Skip to main content

The best ways to heat a basement (from super affordable to total reno)

We know the best basement heating options for your space and budget

Have you just bought a home with a finished basement? Maybe you put in the work yourself and created some extra living space below ground. Either way, you know that basements can get incredibly cold. Any heat in your home rises, so that could leave your new basement at unbearably chilly temperatures. To get the most out of this extra space for a home office, kids’ rec room, or movie night space, you need to make the conditions livable. So, how do you heat a cold basement? We’re going to discuss all the different basement heating options out there, so you can pick the one that’s just right for your basement space.

Finished basement with white carpet and pool table

What is the most efficient way to heat a basement?

The best heating system for your basement is one that heats it efficiently without taking up a ton of space or racking up huge energy bills. Before you decide on a heating option for your basement, you need to decide what works best for your space as well as your pocketbook. Some options will cost more upfront but will heat the space more efficiently. Other options will be a smaller hit to your bank account but won’t do as great of a job heating up the area. As you consider all of the available heating methods, think about the following:

Related Videos
  • How big of a space do you need to heat?
  • How much space do you have for heating equipment?
  • What’s your budget for installation?
  • What’s your monthly energy budget?
Space heater in living room where woman and cat are sitting

Your basement heating options

Once you’ve got some ballpark figures in mind with regard to your basement space and budget, you can decide which of the following basement heating methods is right for you.

Space heaters

Many space heaters you’ve seen probably seem like a joke when you think about using one to heat your basement. In reality, though, there are actually some heavy-duty options out there that can efficiently heat an entire room. Space heaters are the most affordable option for heating your basement, but they’re ideal for smaller spaces. Some people are also wary of space heaters, particularly if small children are in the house. Many areas on the heater get incredibly hot and can easily burn the skin if touched.


  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Easy set up with no professional installation


  • Only heat smaller spaces
  • Pose burn risks

Wood pellet stove

If you’d love to have that log cabin feel in your finished basement, a wood pellet stove is both efficient and inexpensive. It burns manufactured wood pellets and circulates warmed air throughout the room, but it’s ideal for small-to-medium-size spaces. While the unit can be plugged right into a standard outlet, it does require venting since it produces carbon monoxide as the pellets burn.


  • Inexpensive to install
  • Doesn’t use a lot of electricity


  • Requires vents to be installed
  • Pellets need to be replenished
  • Doesn’t match all styles of decor

Baseboard heaters

For medium-size basements, baseboard heaters may be the most efficient and cost-saving way to heat your basement. While they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing option, they do a better job at heating average-size basement rooms than space heaters or wood pellet stoves. These units are installed along the baseboard of the wall and, while they run on electricity, they do require a 20-amp, 240-volt circuit. This means that you will likely need to hire an electrician to update the wiring in your basement.


  • Heat medium-sized spaces efficiently
  • Don’t require venting or ductwork
  • Midrange installation cost


  • Require updated electrical wiring
  • Use more electricity than space heaters and pellet stoves
  • Not an attractive addition to the room

Ductless mini-split unit

The good thing about ductless mini-split units is that most have dual functions and can be used as A/C units in the summer. These units do require extensive installation, but they do a great job heating or cooling a larger living space like a basement. While they don’t require any ductwork, the units do need to connect to an outdoor compressing unit, so the cost of installing this heating option is on the pricier side.


  • Doubles as an A/C unit
  • Heats larger spaces efficiently
  • No ductwork required


  • Professional installation is likely required
  • Higher costs overall

Extend ductwork

While it’s the most expensive option for heating your basement, extending your ductwork to include your basement space ensures that the area is always as warm as you’d like it to be. An HVAC professional can likely extend your home’s existing ducts to heat your finished basement as well as cool it if you already have central air. This simplifies controlling the temperature in the renovated space since it will be connected to the thermostat for the rest of the home.


  • The most effective option for heating large basements
  • Easy day-to-day operation


  • Requires professional installation and renovation
  • Most expensive option overall

If you recently finished your basement, you’ve already put a lot of time and energy into making the space livable. It only makes sense that you would also make it comfortable. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the need for heating this below-ground living area. The best basement heating option for your home, though, depends on the size of your basement space, how much you’re willing to put into the aesthetics of the space, and your budget for both installation and monthly energy costs.

Editors' Recommendations

The best garage door openers
best yellow jacket traps to the rescue garage door opener

Make your garage a practical space and your life easier with an automatic door opener. This convenient, everyday technology is a great way to save time on a daily basis and make your arrival at home more pleasant, so you can enjoy a relaxing evening after a long day at work.

Opening and shutting a garage door can be such a tedious task. Often, people prefer to park outside and end up filling their garage with random items that they don’t need. Take better care of your vehicle and make good use of your garage by installing a garage door opener. Whether you’re looking to replace your garage door opener, upgrade your current device, or get one for the first time, we’ve curated a list of our favorites to make your home more functional and keep your car spotless.

Read more
6 popular paint colors for basements that will brighten your home’s dungeon
Freshen up the vibe in your basement with these popular paint colors
Finished basement seating area with white walls and carpet

Whether you have a finished basement or one that's barely livable, your basement probably doesn't have a whole lot of natural light. While there are other ways to brighten this space (proper lighting, for one), the paint color you choose for your basement will make or break the space.  The right shade can enhance the basement, making it appear larger, and can also contribute to an overall happy, comfortable atmosphere your friends and family will love.

With a fresh coat of paint and a few well-chosen pieces of decor, your basement will no longer be just a drab laundry room or overflow storage space. These are the popular paint colors for basements we love and we think you will too.

Read more
Gas vs heat pump pool water heaters: Which one makes sense for your pool?
Want your pool heated? Here are the facts about gas vs heat pump pool water heaters
Outdoor inground pool with white two story home

You've invested a lot of time, money, and energy into making your outdoor pool a clean, enjoyable feature in your home. And there's nothing quite like cooling off in that crystal clear water on a hot day. Pool heaters for in-ground pools can be even more of an investment, but the benefits of heated water in your outdoor oasis greatly outweigh the cost. You'll have a more comfortable swimming experience, and if you live in a cooler climate, you can lengthen your swimming season significantly. With the different types of pool water heaters on the market, what's the best one for your pool and the area you live in? We'll dive into the two most popular types so you can decide which is best for you: Gas vs heat pump pool water heaters.

Gas pool water heaters
Gas pool water heaters have been around for a long time, so they're tried and true options for heating your pool. They work by pulling water in and using natural or propane gases to heat the water. Then they return the water to the pool, all warm and cozy.
Pro: Heat your pool quickly
Gas heaters are popular among pool owners because they heat the water quickly and keep the pool's temperature stable, regardless of outdoor temperature. For this reason, gas pool water heaters are ideal for pool owners in cooler climates who use their pool less frequently, particularly at the beginning or end of the summer when the outside temperature fluctuates often.
Pro: Lower initial purchase and installation cost
Compared to other, more energy-efficient pool heaters, gas pool heaters are more economical upfront. Their price tags are significantly lower, running between $1,500 and $2,500, and the cost of installation can run as low as $500. Installation is particularly low if your home already has gas energy hookups. If you want to stick to a lower budget for the first year of use, a gas pool heater is a good option.
Con: Use more energy to operate
Unfortunately, if you're looking for the greenest option in pool heaters, gas heaters are not it. They use finite natural resources to operate, so they are not the most environmentally friendly option when compared to other types of pool heaters. They also cost more to operate overall, which you'll see on your energy bills. In general, gas pumps can cost between $300-$500 per month to operate, but you can save money by turning them off when not in use since they work quickly after being turned on.
Con: Higher maintenance costs and shorter lifespan
While initial costs are low, with so many moving parts in these machines, there is a higher likelihood that maintenance will be required. This could end up being an additional cost and headache. Gas pool heaters also tend to have a shorter overall lifespan than their heat pump counterparts since maintenance costs will eventually rise to the point where purchasing a new model will be more cost-effective.

Read more