Should I Insulate My Basement Ceiling and Walls?

Man wearing a mask putting insulation in a ceiling

If you live in a home with an unfinished basement, you may have given some thought to the idea of renovating it to create a more usable, efficient space. However, you may be wondering if the time, effort, and cost to do so is worth it.

The fact is, an unfinished, uninsulated basement can significantly decrease your home’s efficiency and value. Just investing in basement insulation can increase your home’s efficiency, reduce stress on your HVAC system, and make your home more comfortable throughout the year.

Since there are several insulation options to choose from, and you may want to tie your insulation project into other home upgrades, including weatherproofing, we will review some of the choices to help you decide the best one for you.

Will Insulating a Basement Make the House Warmer?

A well-insulated home can help make it both warmer and cooler, depending on the season. During the summer months, insulation will help keep cool air in. During cooler months, better insulation will help keep your home warmer, which should also help lower your energy cost.

Choosing the best way to insulate your home will depend on the design of your basement and your goals. Here are a few other things to consider; access to utilities (maintain access to HVAC vents), the condition of the basement, and the primary and secondary uses of your basement space.

Related Topic: How to Insulate Ductwork

Should I Insulate My Basement Walls?

Yes—in most cases insulating your basement is a good idea because it will pay dividends down the road. Not only does wall insulation help keep your home warmer but it may also help soundproof the space. Many homeowners choose to “finish” their basement at the time of insulation, making it more efficient, aesthetically pleasing, and functional all at once.

You can begin to see real savings when you insulate your exposed foundation walls. Insulating foundation walls will help keep the cold air out during harsh winter months.

Remember, however, that “insulated” does not mean sealed or “weatherproofed.” If your basement floods or if water has seeped through the walls previously then these issues will need to be addressed prior to or during your insulation project. Once a basement is insulated and/or finished, check for any signs of water damage. You should also monitor the inside humidity periodically. High humidity can be the result of dampness caused by a leak or moisture coming in from an outside source.

Should I Insulate My Basement Ceiling?

Maybe. Insulating a basement ceiling will make the floor above, the traditional first floor of your home, feel warmer. In return, the basement will be cooler because the insulation will trap the warm air above and the cool air below.

If you plan to use your basement as a living space, this issue (a cool basement) can be addressed by installing ductwork and vents that direct warm air to the area. Or you can choose not to insulate the basement ceiling.

However, if you do decide to insulate your ceiling, make sure any exposed pipes are insulated as well. This will protect them against freezing weather.

Should I Insulate My Basement Floor?

If you live in an older home located in a colder climate that gets four to five months of wintry weather than insulating your basement floor will make it warmer and more comfortable—ideal if you are using your basement as a living space.

odern homes with concrete foundations are usually insulated at the time of construction. However, if you are looking to make the space warmer during the winter you can add an insulated subfloor, with a finished floor (carpet, composite, etc.) on top. This added insulation will provide additional warmth and comfort over the winter.

How to Insulate Basement Walls, Floors, And Ceilings:

When it comes to insulation, you have options there too. Each type of insulation has its own benefits, and depending on your needs, a skilled professional can help you make the right choice for your home.

Three common types of insulation are:

  • Sprayed foam insulation: Spray foam insulation is applied with some type of sprayer and is typically used to insulate walls and ceilings. This type of insulation and application does well for filling in gaps in and around walls and ceiling. Soon after it is applied it hardens, forming an effective weather barrier.
  • Foam boards: Foam board insulation is an easy-to-work-with material that reduces heat transfer through structural elements like wood and steel studs. This rigid form of insulation varies in thickness and can be used on basement walls, floors, and ceiling.
  • Fiberglass batting: This common type of insulation is made using fiberglass that is woven with other material to create a fantastic insulating product. This insulation is available in both sheets and large rolls (for bigger jobs) and is great for insulating between walls and in ceilings.

Related Topic: How to Insulate a Garage in 7 Easy Steps

What Is a Good R-value for Basement Insulation?

R-value is a term used in reference to the effectiveness of different types of insulation. The R-value refers to the resistance to heat flow through a particular material. The higher the R-value, the more effect the material is at insulating, and reduced heat loss. Your local HVAC professional can help you review the local building codes for R-value recommendations and regulations in your area.

You can also have the R-Value of your basement windows evaluated. Insulated Glass Units (IGUs), or double pane windows, have a higher R-value than their single pane windows. If you are doing a renovation project that includes insulation your home better, consider upgrading to double pane windows. Your local glass professionals at Glass Doctor can help.

What Else Can I Do to Keep My Home and Basement Warmer?

Installing insulation is one way to keep your home and basement more comfortable throughout the year. If you’re interested in some other ways to reduce energy usage, consider these steps:

  • Use a smart thermostat to improve temperature setting efficiency
  • Seal all windows and doors to reduce drafts
  • Install thermopane curtains on all windows
  • Install ceiling fans and adjust air flow based on the season

Include Basement Insulation in Your HVAC Plans

No matter how effective your HVAC system is, a poorly insulated home will be difficult to keep warm and cool year-round. Insulating your home properly is an effective way to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system, reduce energy cost and maintain your home at a comfortable temperature setting throughout the year.

If you have questions about how insulating your home can improve HVAC efficiency and lower energy cost, call your local Aire Serv pro or request an estimate online.