Permies likes frugality and the farmer likes looking for help with heating an unheated basement -- cheaply permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » living » frugality
Bookmark "looking for help with heating an unheated basement -- cheaply" Watch "looking for help with heating an unheated basement -- cheaply" New topic
Author

looking for help with heating an unheated basement -- cheaply

ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
It's 39 freaking degrees in my basement and I need to work down there. Anyone have any great ideas? I don't have a lot of money to do anything like insulating the whole space (which is open and unfinished). What is the cheapest to run type of electric heater? THANKS for your ideas.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8

What kind of work? Ok, I'm going to be an annoying canadian and say that's balmy. Lovely work temp. Put on a sweater. Toque. Gloves maybe. Coffee. Would love to have that problem...

Sorry that's not helpful at all... And if you're doing something where you're sitting still for hours you might want some heat. Paul Wheaton has something over on his blog i just read about how he saved a ton on his electrical bill...he has some good ideas on spot heating very specific areas and devices to cut down on the costs, you might find some ideas there if your work is static at a work station.

ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
Making soap, dyeing wool. Wet stuff. Can't take it to a warmer part of the house too toxic, messy and dangerous. It's not sitting down work, its standing and moving around on a concrete floor. I used to just do it seasonally as it was too damn cold, but need to ramp up production to year round. Maybe if I hang some tarps to box myself in temporarily and run a heater? And yeah, I'm dressed--down vest, hat, scarf, fingerless gloves. But okay, that does actually help, having some northern perspective
Shawn Bell


Joined: Dec 06, 2010
Posts: 156
Ellen, I was watching some outdoor survival videos and came across an idea that might help you.

The guy stuffs trash bags full of leaves to use as an insulating ground mattress. Maybe you could stack bags of leaves
around the perimeter of the basement.

Well, it is an idea anyway...
Cory Arsenault


Joined: Mar 03, 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Ottawa, Canada
    
  10
Another Canadian here.

Maybe the humidity down there is making it feel cooler than it really is. A damp cold is worse than a dry one.

Are you using incandescent lights down there? Maybe put in some of those reflectors like Paul did to bounce the heat they give of towards you?

What about one of those DIY solar heating panels made from pop cans?

Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
The wool sounds like fun work. Definitely damp, wet work makes things feel worse. Just to think sideways, do you have to work inside? Probably you do, but if you could set up in the yard, sometimes just the feel of a bit of sun on your face can make a huge difference. Also get you off that concrete floor... ( it might be worth getting some matting to stand on, i find a long day on concrete super hard on the body..)
Cory Arsenault


Joined: Mar 03, 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Ottawa, Canada
    
  10
Painting my basement with a moisture sealant paint sure cut down on the dampness in ours.
C.J. Murray


Joined: Dec 02, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: 5,500 ft. desert. 13" annual precip.
Ellen,
How cold is it outside night and day? How much of your basement walls extend above the ground? How air tight are your basement windows and doors?


A pair a what shift?
chip sanft


Joined: Jun 27, 2010
Posts: 114
Location: 18 acres (and heart) in zone 4 (central MN) -- current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 or 7?)
    
    3
I'm assuming you just need to keep yourself warm, and that there isn't a need to prevent pipes freezing, etc. In such a situation, as Paul has pointed out, keeping the person warm is more efficient than heating the whole space. His idea for using a heating lamp over your workspace seems like it could apply.

One other thing I only recently came in contact with but which amazed me with its effectiveness was a heated floor mat made for standing on. Usually the cold ground sucks the heat out of your feet, and for relatively little, you can reverse that to keep those puppies nice and toasty. If you sit on it, even better. Add on a sweater, a toque, and some long johns and you might be set.
ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
Well, it's in the 20's right now, the 30s is about usual for daytime this time of year. It doesn't go down to 0 very often. Part of the problem is the 2 single glazed windows, which I'm going to insulate tomorrow. I'm going to look at those thick rubber mats for the floor, that will help with the standing on concrete issues too. I have strip florescents down there, but am running one 100 watt bulb to help keep the pipes from freezing, which is a concern. I have some brooder bulbs that I can use when I'm down there. Thanks everybody!
C.J. Murray


Joined: Dec 02, 2011
Posts: 92
Location: 5,500 ft. desert. 13" annual precip.
In my experience when a basement is getting that close to the same temperature as outside there is air rising up and escaping somewhere allowing the air leaks in the basement to bring cold air in from outside. And the coldest air sits right on the floor. If nothing else stuff every crack you can find with fiberglass insulation packed in or cloth of some kind to keep the air from getting sucked in. It will help some. I think the heat lamps of the brooders are a good idea. Way better than an electric space heater that tries to blow warm air around.

Is there any chance you have an unused chimney flue or unused vent pipe which is venting air directly through the roof? Plug it if there is. Even if it is upstairs.

Do you have a dryer in the basement which could be venting air to the outside? A gas/propane fired hot water heater vent can also be a problem.
chip sanft


Joined: Jun 27, 2010
Posts: 114
Location: 18 acres (and heart) in zone 4 (central MN) -- current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 or 7?)
    
    3
ellen kardl wrote:I'm going to look at those thick rubber mats for the floor, that will help with the standing on concrete issues too. I have strip florescents down there...


Just to be clear, I was talking about mats for standing on that are actually heated. They plug into the wall and make for a really nice place to stand without driving up your electricity bill too much.
Ken Peavey
steward

Joined: Dec 21, 2009
Posts: 2125
Location: FL
    
  50
Hanging curtains will help. Decrease the volume of space you are trying to heat. If the ceiling is unfinished, you will need to block the space between the floor joists or the warm air will flow out of your space.
Concrete will absorb a huge amount of heat. That floor mat is a must.
Eliminate drafts. It's hard enough to get the place warm. You don't need fresh cold air ruining all your hard work.
Heat the body rather than the room. Paul Wheaton has an article on this. If you gotta use electric heat, this would be a highly efficient means.

My job has me working outside in all conditions, day and night. When it gets down to 18 degrees with the wind howling, no shelter in sight and another 6 hours left to the shift, guys will do just about anything to stay warm.
A knit hat is the first and best means of keeping warm. Next is layers. T-shirt + thermal wear + long sleeve shirt + sweat shirt(s) + hooded coat.
Sometimes we have access to a microwave oven. We always have bottled water. Pour out a splash of water, squeeze the air out of the bottle and recap it, then stick the bottle in the microwave for 3 minutes. Makes a fine cup of instant coffee, but stick a couple of them inside the pocket of a bottom layer sweatshirt, it will help keep you warm for a couple of hours. Its a hot water bottle.

Seed the Mind, Harvest Ideas.
http://farmwhisperer.com
Kay Bee


Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
do you do any canning at home? this time of year is a good time to make use of the extra heat produced in the processing of food for long term storage.

If there is already a humidity problem, boiling waterbath canning may not be your best way to go (turn some frozen fruit or berries into jams or sauces), but pressure canning up some meat or beans can be a nice time saver and heat a room at the same time, while not contributing much to humidity.


"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
There are definitely air leaks; the house is 80+ years old. There's a pipe where oil comes into the house for an old furnace that I don't use that can be plugged, a dryer vent to a long gone dryer, and all the windows are leaky. (I heat with wood on the main floor, which is why the basement is so cold). The basement is maybe 4 feet underground on 2 sides (the ones where the sink is, and water access, unfortunately).

I went down there this morning; with sun coming in, although the temp is the same, it feels warmer. I have toyed with the idea of working outside (and do, in the summer), but water access, electricity would be more difficult to rig right now.
kent smith


Joined: Sep 05, 2010
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
Have considered a RMH for a future heater down there?
kent


Kent
ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
What is an RMH?
Kate Vickery


Joined: Jan 18, 2012
Posts: 3
Have you considered a rocket stove vented to the outside? Pos with a cob bench to sit on (warm) or with an oven built into it if you have to boil things.. ? Small amount of wood and very warm..

Kate
ellen kardl


Joined: May 11, 2011
Posts: 50
Oh, rocket mass heater, no, too complicated for the time/space. I don't plan on being in the house forever. What I did actually do to ameliorate the situation: fingerless gloves in addition to the usual bundling up, boarded up and insulated the one really leaky window, put a thick rubber mat on the floor AND I got a "milk house heater". It's electric, but it won't be on 24/7. And I'm going to just tough it out and think about spring.
Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
Hi Ellen,

Being a person whose body has some interesting temperature fluxuation(sp?) issues, here are a few ideas for warming your wonderful body.

Radiant Barrier: which can sometimes be purchased by the linear foot at a hardware store or in a roll. Once you start playing with this stuff, you will amaze yourself with the ideas you come up with...It comes in various widths, 24, 48 inches.

I use Reflectix, which is double sided and has bubbles in between the reflective layers.

1A) I use Reflectix radiant barrier in my shoes, cut similarly to the shape of foot/shoe interior. Because this is a two sided radiant barrier, the upper side reflects my foot heat back to my foot. The lower side reflects the cold away from the foot. Over time the little bubbles will flatten out, yet the radiant barrier still works fine until it's all worn away, which can take many months of constant wearing.

1B) Those little pieces of Reflectix which are left over when you trim to fit your shoes or such can be taped together or not, and placed inside the backs of your gloves to radiate your hand warmth to you. I also take small pieces of it and stuff them inside the boot shaft.

Because the radiant barrier does not 'breathe', there will be minimal perspiration.

2) I also use pieces of Reflectix trimmed and pinned around my lower legs to keep the lower legs warm. It doesn't have to be right next to your skin, it will still have some nice effect. I use big safety pins called basting pins, as these are easy to open and close.

3) Two examples of torso warming:

**Once I took a long piece and made a little "barrel" around my torso. Or...
**I used a strip of Reflectix about four feet long and six inches wide to warm my front torso. I fold it over the top of the shirt neck and back down in between my clothing layers.

4) I have at times used a small piece of Reflectix inside of a hat to reflect heat back to head, and cold away from head.

You get the idea that Radiant Barrier can really keep you warm, it's the stuff they make emergency blankets.


You can also tape it together and make a small room or tent structure which could enclose part or all of your work space (take a little more money this way, better to focus on keeping your body warm.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How about getting your feet up off the floor in a different way? Are you able to get free pallets and cardboard?? or some way to make a "floor" over the pallets (old carpet or rug, flooring etc).

If so, then lay the pallets on the floor, and top them with layers of cardboard for insulation. THis way, your feet are several inches from the floor. and place the cardboard on top of pallets.

In another thread I was just reading about salvaging cardboard, someone said they researched online and found a list where cardboard is third in insulating qualities, after fiberglass insulation took second place.

If there are any ways for you to create a dead air space between the floor and whatever you stand on, your body will be able to stay warmer.

I hope this may inspire some creative ideas for your warm adventures.
Blessings,
Max

The world needs all kinds of minds. --Temple Grandin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q
Weird or just different? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K5SycZjGhI&feature=endscreen&NR=1
Gail Moore


Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 142
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
    
    1
Hi again, I also wanted to share that I use Reflectix sometimes to lay on/ sleep on/ wrap myself up in it to radiate my body's heat back to me when I'm really getting chilly. It's amazing how quickly it will help to stay warm.

As a funny idea, someone suggested I could make a Reflectix coat or vest to help me stay warm. I could see something with some openings to let the body breathe and still get the radiance factor.


Blessings,
Max
 
 
subject: looking for help with heating an unheated basement -- cheaply
 
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books