There aren’t many homes here in California that have actual cellars like they do on the East Coast or in the Midwest, probably accounted for by weather. Likely it has something to do with earthquakes vs hurricanes or tornadoes. Our wine cellar is actually an addition that we added after we bought this house, and probably the best improvement to it we’ll ever make! Because it was an addition, we had to put in separate heating and cooling for it—there was no way to extend the duct work. One of the solutions that we found can work for both “cellars” like ours and for those of you with actual underground cellars.
Our architect recommended radiant floor heating for when it gets cooler in the winter, or if we have visitors who don’t like the chill of the room. We thought this was an excellent idea, as we needed to put in flooring anyway, so it was a bit of a two for one! Radiant floor heating consists of a thin wire that zigzags around underneath your flooring. We went with wood for ours. You cannot see or feel the wire under the floor but you can feel it working. And it is blissful. We’re talking about installing it in the rest of the house now. We’re converts, for a few reasons:
- As everyone knows, heat rises. In a typical two story home, the vents are near the floor on the second level and in the ceiling on the lower level, so that ductwork can run in between the two floors. When it’s cold out and you’re on that first floor, the heat isn’t getting to you unless you’ve also got a fan circulating the air back down to where you are. And if you have high ceilings, forget it. You’re freezing in those rooms and your family members are sweating in other rooms with regular ceilings. With radiant heat, it is starting from the bottom and heating as it goes upward. You aren’t wasting money heating your ceiling anymore. And half the time, when the heat cycles off, you’re cold again even if you were warm before.
- Forced air blows dust and allergens at you every time it kicks on. You probably know this already because you’ve taken a look at your air filters when you’ve replaced them. And that dust is just sitting in the ductwork, which is an unappealing thought. Radiant heat, however, isn’t forcing air anywhere. It heats the air closest to it, that air rises and warms you.
- Because it is more efficient, it is actually less costly to run. If we had it in our entire house, we would use what is called zoned heating—we could set the temperature for each area of the house. We both hate how cold the bathroom can feel during the day. However, the dining room and its western exposure doesn’t need much help staying warm, even in winter. Rather than set the whole house to one temperature—and you know that’s not really what happens, some rooms are cold while others are stifling—we could set the bathroom to get warmer and barely heat the dining room at all. This would also help save us some money.
A traditional underground cellar is typically difficult to heat, so a radiant heat solution would be perfect. Especially if you have a smaller wine cellar, it might not even be all that costly to install. It is definitely worth looking into, and we highly recommend it!