While remodeling an unfinished basement, you might wonder about the proper heating and cooling options for this newly finished area. Basements can be tricky to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, but taking the right measures will help you make the area more comfortable year-round. Along with enlisting the help of an HVAC contractor, here are a few ways to get started.
A Guide to Heating and Cooling a Finished Basement
1. Ensure the System is the Right Size
The basement’s dimensions will determine the type and size of the HVAC system you need. Whether the space is large or small, if the equipment installed is not sized properly, you may find yourself incurring unexpected expenses. If the furnace, air conditioner, or ductless mini-split is undersized, the system will struggle to maintain a comfortable temperature. It will run longer, thereby consuming more energy and causing premature failure of components such as the blower system.
Oversized systems are also a problem for the opposite reason: They don’t run long enough. An oversized system swiftly cools or heats the living space to the desired temperature resulting in “short cycling.” Short cycling means that the system runs for very short periods of time, and these numerous start/stop cycles are hard on motors and other components. This situation also causes premature failure of the system. In the summer, short cycling can cause excessive humidity levels which encourages mold and mildew growth.
A properly sized heating and cooling system accomplishes multiple goals:
1) The right run-cycle time
2) Maximizes energy efficiency
3) Maximizes the useful life of the system
4) Helps protect your health
2. Consider Types of Heating & Cooling Systems
There are multiple options for heating your basement. Let’s look at a few from least to most expensive.
If you only need to heat your basement area, the least expensive heat source to install is electric baseboard heaters. These units use resistive filaments to provide heat and heated air is distributed via natural convection. The downside is that they can result in uneven heating and electric, resistive heating is the most expensive way to heat a space.
Next on our list is a traditional, ducted, forced-air furnace and air conditioner. Installation costs for these systems are much lower if it is being installed in an unfinished basement. If your basement is already finished, duct installation costs can be significant, because walls and finished ceilings may need to be cut, ductwork installed, and then refinished. However, properly installed forced-air systems are energy efficient and can provide even temperatures from room to room with an optional zoning system.
Lastly, ductless, mini-split heating and cooling systems are generally a bit more expensive than a traditional, forced air furnace, though the cost difference can evaporate if walls and ceilings have to be cut up to install ductwork. Ductless systems use small refrigerant lines to connect an outside condenser to the indoor blower units rather than bulky ductwork. This results in a minimum of damage to any existing finished areas, plus their advanced heat pump design results in room-by-room temperature control. Additionally, ductless systems are very energy efficient, thus saving you money on your energy bills in the long-term.
As you decide which system to install in your basement, remember to look at the long-term operational costs and benefits of each system rather than just focusing on the initial cost. Each option has both short-term and long-term benefits, so be sure to be thorough in your decision-making process.
3. Check the Insulation
Insulation traps air which slows down the transfer of heat and helps ensure that your rooms remain comfortable. If the insulation in your basement area is in poor condition or non-existent, consider upgrading or installing quality insulation materials and plugging areas where air is infiltrating. In older homes, simple, metal-framed, casement windows are notorious for permitting significant amounts of air to escape. This causes your HVAC system to work harder to maintain a pleasant indoor environment and causes it to use more energy, which leads to higher utility bills.
If an HVAC contractor detects inadequate insulation, leaky windows, or other energy-loss issues, consider having these problems mitigated by a professional. The operational energy savings can be significant, and it is cheaper to make those changes as the basement is being remodeled.
For help with heating and cooling your finished basement, contact Jon’s Plumbing & Heating in Mount Vernon. With more than 20 years of professional experience, we offer the latest energy-saving HVAC systems as a Mitsubishi Electric® Diamond contractor. Backed by an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau® and multiple EPA certifications, we’re ready to help you save energy while keeping your home comfortable year-round. Call us at (740) 392-5667 to learn more about what our HVAC contractors can do for you.