I get it, you'd like your finished basement to be warm, toasty and comfortable even on the coldest, darkest winter nights.
You didn't build that kick ass movie theater room just so you could freeze your butt off alone!
You need it to be warm so your lady will come down and snuggle with you. Get'cha snuggle on!
So what are your options for heating your basement?
I scoured the internet for weeks, collected pages of notes and asked hundreds if not thousands of my readers what they use.
Here are my top 5 ways to heat your basement:
1. Add registers to your existing or expanded HVAC duct work. (get $$ out and your tin snips ready)
2. Buy a vented stand alone "system" to heat your basement. (like a pellet stove)
3. Buy an electric (unvented) stand-alone unit. RECOMMENDED !!
4. Buy something that can heat a small room.
5. Suck it up you big baby - the cold is good for your lungs. (like tiny Siberian babies)
If you haven't read my article on HVAC for your basement - go read that first - you may not even need any extra heat.
Option 1: Add Registers to heat your basement
This is sort of what I did with my finished basement, at least in the beginning anyway. The builder had installed 1 register in my main trunk line, I added a second one about 15 feet away.
This helped but my basement was still "cold" on days where the outside temps dropped below freezing. By "cold" I mean between 63 and 66 degrees.
Now… some people's heads are going to pop off their necks reading this because they're going to claim that this will completely throw off the "balance" of my HVAC system. Relax… 3 registers ain't gonna do much. You can click here to read a whole discussion about this.
If you are still having a heart attack about adding registers or just want to add like 8 or something like that - then you might have to "beef up your HVAC". My advice then would be get your wallet out and call the professionals. (I'll try to write a separate article on the cost of a separate HVAC unit in the future)
If you're ready to cut a hole in your main duct line, and let's face it who doesn't want to do that, click here to see how I installed my register. If this idea scares the poop out of you, just remember that worst case, you buy a $5 piece of metal and cover it back up (but relax, you most likely won't have to do that).
Option 2: Buy a vented "stand alone system"
What I mean by that is, don't tap into your HVAC, instead buy something like a Pellet Stove.
Here are some happy pellet stove facts.
- A medium size pellet stove can heat about 1750 sq. ft. That's more than enough to heat your basement.
- They have a auto-pellet feeder systems (so you can set it and forget it)
- Actually burning something to heat your house is kind of bad ass, even if it is a pellet.
- You can install it yourself (but it's not exactly an easy job)
Here are some not so happy facts about pellet stoves
- A new pellet stove costs around $1,500
- The pellets cost money - you should ballpark around $150 to heat your basement for 1 winter.
- You need to go down there and clean the ash out every few days. So it's not really set it and forget (this was the deal breaker for me)
- It takes up some significant space in your basement
- It must be vented outside, aka you have to cut a hole in your house
- It must sit on a hearth or stone/concrete floor.
Another option for heating your basement would be to buy a wood burning stove - which I think is really cool - but I would not want to deal with "wood", loading wood into the stove or cleaning up wood ash all the time.
Don't get me wrong here guys and gals. I personally think having a pellet stove would be awesome, I just wouldn't want to deal with cleaning out the ash and having bags of wood pellets in my house - I'm just not that mountainy of a man.
Option 3: Buy a Large Room Infrared Heater
This is it! This is what I recommend you buy. This is what I bought for my basement.
This a 1500 watt infrared heater. It can heat my entire finished basement. When I plugged this dude in it was about 61 degrees in my basement and 10 below freezing outside with snow everywhere. Now it's 70 degrees and awesome.
Okay, time for some pluses and minuses.
What's Good about it:
- Can heat a really large area, like my whole basement (1000 square feet)
- Makes no noise at all. No fan noise, no crackling noise, nothing.
- Has a built in thermostat
- Crazy energy efficient.
- Great price! Check Amazon here for exact pricing.
What's Bad about it:
- Infrared heaters work the instant they turn on, but they also stop radiating heat the instant they are turned off. Since the air in the room is not actually warmed, the room will lose heat very quickly. In comparison, an oil-filled heater will continue to warm even after the unit is off because it takes time for the heated oil to cool down.
- Uses 1500 watts - that's just about a full circuit - so you can't have something else that pulls a lot of watts on that circuit. Like a treadmill or a bunch of electronics.
- It gets hot. If you have really young kids (4 or younger), you'll need to make sure they don't touch the top of it. My youngest is 6 and he totally gets it. They won't catch on fire if they touch it, but it can burn them.
Oh, it also has wheels on it, in case you need to move it, but frankly it's not really that heavy, you can just pick it up. I use this from December through March. I live in Northern Virginia where it can get as low as -10.
There are a few different models. The exact one I bought is the "Dr. Heater" and it gets 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon
Option 4 : Buy a Room Sized Electric Heater
Let's say you have a small home office or maybe a "crafts" room or a guest bedroom.
(WAIT, do you actually have a crafts room? You big nerd, an entire room for crafts! Ok, I'll admit, it is kinda fun.)
What ever it's for you want this room to be warm in the winter but you'd rather not take up valuable space with an electric heater.
And, perhaps the heat from the rest of the basement just never quite makes it into this extra room; which is a strong possibility if it's walled off and has a door.
What you need is a small, single room heater, that takes up almost no space, costs almost nothing to run and presents almost not fire risk.
Presenting…. The Econo-Heat 400 watt Wall Panel Convection Heater.
In brief, it's an electric heater that's flat and sits on the wall. The key to it's goodness is that it draws cold air from the floor and heats it, causing a natural rotation without using an electric fan. There are no moving parts. This diagram clearly demonstrates this using a ton speeding of arrows.
Stuff that's Good About it:
- Only costs around a $100 bucks (free shipping from Amazon with Prime)
- Only uses 400 watts - so you can plug it into any circuit.
- You can paint it the same color as your wall (admit it, you know you're stylish)
- Safe for kids and pets - hot but not emergency room burn your skin hot.
- No wood or pellets to load - No ash to clean up! BOOM, major win!
- You can add a thermostat and basically leave it on all winter.
- Easy to install
- Flat design means it takes up very little space (leaving more room to get your grove on)
The BAD stuff:
- It only heats about a 144 square feet. If you have a big open basement floorplan this won't be enough heat.
- Takes awhile to heat up a cold room (like a full day awhile). But you are basically suppose to leave these on all winter. Buy one with a thermostat or add one to it and it will turn on and off as needed.
Finally, this heat "feels" fantastic. Here's how one person described it (she's a women, so you know she knows what she's talking about)
"The heat feels different. Regular plug-in fan based heaters feel like a hair-dryer on my face. This heat is more subtle and more cozy. Feels more like being in a blanket of warm air in summer time." - A Lady from the Interwebs
A blanket of warm summer air! Who doesn't want that! Yes, please!
Well? Are you going to get warm or what?
For just over $100 you're rocking a warm and toasty basement. Get the Dr. Heater - it is perfect.
Cheers - Jason
ps. If you have some other great ways to heat your finished basement without spending a ton of money - let's hear it! Sharing is caring.