them much more powerful than any portable heater. In fact, these usually impact the floor above it as well.
These also come in a variety of styles, so you can pick one that suits your room. Just know that the designs also include a pipe to get rid of the smoke— meaning, you’ll need to install the stove and build out the ventilation permanently.
Ductless Mini Splits in a Finished Basement
Now we’re getting into the real firepower (so to speak). A ductless mini-split is likely the most expensive option on this list — upfront, at least. But, it offers you the best of both worlds when adding heat to a finished basement: The strength of a furnace (with cooling options to boot) with the customization of baseboard heating or a portable unit.
If your finished basement is exceptionally large, or even if you just use it all the time and want it to be just as comfy as the rest of the house, ductless is a serious contender.
With a mini-split, you get a wall-mounted air handler that’s connected to a heat pump outside. The outdoor unit gathers whatever thermal energy there is outside, amplifies it, and sends it into the house.
Inside, the air handler has a thermostat to measure the temperature in the room where you install it. So, the system works according to what the basement needs — not the gauge upstairs in the living room.
And, these units use as little energy as possible to circulate the air and maintain the temperature.
Bonuses: They’re virtually silent, and also offer AC for the summer.
The drawback here is usually cost: These systems often start at more than $1,000. But, they have much less of an impact on your monthly energy bills. And, since they’re so energy-efficient, you can usually get a rebate from NJ Clean Energy for them. These offers can knock a few hundred dollars off the price tag.
Ultimately, the best option for your home depends on your exact needs. That’s got to do with how often you use the space, the size of the room, and how well it retains heat.
If you’re looking for the best option for your South Jersey home, give us a call at Bovio. We offer free consultations to help you determine just how much heating you’ll need, and the best way to get it.