There’s no doubt about it – winter is a tough time to tackle outdoor projects. Fortunately, when you want to continue making progress, there is a wide range of options available to keep you busy during the cold part of the year by improving your basement space. Here are a few projects you might want to consider working on over the winter months.
When you think of a basement, you might think of a dank utilitarian space that would take a lot of work to create something that goes beyond functional. Fortunately, that’s not the case. What would you like to do with your basement space? Consider your family’s interests. An entertainment room with a large projection TV, some video games and a link to your home entertainment network is great for groups, while your family’s green thumb may appreciate a root cellar. The family artist could enjoy a studio, but you’ll want to stick to daylight light frequency to allow for the best representation of true colors, or a wine cellar may be in order for your wine connoisseur. Spare bedrooms, an extra bathroom or an exercise room are other common design ideas for basements.
To keep your project low and dry, you may need steps to keep moisture away. If your basement generally remains relatively dry, you could look at sealants to keep any moisture from leaking into the basement from the outside during extreme weather events. If it floods on a regular basis, adding drainage around the foundation and a sump pump in a low spot may make it easier to keep dry. If it tends to be a bit musty or dank, consider adding a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Remember to consider moisture levels when selecting flooring – a basement that gets wet regularly will do much better with ceramic tile than carpet.
Of course, there’s always that lack of a basement ceiling to contend with. You could drywall it, but what about when you need to access your home’s mechanical, electrical and water systems? One of the best ways to conceal that ceiling and give your basement a better appearance is by using ceiling tiles. Because ceiling tiles are hung in a frame, they’re easy to remove when you need to access pipes or other areas between the ground floor and the basement.
When it comes to basements, many homeowners fail to consider the usual shorter ceiling height. This can impact your choice of lighting options for the rooms you create there. One option to consider is LED can lights. Unlike their incandescent and halogen counterparts, LEDs stay very cool, preventing a problem with hot spots on the floor above or a potential fire. You can also use regular light fixtures, but limit their total height to a few inches. If you must have a light fixture that hangs down further, try to position it outside of walking paths, such as over a table, island or peninsula.
If you are looking to improve your home heating efficiency a good place to start is with your heating system, which is generally kept in the basement. In fact, space heating is the largest energy expense in your home, accounting for about 45 percent of your energy bills. Another, less costly approach is installing a programmable thermostat which can save an estimated 10 percent a year on heating and cooling costs. If those two facts sparked your interest we have an excellent PDF provided by the U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Saver 101: Home Heating – that dives deeper into energy-saving tips and information on how you can start saving money. You can download the guide below.