The problem is, basements are inherently damp and cold, especially in Chicago.
Having a basement is pretty useless if it’s too cold to actually spend time in. But don’t worry. We’ve listed some tips that will help keep your basement warm and habitable all winter long.
Tip #1: Add Carpet or Flooring
The typical basement floor is in direct contact with the cold ground. That means any heat in the basement will quickly escape via the floor if it’s uninsulated.
The solution? Covering cement flooring with carpet or floorboard. This extra layer of flooring/carpet acts as insulation between the cold floor and your feet. While adding carpet or flooring doesn’t necessarily add more heat to the basement, it definitely keeps any heat you have from escaping.
Tip #2: Add Insulation
If your basement walls aren’t already insulated, we suggest adding insulation immediately to keep heat from escaping via your basement walls.
Why? Well, most Chicago basement walls are made from a concrete block or poured concrete. Concrete is an excellent foundation but because it’s extremely porous, it’s a poor insulator, which means the heat from your home is easily lost through these walls. But adding insulation helps slow heat loss. Once you choose the insulation you need, make sure a professional installs it for you. They’ll make sure your insulation is installed correctly and to code.
Tip # 3: Replace Windows with Energy Star models
First, off, if your basement doesn’t currently have an “egress” window, you may need to install one to keep your home code compliant. An egress window is any window that is large enough, as defined by local building codes, for a person to exit the home in case of an emergency.
So if you don’t already have a window, make sure that you install one that’s Energy Star certified. If you do currently have windows, replace them with Energy Star certified models if they’re not already Energy Star certified.
Well, Energy Star certified windows are specifically designed to prevent heat from escaping your home but they also stop chilly air from seeping into your basement. In fact, by adding Energy Star windows, you can save up to 12% on your home’s heating and cooling costs.
Tip #4: Add a Heating Source
Options for adding more heat to your basement include:
1. Adding a space heater
Standalone space heaters are extremely affordable and efficient at providing heat to your basement. For example, these heaters can cost as little as $150 and can be installed without professional help.
Some examples of space heaters include:
The downfall to standalone heaters, though, is that they are limited in their heat output. Basically, if your basement is larger than 800 square feet, you might want to explore the following two heating options instead of a space heater.
2. Adding registers
Add registers to bring warm air from your home’s heating system/ductwork into the basement. You’ll want to consult a professional before deciding if this is a legitimate option for your basement. That’s because your heating system is designed to provide a specific amount of heat to every area in your home. But when you add more registers, that’s asking for even more heat that wasn’t accounted for when the system was first installed. And this can throw off the pressure inside your heating system, which ultimately can cause repairs and loss of comfort.
3. Installing a separate heating system
This is the most expensive way to heat a basement but it offers the most comfort. If you think this is the best option for your Chicago basement, you’ll want to first have a professional inspect your home and provide a quote for the installation of your new heating system.