Even with the heat on full blast upstairs, your basement doesn’t feel warm downstairs. How do you heat up your basement so you can use it during the winter for recreation or even just doing laundry?
Here are some great ways to heat your basement all winter long:
- Indoor fireplace
- Radiant wall heater
- Under-floor heating
- Portable heat pump
- Heater air filter replacement
- Baseboard heating
- Space heater
- Ductless heating
- Reverse ceiling fan
You might not have known that so many heating options existed for a cold basement, but they do! In this extensive guide, we’ll go over each and every one of them so you can enjoy a more temperate basement during the coldest months of the year.
1. Indoor Fireplace
Your first basement heating option adds some ambiance and heating, so it’s doubly beneficial for a freezing cold basement.
An indoor fireplace could be just what your basement has been looking for, especially if you have a mostly finished basement for recreational purposes.
You can choose from three types of indoor fireplaces, so let’s go over your options now.
Electric Indoor Fireplaces
An electric indoor fireplace is super easy to use, as all that’s required is an available outlet.
That also makes electric indoor fireplaces the most portable, as you can move them around your basement wherever outlets are available or wherever you can run an extension cord long enough to make the setup work.
Some electric fireplaces are freestanding, but if you want a more permanent fixture, you can buy a wall-mounted electric fireplace.
Granted, you don’t get as much heat output with an electric indoor fireplace as other types, but they’re lower cost, easier to use, and very simple to install.
Gas Indoor Fireplace
Your next option is a gas indoor fireplace, which is log-free.
Some gas fireplaces are ventless while others have vents; it’s your choice which you prefer.
If the fireplace uses vents, it must be installed to redirect the gas through your chimney. This is what I use in my home, it can be found on amazon or home depot.
If your home does not have a chimney, you’d have to install an alternate pipe instead.
You will see yellow flames dancing from a vented indoor gas fireplace to give the fireplace the most realistic look and feel.
If you go ventless, you can skip all the chimney or piping installation, saving you both time and money. That said, you still need a gas line.
While indoor gas heaters produce more heat than their electric counterparts, they come with the added risk of carbon monoxide possibly getting into your home, especially if the fireplace isn’t sufficiently vented.
Wood-Burning Indoor Fireplace
The third and final type of indoor fireplace is a classic: the wood-burning fireplace.
As we’re sure you’re well aware, an indoor wood-burning fireplace requires you to toss in wood logs to keep the fire burning.
Even without power, one of these fireplaces would continue to work, which is certainly a benefit.
You get the sounds of a real crackling fire with an indoor wood-burning fireplace, the best warmth from the fire, and the beauty of the flames in motion.
However, lugging logs all the way down to your basement can be a pain, especially if there’s no backdoor to your basement.
You’ll also have to get comfortable starting and putting out fires, both of which carry risks.
On top of all that, you’ll have to learn how to adequately remove the ashes from the fireplace after the fire has stopped burning. If you don’t, then the risk of an uncontrollable fire rises.
You will need a chimney for a wood-burning fireplace.
2. Radiant Wall Heater
Your next option for a cold basement is a radiant wall heater.
These heaters are large panels that rely on infrared heat to send warmth from the wall panel to any nearby solid items in your basement.
You can select from vertical or horizontal installation, so even if your basement walls are mostly occupied, you should have room for a radiant wall heater.
The heat-up time of these heaters is quite exceptional, as they begin warming up fast.
Within a couple of minutes, there should be a noticeable difference in how comfortable your basement temperature feels.
Even better is that a radiant wall heater is quite energy-efficient.
Also, since they don’t have vents, you don’t have to worry about a radiant wall heater moving allergens, pollen, and dust in the air each time it turns on.
Radiant wall heaters are quite attractive, too, so they’ll add to the look of your basement rather than take away.
The only disadvantage is that since a basement is usually such a large space, you will need either high-powered radiant wall heaters or several wall heaters to sufficiently warm the basement.
Here’s the square footage and appropriate wattage to get you started:
3. Under-Floor Heating
Many basements feature poured concrete flooring since it’s cost-effective and sure to last for a long time.
While concrete can absorb heat, the heat release rate is so gradual that your concrete basement floor is likely to feel like ice each time you venture down your basement, even with socks and shoes on.
Under-floor heating or radiant floor heating will make a difference in how cozy your basement floor feels.
Although you can select from hydronic or electric under-floor heating, for your purposes, we’d recommend electric.
The reason is that hydronic radiant floor heating is intended for the entirety of your home.
An electric radiant heat system features a series of cables installed into mats. The mats go on the subfloor and are held in place by a thin layer of mortar.
Then the floor is finished with either stone tile or ceramic as well as laminate or other types of floors.
While it varies by manufacturer, some under-floor heating systems can produce as much as 31 British thermal units or BTUs of heating per square foot of padding.
As we’re sure you can guess from this description, under-floor heating is not simply something you add to your basement once it’s finished.
Ideally, you would opt for this type of flooring during the initial construction of your basement or at least during a significant remodel.
While the electric heating system itself is not all that expensive, the basement reconstruction is, so this is an option you have to weigh carefully.
4. Portable Heat Pump
Your next option for a warmer basement is a portable heat pump, which is also known as a reverse portable air conditioner.
This is like a standard heat pump but much smaller.
A streamlined container fits all the heating mechanisms. These pumps even typically have wheels for easy transport.
Most portable heat pumps are air-source heat pumps.
When you turn the pump on, it absorbs all the heat from its environment and then sends it into the basement.
A portable heat pump features a hose that must go outside, as this is where it sources the air that will be cooled and sent throughout your basement.
The hose also sends excess heat and moisture out so your basement doesn’t become overrun with condensation and possibly mold.
Some portable heat pumps even have two hoses. One hose is intended for inlet air, and the other is for exhaust air.
For a basement, since it has so much square footage, you’d need a dual-hosed heat pump.
This pump will be more expensive than a single-hose model and somewhat less portable as well.
If you use a portable heat pump often enough, one of the risks is that the air pressure in your basement can become negative since the pump constantly pulls air in.
5. Heater Air Filter Replacement
This next option isn’t exactly related to buying or installing a new type of heater. Rather, it’s about making the type of heater you already have even more efficient.
Much like your air conditioner, your furnace or heater relies on a filter to catch contaminants in the air.
The filter gets dirtier the longer you use it, which reduces its effectiveness.
The contaminants can now freely enter the air, spreading throughout your home and reducing air quality. You could feel sicker, especially if you have a preexisting condition.
The heater is also working much harder to be efficient with the gunk backed up in the filter.
You should get into the habit of changing your furnace filter regularly.
How often you have to commit to this duty depends on its size.
If the filter is only two inches, it gets dirtier faster and needs replacing about every three months.
For those filters that are three or four inches, you can change them about every six months and no more infrequently than every nine months.
If your furnace filter is still bigger, such as five to six inches, then change the filter at least every nine months and no more seldom than once a year.
6. Baseboard Heating
If you’re still contemplating your options to this point, a baseboard heater or several could be just what your basement is looking for.
Baseboard heaters are mounted to the wall.
Unlike radiant wall panels, which are higher on the wall and take up much more space, a baseboard heater is a streamlined heating solution installed lower on the wall, such as at ground floor level.
You don’t need to add further ductwork to your home for a baseboard heater, which is one definite plus.
So how does baseboard heating work, you ask?
The heater produces warm air that mingles with the cold air nearer your basement floor.
Since heat rises, the heat in the room will do the same, making your basement feel warmer even with the heating solution lower to the ground.
You have two types of baseboard heaters to choose from.
The first is a hydronic baseboard heater, which combines water and oil to produce heat.
A convection baseboard heater has a built-in heating element that can take the cold air in your basement and make it warmer.
Now, there are some downsides of baseboard heaters to be aware of.
They only warm around the areas they’re installed, so you’d have to get several heaters installed a good distance apart for your whole basement to feel warmer.
Baseboard heaters use more energy than many of the other solutions we’ve discussed.
Most dangerously, they can easily catch on fire near flammable objects such as curtains and furniture.
You’d have to be very careful about where you installed the heater(s).
7. Space Heater
Of course, we had to include the classic heating option, the space heater.
Space heaters are available in many different types, so let’s begin with an overview.
Panel Space Heater
A panel space heater can be a floor-bound space heater or even mount to your wall.
The panel space heater includes internal electric components that allow the warmth to radiate off the heater.
They’re considered a new heater type that, while they have a lot of potential, won’t fully heat a room. Rather, they’ll make a space less chilly.
They’re probably not the most viable candidate for your basement’s heating needs.
Propane Space Heater
A propane space heater runs on liquid propane, as the name likely implied.
The fuel source reduces the need for a power cord, so a propane space heater is truly as portable as you need it to be.
The heater once turned on, will send electromagnetic waves into the air. Those waves will generate warmth.
Some propane space heaters include a fan, and others don’t; the fan increases the warming speed of the space heater.
Oil-Filled Space Heater
An oil-filled space heater may go by the name radiator heater due to the radiator-like appearance of this small(ish) portable unit.
Using a combination of electricity and oil, an oil-filled space heater runs on diathermic oil specifically.
The fins or columns of the heater allow the oil to circulate after it’s been adequately warmed.
While you can move an oil-filled space heater around the room as needed, that only applies when the heater is not running.
The fins of an oil-filled heater get very, very hot and should not be touched at that time!
Infrared Space Heater
The electric-powered infrared space heater sends electromagnetic waves to the air much like a propane space heater does.
The air doesn’t get warmer with an infrared space heater, but rather, everything else around it, including you, the walls, the carpets, and any other items in your basement.
To speed up the heating process, you can buy an infrared space heater with a fan. Fan-free options are also available.
Ceramic Space Heater
The last type of space heater you might consider is a ceramic space heater, which is lightweight, portable, and compact.
Ceramic space heaters are named after the internal ceramic plates that are adjoined to metal coils.
Once you turn the heater on, the electric components within warm up the coils, then the ceramic plates.
The plates absorb heat and then send it outward into your basement. This is a very quick process, which means you won’t be shivering for long.
No matter which type you choose, keep in mind that a space heater–especially in a basement–should only be used as a supplemental form of heating.
It can fill in those cold areas that your other heating solutions can’t warm.
8. Ductless Heating
A ductless mini-split system is one of the most viable options for heating a basement during the winter.
As the name implies, a mini-split system adds no further ductwork to your home but is intended to replace your conventional HVAC heating and cooling units.
Here’s how it works. A ductless heating and cooling system includes an outdoor compressor, which is also known as the condenser.
The compressor goes on a concrete slab in your backyard and is installed via a series of wires to an indoor air-handling unit.
Each indoor air-handling unit cools according to zones. A zone can be an entire room but can also be a space in a room that gets colder or hotter than the rest of the room.
Your basement might be a single-zone system or even a two-zone system.
Ductless mini splits can provide both heating and cooling, reducing the need for a furnace and central air conditioner. They too run on refrigerant or coolant.
Each air-handling unit has its own respective thermostat so you can set your basement to one consistent temperature or several different temperatures depending on its size and heating needs.
A ductless mini split system is much more of a project than most of the other options on this list and thus will be more expensive.
9. Reverse Ceiling Fan
Although you would think that installing a ceiling fan in your basement would only make the room colder, that’s not always the case.
If you send the fan spinning in the reverse direction it usually does–so clockwise instead of counterclockwise–then the fan will begin sending more warm air throughout the basement rather than cold air.
You can’t do this with any ol’ fan, of course. Your ceiling fan must be able to reverse or no matter what speed setting you have it on, it will not make the basement warmer, only colder.
Your last option is rather simple as well.
Buy some large, thick, fluffy carpets and cover the hard, cold floor of your basement with them.
On its own, carpeting will only marginally increase the warmth of your basement.
In conjunction with these other methods though, your basement shouldn’t feel nearly as cold anymore!
For many homeowners, the basement is the coldest part of the house. If it’s the same story for you, know that you don’t have to shiver every time you go down there.
The 10 methods we described today can either moderately increase how warm your basement is or significantly increase its warmth.
No matter your budget or warming needs, there’s a viable solution for you!
You may also want to check out “Best heaters for hunting cabins” for more ideas and products!